Peter Hibberd, M.D., is a doctor whose advice is based on more than 28 years of hospital outpatient and inpatient experience. He is an experienced emergency medicine physician, surgeon, and consultant. Dr. Hibberd is certified by the American Board of Emergency Medicine. He is also a fellow and active member of the American Academy of Family Physicians, an active member of the American College of Emergency Physicians, and a member and fellow of the American Academy of Emergency Medicine. Dr. Hibberd has earned numerous national and international professional certifications, memberships, and awards.
Tags: calcium | vitamin | d | heart | attack

Should I Stop Taking Calcium?

Monday, 16 July 2012 09:13 AM

Question: I have taken calcium and vitamin D for many years to avoid osteoporosis. I am a 70-year-old female. I have read about the new study showing that calcium can increase the risk of a heart attack, so I have stopped taking it. What can I do to make my bones stronger?

Dr. Hibberd's answer:
The National Osteoporosis Foundation recommends that adults age 50 and older get 800 - 1,000 IU of vitamin D every day and this is the level that 97% of adults will need for normal calcium balance. As with any vitamins, excess amounts taken do not produce measurable benefit. Excessive vitamin intake can be dangerous, especially with other vitamins such as vitamin A. The lesson here is to balance your vitamin supplementation to match areas your diet is deficient in, and do not overdo it. Vitamin D levels are easily measured and are available on request from your physician if you feel you may be deficient. Avoid self directed vitamin supplementation without physician guidance, it can be harmful if you charge into it without knowing what other variables your supplementation may affect.
We definitely do not wish to oversupplement calcium. Calcium is needed for the heart to contract normally and for bones to maintain strength. Calcium levels are regulated by hormones in our bodies, and excessive supplementation is associated with death from arrythmia, kidney failure, and the acceleration of development of kidney stones and early calcium deposition in tissues. Elevated calcium levels are dangerous to us, can cause our hearts to stop, and cause a metabolic disaster for us when inappropriately supplemented
The two ways to get calcium is by food and supplements. The availability of calcium to our bodies depends upon the presence of vitamin D. Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin that is converted into its active form in our skin tissue upon sunlight exposure, and is the reason those in the cooler climates may need vitamin D supplementation.
Exercise is important for treating and preventing osteoporosis. Not only does exercise improve your bone health, it also increases muscle strength, coordination, and balance, and it leads to better overall health. Following a diet rich in calcium and vitamin D along with exercise helps strengthen bones at any age. However, exercise must be monitored according to your age, existing medical conditions, menopause, or lifestyle choices such as tobacco use and excessive alcohol consumption. It is important to speak with your doctor about your bone health. While some doctors think it is possible that taking high-dose calcium supplements may increase your risk of a heart attack, most calcium supplements are safe when used in recommended amounts, and will have little or no effect on your heart attack risk. It is important to talk to your doctor to determine what is best in your case.

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Calcium is dangerous in high dosages and can cause death from heart arrythmia.
Monday, 16 July 2012 09:13 AM
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