Can Calcium Cause Brain Lesions, Kidney Stones, And Heart Attacks?

If you’ve been diagnosed with osteoporosis or osteopenia, chances are you’re taking calcium supplements. But it turns out that taking the wrong kind can have serious health consequences.

So today, I share with you three scientifically-proven facts about the very real dangers of calcium supplementation.

And of course, I’ll show you how to supplement with calcium safely.

Let’s start with calcium’s effect on the cardiovascular system…

1. Calcium Supplements Associated With Myocardial Infarction

Researchers wanted to investigate the question of whether or not calcium supplements raise the risk of cardiovascular problems. They analyzed multiple studies where participants over the age of 40 were given 500mg or more of calcium daily. The study does not say what kind of calcium was used, but it does note that Vitamin D was not co-administered with the calcium. Researchers looked at “self reports, hospital admissions, and death certificates.”1

The data brought them to a disturbing conclusion:

“Calcium supplements …are associated with an increased risk of myocardial infarction.”1

Also noted in the study is the widespread use of calcium supplements in the general population, adding to the disease burden of the population at large.

The fact that calcium supplements can cause heart attack should certainly give the osteoporosis community pause. But it’s important to consider some key points.

First, the type of calcium makes all the difference. Typical calcium supplements contain inorganic calcium (carbonate, citrate, dolomite, di-calcium phosphate, tri-calcium phosphate, coral, oyster shell or bone meal). Only a small amount of this “rock” calcium gets absorbed, so the remainder gets lodged in tissues where it doesn’t belong (such as the heart).

Second, the amount of calcium matters. Large amounts of inorganic calcium (participants took 500mg or more in the study) cannot be assimilated by the body. As noted above, only a small amount of this calcium is processed.

The more rock-like calcium you take, the more ends up in various body tissues…and not just your cardiovascular tissue, as you’ll learn next.

2. Calcium Supplements And Kidney Stones

In a very large, comprehensive study lasting 12 years, researchers followed the dietary calcium intake and calcium supplementation of 91,731 nurses, aged 34 to 59. None of the nurses had ever had kidney stones prior to the study.

During the 12-year study, 864 nurses developed their first kidney stones, and scientists noticed something intriguing, since the most common stones are made of calcium bound to either oxalate of phosphate. The study results showed that the higher the nurse’s dietary calcium intake – that is, obtaining calcium from foods – the less likely they were to get kidney stones. Conversely, nurses who took calcium supplements were 20% more likely to get kidney stones.

“The study’s investigators conclude that a high intake of dietary calcium reduces the risk of kidney stones but supplemental calcium increases the risk.”2 [emphasis added]

This is important. Obtaining calcium from foods actually makes it less likely you’ll develop a kidney stone, and here’s why.
Dietary calcium binds with oxalate in the gut and also in the urine, thus forming a compound that cannot be absorbed. If your dietary intake of calcium is low, this allows more free oxalate to be absorbed in the gut and excreted via the urine. For those who form calcium oxalate kidney stones, reducing dietary calcium would therefore increase stone risk.
In fact, according to a 2005 study,

“Restricted calcium intake results in increased urinary oxalates, a risk for stone formation This is a proposed cause of the association between reduced calcium intake and increased supersaturation of calcium oxalate. …Clearly, strong research evidence now supports adequate calcium intake for patients who form kidney stones.”3

Adequate Dietary Calcium Plus Decreased Sodium And Protein = Lower Kidney Stone Risk

This fascinating study went on to note a 5-year randomized clinical trial where

“[…] men with a history of calcium oxalate stones found that a normal calcium, decreased sodium, and decreased animal protein diet was more effective for reducing stone events than was a restricted calcium diet. So, adequate calcium plus decreased sodium and protein intake had a significantly more protective effect against stones than decreased calcium intake alone.”3

If you are following the Save Our Bones Program, then you know it emphasizes the importance of getting calcium from foods. In addition, the 80/20 pH-balanced diet recommended in the Program is low in table salt and animal protein. So the Program helps protect and strengthen your kidneys as well as your bones, and it does this in various ways.

Not only does the 80/20 diet help protect against the formation of kidney stones, as noted above; it also offers a non-pharmaceutical approach, so you can avoid dangerous osteoporosis drugs and the kidney damage they can cause.

3. The Connection Between Calcium Supplements And Brain Lesions

Alarmingly, supplemental calcium can end up in the brain, potentially leading to the formation of lesions. Brain lesions are associated with dementia, stroke, multiple sclerosis, and a host of other conditions.
According to a 2014 study:

“[…] supplement users had greater lesion volumes than non-users, even after controlling for food Ca intake, age, sex, race, years of education, energy intake, depression and hypertension.”4

It goes on to point out that this effect can happen even with low dosages of calcium:

“The present study demonstrates that the use of Ca-containing dietary supplements, even low-dose supplements, by older adults may be associated with greater lesion volumes.”4

Organic vs. Inorganic Calcium: Know The Difference

The reason the dietary calcium did not have adverse health effects is clear: calcium found in foods, especially plants, is readily absorbed by the body. Conversely, inorganic calcium supplements are the equivalent of eating rocks, which are simply not a food source. Inorganic calcium just doesn’t absorb into your cells (or your bones) like organic calcium does.

So if you’re taking a calcium supplement, you’ll want to make sure it is the kind you’d find in foods.

