Calcium Supplements: The risks of calcium supplements | Chris Kresser
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Why You Should Think Twice about Taking Calcium Supplements

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These dairy products, bone-in fish, and leafy greens can eliminate the need for calcium supplements.
Eating foods rich in calcium, like dairy products, leafy greens, and bone-in fish, can help you avoid the risks of calcium supplements. iStock/piotr_malczyk

I’ve made the argument before that some supplements may be necessary to prevent a nutrient deficiency even if you’re nourishing your body with a nutrient-dense, whole-foods diet. Some nutrients are challenging to get through food alone, especially if you’re not digesting food optimally or you’re struggling with a chronic disease that increases your need for particular nutrients. I recommend wise supplementation for many of my patients, and I have seen the benefits of supplementation in my own life as well.

That said, there are several supplements that are commonly recommended by conventional doctors and healthcare practitioners that are unneeded at best, and potentially harmful at worst. Calcium supplements are a prime example of this.

Do Calcium Supplements Work?

Calcium has become extremely popular to supplement with, especially among aging women, in the hope that it will prevent fractures and protect against osteoporosis.

We’ve all seen the products on the market aimed at the “worried well,” such as Viactiv and Caltrate, suggesting that supplementing with calcium can help maintain bone health and prevent osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is a serious concern in women’s health, and it affects at least 10 percent of American women. (1) Yet the evidence that calcium supplementation strengthens the bones and teeth was never strong to begin with, and it has grown weaker with new research published in the past few years.

Are you taking a common supplement that may increase the risk of heart disease, stroke, and death? Read this article to find out.

A 2012 analysis found that consuming a high intake of calcium beyond recommended dietary guidelines, typically from supplementation, provided no benefit for hip or lumbar vertebral bone mineral density in older adults. (2) A 2007 study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that calcium supplements don’t reduce fracture rates in postmenopausal women and may even increase the rate of hip fractures. (3)

Are Calcium Supplements Safe?

Beyond being ineffective for bone health, calcium supplements are associated with some pretty serious health risks.

Heart Disease Risk

Studies on the relationship between calcium and cardiovascular disease (CVD) suggest that dietary intake of calcium protects against heart disease, but supplemental calcium may increase the risk. A 2012 study of 24,000 men and women aged 35 to 64 years published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) found that those who used calcium supplements had a 139 percent greater risk of heart attack during the 11-year study period, while intake of food calcium did not increase the risk. (4) A meta-analysis of studies involving more than 12,000 people also published in the BMJ found that calcium supplementation increases the risk of:

  • Heart attack by 31 percent
  • Stroke by 20 percent
  • Death from all causes by 9 percent (5)

An analysis involving 12,000 men published in JAMA Internal Medicine found that intakes of over 1,000 mg of supplemental calcium per day—from multivitamins or individual supplements—were associated with a 20 percent increase in the risk of death from CVD. (6) Researchers suspect that the increase of calcium in the blood that occurs after supplementation may facilitate the calcification of arteries, whereas calcium obtained from food is absorbed at slower rates and in smaller quantities than from supplements. (7) It is also suspected that extra calcium intake above one’s requirements is not absorbed by the bones, but is excreted in the urine, increasing the risk of calcium kidney stones. The excess calcium could also be circulated in the blood, where it might attach to atherosclerotic plaques in arteries or heart valves. (8)

Cancer, Kidney Stones, and Other Health Risks

The Office of Dietary Supplements at the National Institutes of Health has compiled a comprehensive review of the health risks associated with excess calcium, particularly from supplementation. (9)

For example, daily supplementation of calcium at 1,000 mg is associated with increased prostate cancer risk and an increase in kidney stones. (10)

Additionally, a recent Swedish study reported a 40 percent higher risk of death among women with high calcium intakes (1,400 mg and above), and a 157 percent higher risk of death if those women were taking a 500-mg calcium supplement daily. Those rates were compared to women with moderate daily calcium intakes between 600 and 1,000 mg. (11) A Consumer Lab analysis found that many of the calcium supplements they analyzed failed quality testing for reasons including lead contamination and mislabeled contents. (12)

Other Forms of Calcium Supplementation

Even if you’re not popping a calcium pill every morning, that doesn’t mean you’re not consuming supplemental calcium. Many commonly consumed foods in the United States are fortified with supplemental forms of calcium, including:

  • Orange juice
  • Breakfast cereals
  • Non-dairy milk
  • Bread
  • Instant oatmeal
  • Graham crackers
  • Other staples of the Standard American Diet

While these foods are typically eliminated on a whole-foods or Paleo diet, it’s important to pay attention to whether some of your fridge staples, such as commercial almond, coconut, or other varieties of non-dairy milk, are fortified with calcium. You may be consuming more supplemental calcium than you realize.

In addition, many multivitamins contain significant amounts of calcium, so be sure to check the label if you’re taking one. This is one reason I advise you to throw away your multivitamins in most cases: they contain too little of the right nutrients and too much of the wrong ones.

