A new massive study involving over 9000 people has found that women can reduce their risk of death by 22% – by simply taking a calcium supplement!
Given the negligible cost and time it takes to swallow a calcium pill, this sounds like the easiest decision you will ever have to make. A no brainer as the kids say, except some recent evidence seems to indicate that calcium does more harm than help.
It’s said there are two sides to every coin, but it leaves us in a state of limbo, unable to come to a conclusion. Both positions are backed with scientific studies, so which side should you believe?
To get to the correct answer, we must dig further into divisive, complex calcium.
Calcium On Trial
Over the last few years calcium supplements have taken a black eye due to headlines stating they increase heart attack risk. Front page news screamed…
“Calcium Leads To Heart Attack Risk!”
Upon reading this, many people outright stopped taking calcium supplements, rightly feeling that osteoporosis from calcium deficiency is the lesser of two evils, when compared to a heart attack.
Unfortunately, the masses did not dig any deeper than the headlines to learn that it was excessive amounts of traditional rock sourced calcium supplements that led to arterial calcification and then heart attacks.
In the study, the calcium from participants’ diets, combined with the rock based calcium supplements they took (known as calcium carbonate) added up to 1500 – 2000 mg per day.
Scientists believe large doses of calcium circulating in the blood have a ‘flooding effect’ in the blood which leads to hardening of the arteries and issues of the heart. (1)
The conclusion, but only found in the fine print, not the headlines, was that (rock sourced) calcium, when taken in excess of 1500 mg per day, leads to issues of the heart. (2)
It makes sense – if we consume too much of anything, including water, we will die. But headlines are meant to shock, and induce fear. They are constricted to bite sized pieces of information and so they must leave out crucial details.
Everything in Moderation – Including Calcium
Representing the other side of the issue, the large-scale Canadian Multicentre Osteoporosis Study monitored the health of 9,033 Canadians between 1995 and 2007.
The main conclusion of the study was that ‘Calcium supplements, up to 1000 mg/d, and increased dietary intake of calcium is associated with reduced risk of mortality in women.’ (1)
Carrie Ruxton, spokesperson for the Health Supplements Information Service says that the women in this study likely reaped the benefits of having optimal amounts of calcium in their systems. She said that generally many females are falling short on this essential mineral due to a trending away from calcium rich dairy products.
The Calcium Sweet Spot – Strong Bones and a Healthy Heart
When you compare the data from these two studies you can see the takeaway message is that there is a ‘sweet spot’ regarding calcium levels.
The first study states heart complications arise when total calcium levels (from food and rock based calcium supplements) goes well over the 1500 mg per day range.
The other aforementioned study from Canada tells us that women getting a total of approximately 1500 mg of calcium per day (from supplements and diet) leads to reduced risk of mortality.
It makes sense that our body is particular about what, and how much, or how little we put into it. After all, too much or too little of many things (including water) will kill us.
To hit the right daily target involves learning what foods calcium comes from, and in what amounts. Finicky yes. But if you keep in mind that you have only one body to last you a whole lifetime, it shouldn’t seem too big a chore to do some nutritional math.
Calcium Rich Foods
|Almonds||12 whole, 26 g||62|
|Brazil Nuts||6 whole, 20 g||34|
|Hazlenuts||20 whole, 20 g||28|
|Sesame seeds||1 tablespoon, 12 g||80|
|Walnuts||12 halves, 40 g||38|
|Tahini Paste||1 heaped teaspoon, 19 g||129|
|Sardines in oil, tinned||portion, 100 g||500|
|Whitebait, fried||portion, 80 g||688|
|Salmon, tinned||average portion, 100 g||91|
|Fish paste||small jar, 35 g||98|
|Broccoli, boiled||serving, 85 g||34|
|Watercress, raw||small bunch, 20 g||34|
|Curly Kale||serving, 95 g||143|
|Okra, stir fried||8 medium, 40 g||88|
|Red kidney beans, canned||3 tablespoons, 105 g||75|
|Chick peas, boiled||3 tablespoons, 90 g||41|
|Green/French beans||serving, 90 g||50|
|Baked beans||serving, 135 g||72|
|Milk, semi-skimmed||glass, 200 ml||240|
|Milk skimmed||glass, 200 ml||244|
|Milk whole||glass, 200 ml||236|
|Milkshake||takeaway, 300 ml||387|
|Soy drink, calcium enriched||glass, 200 ml||178|
Think You’re Getting Enough?
Official figures show that on average women consume only 740 mg of calcium per day from food sources. (1) This means that taking a calcium supplement to make up the shortfall is necessary and just makes good sense.
Why have less calcium than what your body needs to thrive on?
Strangely, many are more vigilant about putting the best high octane gas in their car than consuming mineral rich ‘high octane’ foods and supplements to ‘fuel’ their body.
But if you want for yourself the most reliability, performance and longevity possible, it involves topping your tank up regularly with the best vitamins and minerals you can.
Plant based calcium supplements offer a convenient solution for so many who just don’t get enough in their diets. Recently certain South American algaes have been discovered to be higher in calcium than any plants you’ll find in your local market. Yes, broccoli, kale and other foods we know to be mineral rich are actually less than 10% calcium.
These rare USDA Certified Organic algaes are 35% calcium. Making it the perfect food to be dried, crushed into powder and put into capsules for your convenience.
What’s even more rare is in clinical studies, participants actually increased their bone density in 6 months by taking 3 capsules per day of this ocean plant. (4) This is a groundbreaking find, considering that typical rock calciums are proven to only slow down bone loss.
Decide To Live Longer
Due to this unique new discovery and the research and development behind algae based calcium supplements, the answer is… taking plant calcium supplements daily to reduce the chance of death by 22% is the easiest decision you will ever have to make!