Should You Be Afraid Of Your Calcium Supplements?
Or The “Research” Telling You To Be?
The latest “anti-supplement” headline circling around asks:
“We found a significant interaction by sex. Elevated CVD [cardiovascular disease] mortality with increasing supplemental calcium in-take was observed only in men; however, we cannot rule out the possibility that supplemental calcium intake may be associated with cardiovascular mortality in women”
This of course, is significantly biased toward supplements, because the actual quote from the study is as follows:
“Our findings suggest that high intake of supplemental calcium is associated with an excess risk of CVD death in men but not in women. Additional studies are needed to investigate the effect of supplemental calcium use beyond bone health.”
Now my goodness! This does sound scary for all of us supplement takers! Especially when referring to calcium.
So what gives? Should we hurry and empty our calcium bottles and toss out the pills in the universal aquarium-fish cemetery (IE toilet)?
Well not so fast. It depends!
As with everything, there’s more to the story…a lot more!
Obvious flaws plague this study such as:
“Supplemental calcium intake included calcium from multivitamins and individual calcium supplements.”
This is equivalent to doing a study that measures the likelihood of a stroke due to exercise; without describing the type of exercise.
One of my pet peeves happens to be related to mineral supplements and the general mainstream belief regarding them. As a chiropractor, I can’t tell you how many x-rays I have seen showing undigested calcium pills still fully formed in peoples’ intestines. In nearly all cases the calcium pill in question was in the form of calcium carbonate (the basic calcium form made from calcium oxide); the absolutely worse type of calcium you can take if you want to absorb any of it.
You’d get more calcium by swallowing the cap from the calcium bottle than from the calcium!
Calcium citrate has become a leading form of calcium that is regularly advertised on TV. Though this type of calcium is absorbed better than calcium carbonate, the amount absorbed by the body is still negligible.
So before we continue, let me explain what I mean by “type” of calcium.
Many people see the word calcium and assume that it is good for them and that their body will absorb it. However this is not the case. What we hope to absorb when we take a calcium supplement is the elemental calcium. Being a mineral, as with all minerals, in order to get the amount needed by the body the mineral must be accompanied by a “carrier” or “mineral transporter”. In other words the mineral, calcium in this case, is “escorted into the cells” by a carrier such as carbonate, citrate, aspartate, or orotate (among others).
However each carrier is not created equal as many people may think. Though not scientifically exact, the following is meant to help explain the carriers in a simplistic manner.
- Using calcium carbonate (oxide) as the carrier is like trying to drive a bus into the cell. It just can’t happen because the oxide carrier is too big. Thus, there is little to no calcium absorbed. In fact it is like swallowing chalk.
- Using calcium citrate as the carrier is a bit better. This is more like trying to drive a car into the cell. You have a slightly better chance at calcium absorption than with the oxide carrier, but clearly not the best option.
The following three forms of calcium carriers are least well-known and sadly they will no doubt remain that way. Formulated by the revolutionary physician, Dr. Hans Nieper, MD., who had successful outcomes treating a variety of health conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis, and cardiovascular disease (among others).
Dr. Nieper’s approach to treating these conditions was to do it naturally with fully absorbable nutrition therapy. But despite his successes, mainstream medicine criticized his efforts by refuting his findings with ambiguous studies such as the one I am debating in this article.
- Using calcium aspartate is more promising since it is like trying to drive a motorcycle into the cell. In this case, the carrier effectively delivers the calcium where it needs to be for the body to absorb it.
Now there are two carriers that are the best hands down!
- The first is calcium 2-AEP (amino ethyl phosphate). It is like riding a skateboard into the cell. This calcium is so absorbable that it actually enters in the outer layer of mitochondria in the cell; most known as an effective natural treatment for multiple sclerosis.
- And lastly calcium orotate, which is like simply walking the calcium into the cell. The absorbability of this form is so high that it penetrates into the inner layer of mitochondrial.
Why is this important?
Because the goal is for the body to absorb the highest amount of elemental calcium needed so as to have the greatest benefit such as preventing osteoporosis. If only a minimal amount is absorbed, then logically one would need to take more calcium. And as with the calcium carbonate (for example), little to no elemental calcium is actually being absorbed; thus not utilized effectively by the body. So, the rest simply circulates within the body systemically calcifying vital areas such as arteries, creates a kidney stone, and/or is eventually excreted via bodily elimination as if you swallowed a piece of chalk.
So back to the study in debate – You can now see that by simply saying that people either took a calcium supplement or calcium via a multivitamin is vague, misleading and inaccurate regarding the conclusion of the “study”.
More issues lay with many people believing that they can take calcium alone without also taking co-factors (co-factors are needed to complete the nutrition requirement of a specific substance; in this case calcium).
Though many have a good understanding that calcium requires vitamin D as a co-factor, there are a lot of people who do not realize that’s not the only co-factor required for the absorption of calcium. Magnesium, in a ratio of 2:1 (calcium: magnesium) is another co-factor necessary for its absorption. In fact, some may argue that a ratio of 1:1 may now be the better choice considering that a magnesium deficiency can actually cause a calcium deficiency!