Natural dairy products like yogurt, cheese, and milk contain dietary calcium—but clearly they wouldn’t be a good fit for someone who has trouble digesting dairy. Weight-bearing exercises can help improve bone health, but for someone who has experienced injuries in the past, these could be worrisome.

Situations like these are a big part of why I believe so strongly in collaborative healthcare. A person who needs to increase their calcium levels and improve their bone health—without supplementation—could work with a Functional Medicine practitioner to develop a diet plan, a personal trainer to establish safe weight-bearing exercises, and a health coach to implement those changes.

We provide an in-depth education into Functional Health in the ADAPT Health Coach Training Program. I believe that health coaches who have an understanding of Functional Health concepts will be better prepared to offer powerful emotional support to their clients—and they’ll be able to partner with Functional and integrative medicine practitioners as part of a collaborative healthcare team.

Want to learn more about the role Functional Health coaches play in collaborative healthcare? Click here for more on the ADAPT Health Coach Training Program.

The Safest Ways to Get Enough Calcium

If you’re concerned about keeping your bones healthy, you’re better off getting your calcium from food sources like:

  • Dairy products
  • Canned, bone-in fish (e.g., sardines, salmon, etc.)
  • Dark, leafy greens
  • Seeds (especially poppy and sesame)
  • Almonds

The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for calcium for adult men and women is 1,000 mg—or approximately three servings of dairy products or bone-in fish per day. Pregnant and lactating women, and adults 70 and older, need 1,200 mg per day.

If you’re not able to meet your daily needs for calcium with diet alone, there is one calcium supplement that is unlikely to cause the problems that are associated with most other forms of supplemental calcium: whole bone calcium.

Whole bone calcium is a natural, bone-derived calcium complex that contains not only calcium, but also collagen, growth factors, trace minerals, and all of the other elements that are present in healthy bone tissue. It would be expected to affect the body more like dietary calcium than like a calcium supplement, and for this reason I think it’s a good option for those that can’t get enough calcium from the diet.

Unfortunately, it’s difficult to find whole bone calcium supplements in local stores. I recommend Free-Range Pasture-Fed Whole Bone Calcium from Traditional Foods Market online to my patients. It’s made from free-range, pasture-fed cows from New Zealand.

Healthy bone formation also depends on vitamin D and vitamin K2, both of which regulate calcium metabolism. There are also other minerals besides calcium involved in supporting bone health, such as silica and magnesium. If you have adequate levels of these nutrients and regularly perform weight-bearing exercise, there is no need for calcium supplementation, which will likely do more harm than good. (13)

406 Comments

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  1. Chris,

    Is it not the case that calcium in milk products through pasteurization is converted to calcium carbonate, thus reducing its bioavailability and thus making it an ineffective and potentially harmful “source” of calcium?

  2. Before you take a supplement of any type, go to your Doctor and ask for a blood test. There are tests that will indicate your calcium levels, iron or vitamin B levels etc.
    If you are low in a certain vitamin your Doctor will advise you of the form of the vitamin to take and how much.
    Then you can go to your naturopath or health consultant and find the best product on the market
    I feel you can put to good use the different health professions available.
    However, what I will not tolerate regardless if they are a “Doctor”, naturopath or health consultant is a blind diagnoses without a blood test. I feel these types of diagnoses are like seeing a psychic… a stab in the dark.

    • Not always….if you are low in calcium in your blood, that never means you need calcium…it may indicate the opposite. If your body is very acidic, your body will take calcium from the bones and teeth and put it in the blood stream to try to raise the PH. In the meantime, creating problems with your kidneys, (stones)….etc. So, this could be a red flag to what you body is trying to tell you….in my case, my blood levels of calcium is very low meaning my calcium is where it should be, in my bones and teeth.

      • Normally I don’t comment, but I this poster is suggesting that low blood calcium is somehow indicative that the body has too much calcium and that you never need more. Ludicrous. Low and low normal blood calcium is nearly always present in secondary hyperparathyroidism caused by vitamin D deficiency. You have to test PTH and vitamin D to know what’s happening. This is one area where allopathic medicine has it right. The treatment is vitamin D and calcium. Restricting calcium further will only lead to more parathyroid leaching from your bones. In addition, you will continue to suffer the systemic consequenses of having insufficient D and calcium in your body. Now, if only low normal calcium levels triggered vitamin D follow-up tests, much cost and suffering could be ameliorated.

        “in my case, my blood levels of calcium is very low meaning my calcium is where it should be, in my bones and teeth”

        Low blood calcium is in no way an indicator of healthy bone calcification.

