Calcium and Heart Health: Things You Need To Know
Calcium is essential as it plays a crucial role in the body, especially the skeletal system. Over 99% of the calcium in the body is stored in the teeth and bones, which is why an adult's daily recommended amount of calcium to ensure good bone health is 1000 mg.
Most people are used to taking calcium supplements daily, which can also treat conditions like osteoporosis and acid reflux. But there are other ways in which calcium can affect your body. Some studies also claim that too much calcium can be dangerous to your health.
How Does Calcium Affect the Heart?
Calcium can enter your muscle cells with every heartbeat, and it helps coordinate the heart's electrical signals and how fast it beats. Calcium also helps the heart contract and pump blood throughout the body. It is also believed to be involved in helping all of the muscles of the body contract.
Any abnormal calcium levels in the blood can cause abnormal electrical signals that, in turn, lead to irregular heartbeats or arrhythmia.
Can Calcium Cause Heart Problems?
Many researchers have raised concerns about calcium supplements increasing the risk of heart problems such as heart attacks. Some even believe that taking higher amounts of calcium can result in the calcification of blood vessels in the heart.
Calcification of blood vessels, also called vascular classification, can occur when minerals like calcium build up on the walls of the arteries and veins. Even blood vessels in the heart are at risk of this condition. Vascular classification can block the regular flow of blood to the heart resulting in cardiovascular diseases.
Vascular calcification can be a sign of atherosclerosis, a condition in which fatty deposits or plaque build up on the inner walls of the arteries. Atherosclerosis increases your risk of strokes, heart attacks, and even death.
How is the risk of excessive calcium consumption different in men and women?
Women who take calcium supplements can be at a higher risk of developing heart problems compared to men.
One large study showed that post-menopausal women are at a higher risk of heart disease if they take around 1000 mg of calcium supplements daily, and this risk was even higher in women who get about 700 to 1000 mg of calcium from their diet.
A different study showed that post-menopausal women who combined their calcium supplements with vitamin D supplements did not show a rise in the risk of heart attacks. It is important to note that these studies were not aimed at studying the supplement's effect on heart disease and were evaluating the benefits of calcium supplements for fracture risk.
Who Should be Careful About Taking Calcium Supplements?
While there is no clear evidence yet about whether or not calcium supplements can raise the risk of heart disease, you should try and get the calcium you need from food sources. In these cases, the doctor’s advice should be considered. Individuals who show low calcium levels in the blood or those with conditions like osteoporosis need to follow the dosage the doctor recommends religiously.
It is also essential for you to talk to your healthcare professional before starting any supplements, including calcium. Most doctors recommend calcium acetate to help lower phosphorus levels if your kidneys are not functioning normally. In this case, taking only the prescribed dosage and nothing more is essential. Taking excess calcium could result in calcium bonding with phosphorus and getting deposited in your blood vessels. A doctor will provide you with the proper amount of calcium supplements you need based on age and lifestyle.
A common cause of kidney stones is combining oxygen and oxalate in the urine. Oxalate is a natural substance found in foods that can cause the formation of crystals in the urine. While calcium supplements raise the chance of calcium combining with oxalate, it is important to include natural forms of calcium in your diet as it also has a role in preventing kidney stones.
Is Taking Calcium Supplements Advisable If You Have a History of Heart Disease?
As mentioned earlier, we are sure that calcium plays a vital role in the body's daily functioning, but its like with heart disease is still not understood. Healthy individuals who do not show low calcium levels or other bone and tooth-related diseases should try incorporating more sources of calcium into their diet. Whatever you do, it is essential first to consult your family physician as too much of a good thing, aka calcium, can also sometimes lead to serious side effects in the body.
As research related to calcium and heart health has not reached as far as we had hoped, it is essential to know the side effects of overconsumption of calcium and how to identify them. Regular blood tests and analyses can help you track your calcium levels in the blood and inform you when levels are higher than normal and vice versa.
You can also find other calcium tests for heart health if your doctor suspects you have developed calcification in your blood vessels or heart. Whether the test displays more elevated levels of calcium or lower amounts, it is essential to discuss the steps you need to take to bring it back to normal with your healthcare provider.
Metropolis Labs has a wide array of diagnostic tests available that can be found here. We are a premium diagnostic service with a chain of diagnostic labs across India to provide our customers with health check-ups and blood testing services. Our team of qualified blood collection technicians make home visits to collect your blood samples so you are comfortable in your space. The sample is then sent to the closest advanced diagnostic lab for testing. With minimal turnaround time, we also offer our customers the option to view their results on the Metropolis TruHealth app or via email. Contact us today for more information about our services.