Most multivitamins don’t even come close to this ratio; while others have only minimal amounts of magnesium. Of course, the same issue then applies to magnesium regarding its “carrier”; oxide being as difficult to absorb as calcium.
And sadly with the “vitamin D is toxic” scare being propagandized with much effect, most people are not getting nearly enough of this vitamin/hormone as they should. (Nationwide Vitamin D Deficiency)
Isn’t it interesting that both vitamin D and magnesium are easily two of the four most deficient vitamin/minerals in the US? Followed closely by vitamin B12 and zinc. (Vitamin B12 Deficiency Prevalent in the US and Zinc Deficient Nation)
Now to add more to the puzzle; what was the health status of the people from the study? Did they exercise? And what is considered “exercise” (because even exercise is controversial)? (Have We Lost All Common Sense?)
The study followed both men and women aged 50-71. Statistics show that many in this age group would have been on medication(s). Was this mentioned in the study? Well let’s read what the study stated:
“Multivariate Cox proportional hazards regression models adjusted for demographic, lifestyle, and dietary variables were used to estimate relative risks (RRs) and 95% CIs.”
Yeah, as suspected, questions were still not answered. No mention of what pharmaceuticals the participants may (or may not) have been taking. Yet, it does lend for even more questions!
And what is meant by dietary variables? Did some eat conventional processed food, while others organic food? And isn’t demographic/lifestyle a broad a statement?
Honestly if a holistic team of doctors presented a study with such vague terms, there’d be no end to the ridicule!
“ Randomized trials in pre-dialysis patients have demonstrated acceleration of coronary artery calcification, and some trials have shown increased cardiovascular mortality in patients randomized to calcium.”
Of course, the same issues are present regarding which type of calcium they were taking and were they taking the required co-factors?
They study also states:
“There has also been a longstanding awareness that they cause gastrointestinal symptoms, particularly constipation, but it is more alarming to find that they double the risk of admission to hospital with an acute abdominal condition”
Well naturally the calcium could cause this! It’s just sitting there in the gut! And if there is one thing I learned in my practice is that most people are chronically constipated, yet they consider it to be normal for them. Don’t take my word for it; just watch how many TV ads are focused on constipation and diarrhea! Have you ever thought about how many products are sold for these two conditions alone? Entire aisles in the grocery store and drug stores cater to these issues! And let’s not forget heartburn; commonly caused by poor diet and magnesium deficiency!
Consider the Pharmaceutical drugs of Boniva, Fosamax and Actonel. Prescribed by most medical physicians in lieu of calcium supplements – especially with misleading studies such as the one I am debating in this article. People believe what their medical doctor tells them and they take the prescribed drug.
More research comes out stating:
“In 2010, the Food and Drug Administration announced that the labels of these drugs would contain a warning about the potential for the unusual thigh fractures. And last year, a panel of experts convened by the agency expressed concern about atypical fractures, though stopped short of recommending limits on use of the drugs.”
Hmm, isn’t the whole point of the drug to stop the fractures in the first place…and not cause them?
And since we are on the subject of calcium supplements supposedly “causing” cardiovascular disease, how much notice has been paid to the 2008 study published in Archives of Internal Medicine, which linked Fosamax to Atrial Fibrillation in women? Quoted from News Medical:
“Women who have used Fosamax are nearly twice as likely to develop the most common kind of chronically irregular heartbeat (atrial fibrillation) than are those who have never used it, according to research from Group Health and the University of Washington”
But it doesn’t stop there. All three of the drugs, Boniva, Fosamax and Actonel are still in litigation regarding Osteonecrosis of the Jaw - a serious degenerative bone disease.
Again, isn’t the whole point to stop degenerative bone disease? And just as a reminder, osteoporosis is s a degenerative bone disease!
So bottom line. The type of calcium matters! And if anything, that is what this study proved!
I have long known the difference between mineral carriers, and I currently take both calcium orotate and calcium 2-AEP along with their required co-factors. But more importantly, preventing any disease, osteoporosis and heart disease included, lifestyle is the main key in prevention! Clean organic foods, pure water, plenty of sleep, both aerobic AND anaerobic exercise (weight bearing exercise are extremely important in the prevention of osteoporosis), and quality supplements to counteract the stressors of life as well as of our growing modern toxic environment of pollutants.
So will I stop taking calcium supplements?
- Are Calcium Supplements Killing People?
- Nationwide Vitamin D Deficiency
- JAMA Internal Medicine study
- Dr. Hans Nieper, MD.
- Vitamin B12 Deficiency Prevalent in the US
- Zinc Deficient Nation
- Have We Lost All Common Sense?
- Heart study
- Calcium supplements: Bad for the heart?
- Fosamax was linked to esophageal cancer
- RX Recall Warning list
- Litigation regarding Osteonecrosis of the Jaw