    • My Dr told me she won’t do needless blood work cause I (think) I might be lacking something in my diet . Three years ago they detected a goiter in my thyroid . After 6 months , with not giving me anything. They tested it and said Oh it shrunk . So I asked my Dr just the other day maybe I should get my thyroid checked again . All she said was if it’s not bothering you , why check it ?? The worse part of all is it didn’t cause a problem that I (know ) of before they found it. Ops sorry I got ahead of myself was needle biop. and not cancerous at that time . Gezzzzzz

  3. Thank you for your article Chris, I totally agree with you. As prescribed by her doctor, my mom was on calcium supplements for years and she has a bad case of bad circulation on her legs. She did a surgery years ago to try to fix it and continued taking calcium supplements, the circulation went bad again and she has bulged veins on both legs and she has to take pain medication every day. Three years ago I started studying nutrition because I was with a sinus infection that was not getting better, and I was prescribed many different antibiotics for that whole year and I ended up in the emergency room with a whole new bag of health problems… anyway, after reading a lot about supplements and many natural healing I found out that too much calcium supplement can do more harm than good to a person. I was really surprised by this news because I remember when I took some calcium supplements I felt pain in my legs and sometimes I had a little panic and difficulty breathing, and also I felt a little weird on my left side… that said, I stopped taking calcium supplements everyday, and now I only take the liquid trace minerals that has calcium among other minerals. I also remembered to call my mom and talk to her about these findings. My mom topped taking calcium for a week and started taking magnesium supplements. After one week she reported feeling less pain on her legs and also she said her legs didn’t feel heavy like bricks anymore. So people should not underestimate the researches naturopath doctors or even nutritionists do, just do a little research yourself and compare data or even test on yourself and you’ll see the results.

    • One of the best calcium supplements I’ve found is from Kind Organics, no rocks and completely food sourced and plant based. Great for PMS mood swings too! My doctor told me about this one.

    • Thanks Leann for your comments. Last year I switched to a better brand of calcium. Over the past several months I noticed I was having leg/foot pain during nighttime. It was a burning feeling, like nerve pain. Finally started researching before making a doctor appt. Sheesh, googling almost put me in a panic for an incurable health problem. Then I remembered an issue a friend had with heart valve sticking from two much calcium supplementation. I take 1200 mg at bedtime, plus liquid minerals too. Since I’m a very active adult, this leg pain most likely from poor ciruclation just didn’t make sense to me. I’m suspecting the calcium supplements. I’m thankful for this article. It is so difficult to know how to obtain best nutrition; I truly have no faith in the medical profession. I find it hard to believe they actually study nutrition in med school, because it is rarely considered in the doctor’s office. The last time I met with a nutritionist at a MD’s office (10 yrs ago) her knowledge of nutrition was so out of date, I shook my head. In the meantime, I’ve added vitamin E, more greens, and cut out the calcium supplements for now.

    • I wuld like to ask u wat kind of magnium did you take.ive ben having really bad pains im my legs i cant walk or sleep.nd now ive ben feeln like der stinking me wit needles.my legs gets swollen.nd have bad circulation.pliz help.ben to the hospital nd all dey do is give me pain medicines.i also have no strength in my legs.help

      • I have been dieting so I haven’t been getting the nutrients we need. I have been sedentary as well.
        My legs were becoming swollen with pain. I couldn’t put any pressure on my legs ,sitting, laying down or pressure in any way.
        I began to think it was time to see a doctor.
        On the meantime I took a CVS multi vitamin after my last meal.
        This is hard to believe but 20 minutes after the first night dose my legs were remarkably improved. Every night thereafter I took the vitamin and me legs are better. I bought some time to improve my dietary nutrition and moving my body with at least walking.

      • Leann, this is what I’ve gleaned from Dr. Carolyn Dean’s book and articles on types of magnesium to use and those to avoid:

        § (Magnesium forms that are more readily absorbed: Chelated magnesium, Magnesium taurate, chloride, glycinate, orotate, malate, L-Threonate or magnesium oil (a solution of magnesium chloride & water that can be sprayed or rubbed on the body).

        My wife uses the oil when she gets leg cramps, myself when my back aches and the benefit is practically immediate.

        § Magnesium taurate, glycinate, and orotate forms have less laxative effects than citrate.) (Book: The Magnesium Miracle – Dr. Carolyn Dean) http://drcarolyndean.com/magnesium_miracle/

        Forms of Magnesium to avoid: glutamate – neurotoxin related to aspartame; aspartate – neurotoxin same as previous; oxide

  4. http://www.amazon.com/The-Calcium-Lie-Doctor-Doesnt/dp/0981581854

    lots of Naturopaths know supplemental Calcium isnt useful. You have to look at the diet. Calcium only works in concert with a matrix of other minerals and even if you have all you need, a glut of sugar or booze could still throw you from the homeostasis boat. In “lick the sugar habit” Nancy Appleton goes into how valuable minerals are rendered toxic by sugar & alcohol. thats the problem- not a lack of anything but that childish part of us that wants a way to continue in self-destructive behavior and wants science to fix it !!! no self-change required. hahahah.

