Taking calcium in the form of supplements may raise the risk of plaque buildup in arteries and heart damage, although a diet high in calcium-rich foods appears to be protective, scientists have found.
After analysing 10 years of medical tests on more than 2,700 people, researchers at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in the US, said the results add to growing scientific concerns about the potential harms of supplement.
“Our study adds to the body of evidence that excess calcium in the form of supplements may harm the heart and vascular system,” said Erin Michos, from Johns Hopkins Medicine.
Previous studies have shown that “ingested calcium supplements, particularly in older people do not make it to the skeleton or get completely excreted in the urine, so they must be accumulating in the body’s soft tissues,” said nutritionist John Anderson, from University of North Carolina in the US.
Scientists also knew that as a person ages, calcium based plaque builds up in the body’s main blood vessel, the aorta and other arteries, impeding blood flow and increasing the risk of heart attack.
The researchers looked at detailed information from the Multi Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis, a long running research project which included more than 6,000 people.