Calcium Supplements Linked to Heart Attacks?

A study released on Friday (British Medical Journal) suggests that calcium supplements taken by the elderly to strengthen bones may increase heart attack risk.  The findings are unique to calcium supplements when taken WITHOUT Vitamin D and do not generalize to calcium intake from dietary sources.

Study author conclusions:

Calcium supplements (without coadministered vitamin D) are associated with an increased risk of myocardial infarction. As calcium supplements are widely used these modest increases in risk of cardiovascular disease might translate into a large burden of disease in the population. A reassessment of the role of calcium supplements in the management of osteoporosis is warranted.

From Yahoo News:

To investigate further, an international team of researchers led by Ian Reid of the University of Auckland in New Zealand reviewed 11 separate clinical trials involving 12,000 patients.
They found that calcium supplements were associated with about a 30 percent jump in heart attack risk.
The chances of stroke and mortality also increased to a lesser extent.
The link was consistent across trials and was independent of age, sex, and type of supplement.


  • Bolland MJ, Avenell A, Baron JA, Grey A, Maclennan GS, Gamble GD, Reid IR. Effect of calcium supplements on risk of myocardial infarction and cardiovascular events: meta-analysis. BMJ. 2010 Jul 29;341:c3691. doi: 10.1136/bmj.c3691.
  • Yahoo News

3 thoughts on “Calcium Supplements Linked to Heart Attacks?

  • January 11, 2011 at 6:40 am

    I was familiar with this calcium supplements. I agree with you that though Calcium works to strengthen bones, it may increase heart attack risk. I will keep in mind your advise.

  • September 12, 2010 at 7:05 pm

    Patricia, thanks again for your insightful comments and input!

    At the very least, it sounds like some “experts” are at least suggesting that Calcium supplements are taken with Vitamin D instead of taking Calcium supplements alone.

    However, for your mother with a previous cardiac history, it’s certainly best for her to follow her doctor’s advice.

  • September 11, 2010 at 9:09 pm

    I was just persusing your articles and I remember when this hit the nesw here in Australia. My Mother was taking calcium tablets with Vit D even though she was part of a trial to look at calcium levels in the elderly and she had good bone density. If you met her you would be amazed as she is really underweight. Not from eating too little; I think she has a very fast metabolism as she walks at a great pace even at age 88 years young! She was in a dilemma as she had a myocardial infarction in her 50’s ( we later found out she had rheumatic fever as a child that was diagnosed as growing pains!) so wasn’t too keen to keep taking them.
    She eats heaps of nuts, fish in her diet and exercises every day so the jury is out on this one as there were conflicting opinions by the “experts” here in Oz. I say err on the side of cautioun so at the moment she is not taking them. Will be interesting to see where this information takes us.
    Patricia Perth Australia


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