  5. Don is absolutely correct. One thing my doctor told me a few years ago, never believe anything you read on a .com website no matter who wrote it.

    If you going to surf the internet about health information just make sure the site URL ends in .edu

    I have to take calcium supplements for osteoporosis and asked my doctors the draw backs and if the extra calcium could collect in my arteries and cause a blockage. He actually laughed at me and wondered where I heard that from.

    There is no scientific proof that extra calcium is detrimental to a person’s health.

    Ask your doctor.

    • Ummm. There’s actually quite a bit of science out there, you just have to choose to read it, and decide to not put so much faith in doctors. Doctors aren’t healers; they are teachers who are largely taught things that are deleterious to good health without ever questioning anything.

      • Your research was paid for by GlaxoSmithKline, who in his right mind will trust a word of it?

        • Not me. I would rather trust a doctor who went to college for 8 years and did 2 more years in training.

          My doctor told me do not believe anything about calcium causing your arteries to become clogged with the mineral. It just don’t work that way.

          I wouldn’t over do and just take the amount your doctor tells you take.

          Too much research has been put into this and it was found that calcium supplements will not its build up in your arteries.

          • One think about doctors is, they don’t always keep up with newer research. Some do. Some doctors had to graduate at the bottom of the class.

          • most doctors not doing the research themselves, they only read papers, journals, and who gave them those?
            the one who really care about preserving health? or the one who only care about how to make more money?

      • I’m believing you Chris , because with being on LC eating for only 7 months . I have never felt so much Energy in Years . Before I felt tired all the time , even if I slept 8-10 hours . By 1 o’clock in the afternoon I had to take a nap . Wasn’t even I think a month after tossing , sugars , processed junk food and lower carbs . I could keep my Energy all day 🙂

    • You need a new doctor Bob before you find yourself looking up from an operating table due to a cardiac arrest from too much calcium. It’s really quite basic, calcium ‘contracts’, magnesium ‘relaxes’, so if one receives too much calcium and too little magnesium to balance the ebb and flow into the cells, it can cause hardening of the arteries which in time clog up leading to a stroke, heart attack, etc.; and you don’t want to go there if you don’t have to in order to flat line if you know what I mean.

    • I’m sorry, but taking the word of just one doctor is not alway sufficient these days. They are still human, and are responsible for keeping themselves up to date on the latest research. I have spoken with several doctors on this matter (I am looking for ways to aid the healing of 2 very slow healing broken bones in my leg) and they all agree that the latest research shows that calcium supplementation benefits do not outway the risks. Further, there is lots of research available out there if you do some digging – and available on sites that don’t end in .com. Any chance your doc is a bit old school?

  6. A little learning is a very dangerous thing. Chris Kresser is not a doctor, is not a nutritionist nor even a legitimate health scientist. Take all of his recommendations with a huge grain of salt and then consult your personal physician.

    • I put way more faith in what Chris has to say than what the majority of mainstream drs have to offer.

      Chris also believes in Let Food Be Thy Medicine and most drs believe in “Man, have I got a great prescription for you and when you have the side effects, I’ve got another one to fix that, too!”

  7. Assuming that good diet and weight bearing exercise will be enough is just wrong. I watch my diet carefully, do a lot of weight bearing exercise and take a small amount of supplemental calcium citrate with vitamin D, and have just found out that the bone density in my spine has worsened since last Dexa scan 3 years ago. Doctor now urging me to increase intake from calcium supps. I don’t want to, but what else to do? Heart disease, stroke and osteoporosis all run in the family

    • Gail,

      Get a whole food bone supplement like Garden of Life’s Plant Calcium or New Chapter’s Bone Strength. They both have a complex of algae-sourced nutrients like Vitamin D, Calcium, Magnesium and Vitamin K2. They each have their own trace minerals too. According to the Rotterdam study, mortality, cardiac events, and atherosclerosis were dramatically lowered with higher intakes of Vitamin K2. You could also increase your consumption of fermented foods, which are high in Vitamin K2.

      Good luck!

      Matt

      • Thats right, I´m just taking a Calcium supplement and have a good Vitamin K2 supplement by its side.

        I´m from Finland and here we have a pretty bad problem with hearth diseases with the people, we also have bad numbers in osteporosis. Still people here generally drink a lot of milk, but for some reason it doesn´t make our bones any stronger.

        According to my studies Vitamin K2 (especially MK-7) seriously may have a very good effect on atherosclerosis and the strenght of you bones.

