The health news scare that has brought people to see me this week was the report last Thursday that calcium supplements could be linked to an increased risk of heart attack. I can say I blame people for asking questions – many older people are on calcium to protect against osteoporosis, and the news story concluded that such supplements should “be taken with caution.”
What is frustrating is that, while this might be based on a new study, it is not new news and there was no mention of Vitamin D. We have known for some time that there could well be a link between calcium supplements and heart problems, but there has never been any association with calcium when it is taken with Vitamin D, the crucial vitamin that we need to make calcium do its proper job and not just make a nuisance of itself. This new study, published in the Journal Heart came to exactly the same conclusions: Dietary calcium intake was not linked with heart disease, and nor were calcium supplements when taken with Vitamins (the study did not define which, but this will usually be Vitamin D). Calcium doesn’t work for your bones without Vitamin D, so the message is simple – don’t take calcium on its own, but as long as it is with its Vitamin partner there is no reason to be concerned about this report.