calcium-supplementsAs we age our bodies begin to weaken and break down. This can cause aches, pains, and ultimately unwanted disease– that is if you aren’t protecting it through vital lifestyle choices. One of the biggest areas of concern is bone health. We all hear about osteoporosis and its damaging and debilitating effect on the daily lives of those who suffer with it. According to the National Institute of Health (NIH) 10 million Americans suffer from osteoporosis.

We’re warned to take calcium supplements to protect against this ‘porous bone’ disease. Is this really the best way to prevent osteoporosis? New evidence is coming to light that not only do calcium supplements do very little to protect bones, these supplements are now being shown to actually increase the risk for heart attacks.

In a new study out of the University of Aberdeen in the United Kingdom and Dartmouth University in the United States researchers have found that people taking calcium supplements have a twenty to thirty percent increased risk of heart attack. Surprised? Many are by this enlightening new study and others like it.

Do Calcium Supplements Contribute to Artery Diseases?

According to one of the researchers in this study, Ian Reid, he theorizes that the calcium supplements may elevate blood calcium levels at such a fast pace it contributes to artery disease.

But that’s not all. Cardiologist of the U.K.’s Hull York Medical School, John Cleland, states that the evidence to support calcium supplements for bone health are unconvincing at best. In an editorial published with that same study Cleland goes on to say that calcium supplements alone do not protect against bone problems like osteoporosis and fractures and may even slightly increase the risk for bone fractures.

With the vast array of calcium supplements and a Western world that relies heavily on supplements rather than real food to protect against osteoporosis this new information is crucial.

As I’ve said before, supplements can be a true blessing but counting on supplements alone to make up for poor diet and lifestyle choices will never work out as you hope–or as your body desperately needs.

One reason that any supplement alone is not the answer, as we’re seeing here with calcium supplements, has to do with the body’s ability to utilize supplements effectively. The way the body absorbs calcium from a supplement versus how it absorbs calcium from real foods is different. This is important when it comes to your health.

Real Foods: Still the Best Answer for Lifelong Vitality

When we eat real foods (foods that come directly from nature with no processing), our bodies are able to digest and slowly absorb all the various nutrients contained in that one real food.

Real foods come perfectly packaged with all the enzymes, minerals, vitamins, and other nutrients so the body can properly digest and absorb these vital nutrients.

When we take supplements we are often missing the other key ingredients found in real foods. Many of these supplements are low quality, synthetic, and the body doesn’t even recognize them. Some supplements include fillers, additives, and even food dyes. These are not good for the body.

The best way to protect your bones is to eat a diet rich in calcium, magnesium, vitamin D, and vitamin K2. However, if for some reason you can’t do this or still opt to use supplements you must take certain supplements together for the best effect and to ward off any unwanted side effects like the calcium study above showed.

Eating a balanced diet full of fresh, organic, real foods is essential for lifelong health and vitality. The simple act of making good nutrition a priority is one that we should all take very seriously. After all, our lives really do depend on it.

Calcium, Vitamin D, Vitamin K2, and Magnesium: Perfect Together!

If you do opt for supplements along with a healthy diet and lifestyle there are certain things to take into consideration. The first area to take into consideration with any supplementation is the quality of the supplement. Make sure your supplement is free of fillers, additives, preservatives, dyes, and more. Once you find a supplement company you know and trust for quality rely on them to provide all of your supplement needs.

Remember when it comes to supplements, they’re not all created equally so choose carefully.

The next point to know is that certain vitamins and minerals should be taken together in order to be effective.

When it comes to calcium it’s essential to combine this supplement with the following:

  • Vitamin D
  • Vitamin K2
  • Magnesium

Vitamin D and Calcium

Vitamin D and calcium go together like, well, peanut butter and jelly; salt and pepper; sand and the ocean. If you don’t get enough Vitamin D, or in other words are suffering from a vitamin D deficiency, then your body’s ability to absorb calcium will be inhibited.

Research shows that older people have a higher rate of vitamin D deficiencies. This is also the group more at risk for osteoporosis as well as heart problems. The best way to increase your body’s level of vitamin D is through safe sunlight exposure. For many people living in the Northern part of the United States this can be a problem during cold winter months. During this time, or if you’re fighting back from a serious vitamin D deficiency, supplements are the way to go.

Another misconception about calcium and vitamin D? Milk is NOT your best source!

Vitamin K2 and Calcium

This amazing vitamin has been shown to increase bone strength. In fact Japanese researchers found a correlation between women who consumed a traditional Japanese food, natto, which is high in absorbable vitamin K2, and a decreased incidence of hip fracture. The more natto consumed, the lower the rate of hip fractures.

Another study, the Nurses Health Study, published in American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that women who consumed the least amount of vitamin K had thirty percent more chance of sustaining a hip fracture. This study followed more than 72,000 women between the ages of thirty-eight and sixty-three for ten years.

Vitamin K2 can be found in dark, leafy green vegetables or natto which is a fermented soybean product.

Magnesium and Calcium

When it comes to the health of bones demineralization is one of the primary concerns. Demineralization refers to the quality of the bone and is closely associated with osteoporosis.

In a study from the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition it was discovered that people consuming a diet high in magnesium (and potassium) had higher bone density than those not consuming the same high amounts of these two nutrients.

Magnesium can be found in nuts, legumes, green veggies, potatoes, and whole grain foods. Remember if you choose to supplement with magnesium be sure you’re choosing a high quality supplement.

I personally recommend Garden of Life’s Raw Calcium or Grow Bone system. These are the products I have my own parents take, so you can be sure that I truly do trust the quality of these products.

Again, eating a balanced healthy diet low in processed or ‘fake’ foods and high in real foods is key to achieving not only strong bones but optimal health. Regular exercise, including weight bearing exercises, is also vital to maintaining strong bones for life and preventing debilitating osteoporosis.

Sources

British Medical Journal (2010)

Dr. Joseph Mercola (2003)

The Arthritis Foundation (2009)

National Institutes of Health (2009)

Dr. Axe's Action Steps

Dr. Axe
  1. If you are currently taking synthetic calcium supplements, I would encourage you to consider discontinuing them.
  2. Evaluate your diet and see just how much calcium you’re getting. Are you eating real food or fake food?
  3. If you use calcium supplements take a look at the supplement and see if it includes vitamin D, K2, or magnesium.
  4. If you find you’re not getting enough calcium, vitamin D, vitamin K2, or magnesium through diet alone (and most of us aren’t) choose high quality supplements that includes each of these nutrients.
  5. Evaluate your diet and see just how much calcium you’re getting. Are you eating real food or fake food?
  6. If you use calcium supplements take a look at the supplement and see if it includes vitamin D, K2, or magnesium.
  7. If you find you’re not getting enough calcium, vitamin D, vitamin K2, or magnesium through diet alone (and most of us aren’t) choose high quality supplements that includes each of these nutrients.
  8. If you are currently taking synthetic calcium supplements, I would encourage you to consider discontinuing them.