        -Greetings from Finland 🙂

        • Milk will only benefit if your vitamin d status is high, or if the milk’s vitamin d status is high. Which means both or either need really strong sunlight, which i gather you do not get. If you couple this with high vitamin A consumption from butter and other sources, this will drive vitamin d status down further. The best bet in countries with low intensity uvb is to take vitamin d supplementation while taking vitamin A foods – for protection. We live in california, and even with uvb index of 5,6,7,8 and being very tanned, we are deficient because our exposure was not daily without fail, especially when eating butter and other sources of retinol. Sun exposure must be daily. When uvb is low, then one way to prevent bone demineralization is to keep alkaline diet, keep vitamin a consumption very low if at all, best use beta carotene from foods during winter – unless using vitamin d supplements – D to A ratio during winter might need to be around 3 to 1 to prevent vitamin d losses.

      • I use that supplement for myself, but I’ve been looking for one for kids since they can’t have dairy. Any suggestions? I haven’t found one without any toxic ingredients

  8. It was interesting to know that dietary intake of calcium protects against heart disease, but calcium supplements may increase the risk. I also take calcium supplements based on a nutrition expert’s advice. Do you think that I am doing right? Should I stop taking calcium supplements?

    • Please do not stop calcium supplements by what you read here. Ask you doctor.

      There plenty of reasons why your doctor spent 8 years in college and 2 years in training to become a doctor, plus the amount of money it cost him to become a doctor.

      Stopping your calcium supplementation could be hazardous to your health.

      • C=MD. I’ve been “treated” by more poorly trained doctors than good ones. Unfortunately, many doctors learn how to treat symptoms with pharmaceuticals rather than with nutrition and other means. I won’t go into all the details, but I wish I had seen functional medicine practitioners a long time ago. I wouldn’t have been in the mess I’m in now after decades of antacids, acid-blockers, antibiotics, etc… Undoubtedly, there are very good doctors out there. Just don’t assume that all doctors are competent.

      • Most Doctors are clueless about nutrition, they only use drugs backed by the FDA. They are more concerned with liability issues.

      • YES THEY SPEND YRS IN COLLEGE, THATS A GOOD THING, BUT WHEN THEY DON’T WARRN PATIENT ABOUT THE DANGER MED THAT THEY PERSCRIBE, HOW IT CAN AFFECT A PERSON TO HAVE A NONE REVERSE ILLNES WHEN ALL THE SIDE AFFECTS DOESN”T SHOWS ON PERSCRIPTION LABEL, IF I SEPND THOSE MANY YEARS IN SCHOOL TO BE A DR. ALEAST I WILL HAVE THE HEART TO TELL PATIENT, THE DANGER OF THE MED’ EVEN THOUGH IT WOULD HELP THE PATIENT,BUT ALEAST THE DR IS BEEN HONEST ABOUT WHAT THEY ARE PERSCRIBING,FOR EXAMPLE AN OLDER PERSON PERSCRIBE NAXOPREN, BUT NOT AWARE THAT THIS MED CAN CAUSE THEM TO HAVE A STROKE”

    • Jyoti, you will probably be better off getting your calcium from your diet than supplementation since generally our diets are high in calcium, low in magnesium which helps our body assimilate the calcium. Without it, you can experience a multitude of health issues, including heart disease as calcium contracts and without enough magnesium to buffer the effects, it can collect as in ‘hardening of the arteries’ which can lead to a heart attack or worse.

      I highly recommend checking out Dr. Carolyn Dean, ND, MD’s book called ‘The Magnesium Miracle’ as it’s been a blessing to our family for getting us on the right track of the calcium, magnesium issue, thus improving our health by eliminating calcium supplementation but increasing our magnesium intake on a 1:1 ratio since our diet already contained too much calcium.

  9. What do you recommend if you have just had parathyroid surgery? The doctor has me on 6 calcium pills a day. I am currently having extreme pain in my hips and upper thighs and I am wondering if this could be from too much calcium.

    • Please look at magnesium as it appears you’re out of balance from your calcium intake and you’re causing more harm than good. Magnesium can relax and reduce the pain associated with your conditions.

      Dr. Carolyn Dean, ND, MD who wrote the book “The Magnesium Miracle” has extensively researched the marvels of this mineral and my wife and I have reaped the health benefits of following a more 1:1 ratio of Calcium-Magnesium rather than an often recommended 2:1 ratio intake.

  10. Doesn’t it matter WHAT calcium supplement you take? I take MCHC, which is known to be much more effective and safer than the calcium carbonate, for example, which is usually the subject of those tests. How do you feel about MCHC?

    • You ought to look at how much calcium you’re getting in your diet before supplementing as you may find your causing more problems. MCHC may be fine but depending upon its ingredients, are you getting enough magnesium? Magnesium helps to assimilate the calcium into the cells without it accumulating it on the arterial walls as in hardening of the arteries.

      Please look at magnesium as it appears you’re out of balance from your calcium intake and you’re causing more harm than good. Magnesium can relax and reduce the pain associated with your conditions.

      I highly recommend you check out Dr. Carolyn Dean, ND, MD who wrote the book “The Magnesium Miracle” has extensively researched the marvels of this mineral and my wife and I have reaped the health benefits of following a more 1:1 ratio of Calcium-Magnesium rather than an often recommended 2:1 ratio intake.

