Calcium Supplements Pose Serious Risks for Diabetics: New Study Reveals

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A groundbreaking study reveals that habitual calcium supplementation significantly increases the risk of cardiovascular disease and mortality in individuals with diabetes. This vital information sheds new light on the potential dangers of these commonly recommended supplements, especially for those managing diabetes.

The Danger Lurking in Your Calcium Supplements: Elevated Cardiovascular Risks for Diabetics

A recent study published in Diabetes Care has uncovered alarming findings about the risks associated with calcium supplementation for individuals with diabetes. This extensive research, encompassing data from 434,374 participants in the UK Biobank, reveals a stark contrast in health outcomes between diabetics and non-diabetics taking calcium supplements.

The study, led by Zixin Qiu and colleagues, titled "Associations of Habitual Calcium Supplementation With Risk of Cardiovascular Disease and Mortality in Individuals With and Without Diabetes," found that habitual calcium supplementation was linked to significantly higher risks of cardiovascular disease (CVD) and mortality in diabetic individuals, but not in those without diabetes. Specifically, diabetic participants who regularly took calcium supplements faced a 34% higher risk of cardiovascular disease incidence (HR 1.34; 95% CI 1.14, 1.57), a 67% higher risk of cardiovascular disease mortality (HR 1.67; 95% CI 1.19, 2.33), and a 44% higher risk of all-cause mortality (HR 1.44; 95% CI 1.20, 1.72).

In contrast, no significant association was observed in non-diabetic participants (HR 0.97 for CVD incidence; HR 1.05 for CVD mortality; HR 1.02 for all-cause mortality). The study found significant multiplicative and additive interactions between calcium supplementation and diabetes status on risks of CVD events and mortality, highlighting the compounded risk for diabetics.

Previous Research on Calcium Supplements and Heart Health

The findings of this study align with previous research showing a negative association between calcium supplements and heart health. An alarming meta-analysis published in the journal Nutrients titled "Cardiovascular Effects of Calcium Supplements" concluded that calcium supplements increase the risk of heart attack by 27%-31% and the risk of stroke by 12%-20%【5†source】. This study based its findings on randomized, placebo-controlled trials and noted that the increased cardiovascular risk associated with calcium supplements is consistent with previous observations that higher circulating calcium concentrations are linked with cardiovascular disease.

The study suggested several possible pathophysiological mechanisms for these effects, including impacts on vascular calcification, vascular cells, blood coagulation, and calcium-sensing receptors. The researchers concluded that "the non-skeletal risks of calcium supplements appear to outweigh any skeletal benefits."

The Issue with Inorganic Calcium

The reality behind these findings is that inorganic calcium, commonly found in supplements, is toxic and dangerous compared to calcium from food sources. Inorganic calcium supplements, such as those derived from limestone, bone meal, or oyster shell, lack the natural co-factors found in food that help the body properly utilize calcium. Without these co-factors, inorganic calcium can end up in places it shouldn't be, such as in the arteries, leading to vascular calcification and increased cardiovascular risk.

Previous articles have delved into the cardiotoxicity of inorganic calcium supplements and the flawed guidelines that have led to their widespread use. For instance, the World Health Organization's bone mineral density (BMD) guidelines set in the mid-90s reclassified normal aging as a disease by using the bones of a 25-year-old at peak bone mass as the standard for older women. This resulted in millions of women being diagnosed with osteoporosis or osteopenia and being prescribed calcium supplements unnecessarily.

The Need for a Paradigm Shift

Given these findings, it's clear that there needs to be a paradigm shift in how we approach calcium supplementation, especially for women. Rather than relying on inorganic calcium supplements, which have been shown to increase the risk of cardiovascular disease, individuals should focus on obtaining calcium from food sources. Foods like kale, bone-building broths such as miso, plums, and pomegranates provide natural calcium along with the necessary co-factors that ensure its proper utilization by the body.

Instead of promoting calcium supplements, we should emphasize a holistic approach to bone health that includes a balanced diet rich in plant-derived minerals, regular exercise, and maintaining optimal hormone levels. This approach not only supports bone health but also protects against cardiovascular disease and other health risks.

Conclusion

This compelling study prompts a reevaluation of calcium supplement recommendations, particularly for diabetics. Given the elevated risks, it's clear that diabetic individuals should exercise caution and seek professional advice before continuing or initiating calcium supplementation. By focusing on natural dietary sources of calcium and adopting a holistic approach to health, we can protect our hearts and bones simultaneously.

To learn more about Type 2 Diabetes, please visit the GreenMedInfo database on the subject here.


References

1. Zixin Qiu et al., "Associations of Habitual Calcium Supplementation With Risk of Cardiovascular Disease and Mortality in Individuals With and Without Diabetes," Diabetes Care 47, no. 2 (2024): 199-207, https://doi.org/10.2337/dc23-0109.

2. UK Biobank, "UK Biobank: Protocol for a Large-Scale Prospective Epidemiological Resource," 2023, https://www.ukbiobank.ac.uk/.

3. American Heart Association, "Vitamin Supplements: Hype or Help for Healthy Eating," May 3, 2022, https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-eating/eat-smart/nutrition-basics/vitamin-supplements-hype-or-help-for-healthy-eating.

4. Ian R. Reid, "Cardiovascular Effects of Calcium Supplements," Nutrients 5, no. 7 (2013): 2522-2529, https://doi.org/10.3390/nu5072522.

5. BMJ 2010; 341 doi: 10.1136/bmj.c3691 (Published 29 July 2010)

6. Calcium supplements with or without vitamin D and risk of cardiovascular events: reanalysis of the Women's Health Initiative limited access dataset and meta-analysis. BMJ. 2011;342:d2040. Epub 2011 Apr 19. PMID: 21505219.

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