  11. this post by lynne
    AUGUST 23, 2014 AT 10:05 AM
    was very accurate. The use of K2 and D3 is now being proven to help people with skin problems. This month (October) there have been posts by five people, in another group, who saw their psoriasis clear up. One woman did research and learned that an excess of calcium had been found in psoriasis cells and also Alzheimer plague cells.

    Another person with osteo porosis reported seeing a 25% improvement in bone density. The calcium supplement suggested was made from algae and termed algae cal which is produced by a number of companies. The vitamin K2 should be one that is labeled as MK-7 K2 which is the most effective one in directing calcium to the bones.

    Vitamin D3 needs to be taken with the K2. They work together. Seems that many people are deficient in vitamin D3 so 5,000 iu is a good starting point. You can double this to 10,000 units per day taken twice a day and a K2 each time. K2 made from a Japanese food called natto is the best source to get it from.

    Anyone taking any meds at all needs to read the pharmacology carefully. many drugs interfere with natural body chemistry causing loss or depletion of minerals and and other essential nutrients.Others are endocrine disruptors causing hormonal imbalances. two of those drugs are Keppra and Depakote. There are dozens more.

    Lets not forget that certain foods many of us consume also effect calcium levels and cause other problems. Phosphoric acid in colas, artificial sweeteners, preservatives and food colorings are not helping. Many of our meats are fed antibiotics. Cows are fed antibiotics along with a growth hormone to stimulate milk production and this is passed on to you. Smoking also interferes with new bone development, in particular the osteoblast cells that help to continually generate new bone.
    the book Lynne mentioned has come highly recommended to me by others. Kate Rheaume-Bleue’s book ‘Vitamin K2 and the Calcium Paradox. How A Little Known Vitamin Could Save Your Life.

    • Calcium from algae is in the same form as that from limestone. So the enhanced uptake is probably in some way due to the associated minerals in the harvested red algae.

      I read a few of the studies cited by Algaecal and each of the 4 had at least on doctor associated with Nutri Today, a company that markets supplements.

      My opinion after reading most of these comments is that although most of you “paint a full picture” you are reiterating research from others. I can tell you as a researcher you cannot imagine the number of confounders that can be included or not do obtain the P=(desired by researcher) or the CI.

      If you have lived a life that has left you with chronic conditions then yes, you probably won’t change your ways so you might as well take supplements, but you should have just realized that life is precious. I know many will take offense to that statement, but I’m entitled to my opinion.

      My father is a retired chemist and his influence on me was to eat right to live a long life. I have always wanted to live past 120 and have lived, loved, and taken care of myself to enable that goal. Relying on shortcuts like eating crap supplements instead of enjoying a good diet? Sorry, I just cannot understand it and I find rationalization in most of your comments so you will not have to face changing your diet, or that it’s too late to change your diet. But maybe you can pass it along to the next generation, you know the one with the 40% obesity rate. :/

      • Hi Basic Chemistry,

        AlgaeCal is not the same form as limestone. We have had a lab analyze the calcium types with 4 different calcium forms identified (calcium hydroxide, calcium sulphate, calcium phosphate and calcium carbonate). Besides the calcium forms, there are 13 other bone supporting minerals naturally occurring in AlgaeCal.

        I also want to mention that AlgaeCal also has no association whatsoever with Nutri Today.

        – Monica from AlgaeCal

      • Why so cynical? Not everybody is too blame for their health issues because of poor lifestyle or diet. That comment is hurtful. Just as Darlene commented, I had my parathyroids removed during thyroidectomy and now, 20 years later, after battling low calcium levels for years, I am learning of the effects of calcium supplements. Why so cynical? Not everyone is a scientist. What’s the point in being educated on the subject if not sharing that information with others but making general accusations. Sad.

        • I agree with Christine. A lot of folks, like myself, are a product of their upbringing and circumstances. I was raised in a place with “ignorant” eating habits. I was never overweight–as a matter of fact, I have always been very lean. Because I’m a scientist, I tended to do my own research and tried new things…learned about different habits. It wasn’t until I was in my late 20’s early 30’s that I discovered the damage that my parent’s diet had done to my bones. I also had undiagnosed endometriosis, which, tied closely to hormonal imbalance, leads very often to osteoporosis.
          So, you see…I always did have a better diet than most of my family, but I didn’t get to choose for the first 18 years of my life (basically–you ate what you were given, especially if you grow up in a conservative environment). By the time I fully developed a science-smart consciousness (pre-internet), most of the damage was done. Consider yourself lucky by having the chance to being born to a science-smart family–good for you. People that aren’t born to that privilege have to stay positive, inform themselves, and try to fix the damage done to the extent that it is possible. I do agree with you that calcium coming from live foods is the best source, along with tension/torsion exercise. Good luck to everyone in seeking their best health!

    • I am a dairy farmer, and I take offense at your assertion that milk and meat contain antibiotics!!! Both milk and meat cannot be sold without very intense testing, with very large penalties if even tiny amounts are found. They are tested several times for accuracy. Please don’t speak things as true without knowing from your own experience.

      Also, very few dairy farms use BGH anymore, and the milk is labeled as containing it, so most dairy processors pay a premium for producers NOT to use it. Again, please don’t say things that aren’t true! Besides, it hasn’t been proven that BGH does any hard to humans. It is species-specific, and very likely cannot affect humans. However, we do not use it, and, as I said, extremely few do.

  12. I cut them out long ago . Many doctors now say they are bad and its best to get your cal from foods raw mlk yogurt etc
    greens also and take Vit k2 so it is well absorbed in body and do weight walking with a vest , I love the one by nyknyc
    it fits well looks very nice

  13. I take Nature’s way Alive Calcium, it’s made up of kale, collard greens, spinach and red algae. Very easy on the stomach. It’s all food based so it’s healthier.

  14. Last year I suffered from severe insomnia with many sleepless nights and severe anxiety (the inability to relax) I had been taking magnesium because I heard it worked so well for insomnia however it did not work, nothing did. One night I took a mineral supplement with calcium in it and slept really well. I am casein intolerant so calcium deficiency was more likely. However ever since I have been taking calcium (paired with magnesium and vit c) supplements. It really helps me sleep. However, the last couple of months I have been suffering from really bad depression, depersonalization, mood swings, suicidal thoughts, very low blood pressure, digestive issues,… Two weeks ago I stopped the calcium supplement gradually my depression began to lessen, the mood swings and thoughts are more under control, so I wonder if excessive calcium may had something to do with it or at least worsened it (depression is a convergence of things). I am not going to take calcium supps anymore however they did help me sleep, so need to increase me calcium naturally.

    Just be aware of calcium supplements they could lead to depressive thoughts and uncontrolable moods

    • Hi,

      I have had VERY similar issues as you. For that reason i feel like telling you what has worked with me. I began looking into a variety of supplements to help me with the issues you mentioned especially with sleeping. Look into your gut health. Alot of people with sleeping and anxiety issues have problems with their gut. IT can be a number of things but mainly bacterial/candida overgrowth or parasites in the gut can cause exactly those issues. I have tried EVERYTHING from magnesium to calcium to passion flower and more but it all starts with the gut. Healthy gut and diet can fix ALOT of issues.

    • You don’t mention vitamin D… I suffer depression if I do not get my vitamin D. It takes 10,000 units daily to keep me away from the darkness! Balancing our supplements is the key. Unbalance is damaging . Ppl who take calcium w/o vitamin D etc create an inbalance.

        • Betty, Thanks for the validation. I wanted to share a website in case U also suffer osteoporosis: SaveOurBones and also the Vitamin D Council. I subscribe to both newsletters. Both think taking calcium alone could be damaging. I had heart surgery last June for small heart arteries so this calcuim stuff is vital info for me. Thanks again.

  15. Let’s not throw the baby out with the bath water. If (1) you take a highly absorbable supplement and (2) you also take the cofactors necessary (Zn/Mg/P/HCl etc.) and (3) you take something to make sure the calcium goes to where it’s needed and stays away from where it is not needed (K2) – and a well balanced supplement will do these things – then if you don’t have that perfect diet or you have the wrong kind of genetic predisposition, calcium supplementation is a good thing indeed.

    • I agree, Wyandotte. I eat almost no dairy except Clover Stornetta brand Kefir, minimal high-oxalate high-calcium vegetables, have high-end serum 1,25 VitD (calcitriol), high urine oxalates and related high urine calcium. I take with food: 800-1000 mg calcium citrate with a mixed-forms magnesium, 800 iu Vit D, 100 mcg Vit K, and sometimes extra magnesium, as part of my supplements.

      I think the lion’s share of bone building comes from testosterone and estrogen, but there has to be calcium etc. for hormones to work with. So taking calcium of whatever form (maybe in hard tablets that don’t dissolve well), without regard to complementary magnesium, and with only fumes of estrogen remaining postmeno in some cases — this was always an inadequate idea! We need to paint the fuller picture, give more context, for “facts” to be properly understood. Anything else is sophistry (rhetorical persuasiveness that gives the illusion of wisdom without the fullness of substance).

      We need to be examining more deeply the individual case, and not scaring people away generally from optimum use of calcium if they actually do need it.

  16. I am on prednisone therapy and take 10 mg of prednisone daily for another condition.

    After being diagnosed with osteoporis, my specialist told me that I must take a calcium supplement to stop further bone degradation.

    I now take 1250 mg of calcium citrate, 900 IU of vitD3, and 625 mg of magnesium.

    No ill effects from these supplements. Will take another DEXA scan in about a year.

    • Hi Carlo, I’m in no position to advise you to take your calcium and its cofactors separate or all together. But I can tell you that I take them all together at once halfway through my dinner.
      The best advice I can give to you is to properly research the info thoroughly in order to better inform yourself. Always remember that knowledge is power; here is a good place to start: http://naturallysavvy.com/blog/are-calcium-supplements-safe-the-real-facts

    • How I understand calcium metabolism is that fat sol vitamins play a crucial role as well as vit D3.
      Vit D grabs on to calcium (whether it is from diet or supplements) so the more vit D you have the more calcium will be absorbed. But that is only part of the story.
      The calcium then needs to be directed to where it should be this does not happen unless vit K2 specifically activates the protein osteocalcin which attracts calcium into bones and teeth where it is needed.
      Vit K2 also activates the protein MGP (Matrix gla protein) which sweeps calcium out of soft tissues like arteries and veins and joints where the calcium is harmful.
      When K2 is lacking the proteins that depend on K2 remain inactive. The result being a decline in bone mineral density, poor dental health and accumulation of calcium laden plaque in blood vessels and arteries leading to heart disease and stroke, heard of hardening of the arteries?
      If you take calcium supplements or vit D or both or infact just want to be healthy you need to ensure that you have plenty of vit K2 and vit A. Vit A apparently escorts excess calcium removed from tissue out of the body.
      Please read Kate Rheaume-Bleue’s book ‘Vitamin K2 and the Calcium Paradox. How A Little Known Vitamin Could Save Your Life. Fascinating, you won’t regret it.

    • I have felt that taking Cal/Mag helped me sleep. I learned that Calcium wakes up your muscles and Magnesium calms them down. If I couldn’t sleep I’d put a few drops of Magnesium under my tongue. It seemed to put me to sleep. I had read in my thyroid information that you shouldn’t take Calcium or Magnesium with thyroid med. So I would take my thyroid pill in the morning and the Cal/Mag later in the day. I use to take my 81 mg aspirin in the morning but figured out that if I take it late at night I sleep very well because it calms my restless leg and active brain. I can say that because I quite taking everything except the Thyroid in the morning and the aspirin at night.

      Now my legs seem like they are bursting varicose veins right and left and hurt at night. Why is that?

  17. Calcium supplements are meant for those who don’t already get enough calcium through their diets or are unable to absorb as much calcium as they should due to old age or any other number of factors. If someone is already getting enough calcium then yes, taking supplements won’t help much in terms of bone strength. However, just because you take in enough calcium doesn’t mean your body is absorbing all of it which means you probably aren’t getting as much calcium you think you are. Excess calcium intake leads to storage of the calcium in the bones as well as in the muscle which leads to stronger and healthier bones as well as muscles that do not eventually pull calcium out of the bones in order to work. The results of these studies don’t seem to be very conclusive in the first place and they don’t seem reliable. If you are getting enough calcium then there is no need to overload but the majority of us are not getting 130 -150% of calcium which is what we should be striving for.

  18. I am only 42, but currently using steroid inhalers as well as Synthroid. I had a dexa scan and indeed I have osteopenia, an have recently started having a lot of trouble with my teeth. For these reasons I finally decided to buy Calcium, but I have always heard that the supplement is not much of a benefit. I know nothing about algae or the other things mentioned above, can someone give me sound advice as how to maintain my calcium with all these drugs I have to take? I am greatly worried about how fast my teeth are eroding as a result of this, thanks.

    • Julia,

      I am over 60. While in my early 50’s found out I had osteopenia. After doing a lot of same research mentioned in this blog, i chose a plant based calcium supplement (in the 700 mg range) which included K2 and some other necessary minerals. Like others I added D3, magnesium (taken at different time from calcium) and potassium. Osteopenia persisted. But then I found out about something I haven’t seen others mentioning. Strontium, which is also taken separately from calcium (it is not the same as radioactive Strontium 90). There is research showing that Strontium may be the missing link even to the point of not needing to take calcium supplementation. For what it is worth I now have a healthy bone density. There are other sources but, I use AlgaeCal.

      • HI Julia,stumbled across your post ,I’m 53 and also have Osteopenia,how long before your healthy bones where healthy again (after you tried strontium) I’ve only just been diagonsed . Bev

  19. While it is true that, supplemental calcium taken ALONE may end up in our blood vessels or our heart, where it causes harm, rather than our bones, where it is needed; this article fails to advise the public to NOT stop taking calcium supplement. This article is implying that any supplemental calcium is unsafe, which is untrue if the needed co-factors are taken too. It is important to stress that calcium needs important co-factors such as additional magnesium, vitamin D, vitamin A, Vitamin E, vitamin K2, omega–3 fatty acids, Manganese, Boron, zinc, and copper for a well balanced Calcium Metabolism. The answer is not to stop taking it as long as these co-factors are taken as well. Many studies have shown that added calcium plays an important role in building and maintaining bone mass—and also reduces the risk of colon cancer.

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