The secret is to look for plant-based calcium. When plants take up calcium from the soil (rocks), they convert it into a form they can use (plants need calcium for the growth and development of their cell walls). This is a form that is highly bioavailable to humans and doesn’t cause any digestive distress.

TrueOsteo Is A Plant-Based Organic Calcium Supplement

Derived from hand-harvested, living algae, TrueOsteo™ is more than just calcium. Taking calcium in isolation is much less effective than combining it with other minerals, and TrueOsteo™ offers all the minerals found in algae, including magnesium, silicon, and Vitamin D3. (TrueOsteo™ also contains strontium, but only the very small amount found naturally in the algae.)
With TrueOsteo™, it is not necessary to take large amounts of calcium, thanks to its efficient absorption rate.

You’ll find Vitamin K2 in TrueOsteo™ as well, because it contains a protein called osteocalcin that enables calcium absorption.
And TrueOsteo™ is my calcium of choice because it contains not only bone-building vitamins and minerals, but also the cortisol-lowering plant extract Ashwagandha.

Exclusive 20% OFF TrueOsteo Coupon Code for Save Our Bones Readers!

Use coupon code: SAVEOURBONES at checkout to get 20% off your order!

Try TrueOsteo, the perfect calcium, now →

Please note that TrueOsteo™ is only available in the U.S., Canada, the U.K., Ireland, Australia, and New Zealand. My apologies to those of you who live in other areas of the world.

Till next time,

References

1Roland, M.J., et al. “Effect of calcium supplement on risk of myocardial infarction and cardiovascular events: meta-analysis.” BMJ. July 29, 2010. 341:c3691. doi: 10.1136/bmj.c3691. Web. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20671013

2“Taking Calcium Supplements? Want To Avoid Kidney Stones?” MedicineNet. April 2015. Web. http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=1887&page=2

3/sup> Krieg, Christy. “The Role of Diet in the Prevention of Common Kidney Stones.” Urologic Nursing. 2005. 25(6):451-456. Web. http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/521368_4

4Payne, M.E., et al. “Elevated brain lesion volumes in older adults who use calcium supplements: a cross-sectional clinical observational study.” The British Journal of Nutrition. July 2014. 112(2):220-7. doi: 10.1017/S0007114514000828. Web. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24787048

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60 comments. Leave Yours Now →
  1. F M April 12, 2017, 2:17 pm

    My mum takes warfarin what organic calcium tablets can she take? I’d like to replace the inorganic tablets she takes on prescription. She is experiencing dementia since taking prescription drugs, coincidence ?

  2. Kim Schultz December 8, 2016, 9:38 am

    Vivian,
    Thank you so much for ALL the research you do that benefits so many of us!!
    I read the other day that Vit C and calcium supplements neutralize each other. I had not heard that before. I would love to hear what you know about this.

    Thx!!
    Kim Schultz

    • Save Institute Customer Support December 8, 2016, 11:48 am

      Hi Kim,

      Please check your e-mail for a message from Customer Support. 🙂

  3. Marcia Pearson October 8, 2016, 10:00 am

    My physician highly recommends taking boron to strengthen bones. Anyone tried that or heard of it? Vivian?

  4. Tom October 2, 2016, 10:33 pm

    I suspect that if calcium(a critical mineral) is going to areas in the body it is not supposed to go, various life threatening illness occur. If there is a way to make calcium go where it is should be going, it might be the answer to these illnesses.

  5. Maria May 30, 2016, 5:51 pm

    Hola el trueosteo es lo mismo que algaecal
    Gracias
    María

  6. Maria May 30, 2016, 5:45 pm

    Hola. Vivían el trueosteo lo puedo comprar por amazon.com, gracias y cuanto se debe tomar
    Gracias
    Maria

  7. Sara April 12, 2016, 7:14 pm

    What happened to Calcium Aspartate Anhydrous?

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  16. margaret September 4, 2015, 3:45 pm

    margaret
    i am taking.
    osteocare.plus
    is safe to keep taking them

  17. Necla July 23, 2015, 12:27 pm

    never underestimate the power of sleep driaivetpon. Everything would seem better if you had several weeks of awesome sleep. I’m sorry it feels rough though and I pray it gets better. It’s a good thing that they think it’s normal for a mom to try and plan so much for them. They think it’s the norm and don’t realize it’s exceptional. Some day- they will.

  18. Jan May 22, 2015, 3:55 pm

    Dear Vivian- Just a good find to inform you of. The Enzymedica Company has a wonderful product called PH Basic. It will correct your acid system using Calcium from marine algae (which is the best) nutrients, botanicals, and enzymes. Do check it out!
    Nice Day To All. Sincerely Jan

  19. Kate Garrity May 15, 2015, 12:29 pm

    Saludos, Vivian. I would like to know what you think about coral calcium (high grade of course). Also I have been checking on LiveStrong about calcium citrate and it tells me the following: Calcium Absorption

    Your body easily absorbs and digests calcium citrate, and it is a good source of calcium, especially if you are elderly. Calcium citrate does not require extra stomach acid to dissolve and absorb into the body, so you can take it on an empty or full stomach. Magnesium, phosphorous and vitamins D and K are vital for calcium absorption and use in the body. Calcium from calcium phosphate is not easily absorbed, except in the form of calcium triphosphate. Research by Hitomi Kumagai, Ph.D., published in “Biofactors” in 2004 showed that when 92 percent of phosphorous is removed from soybeans, a food with a high content of calcium, intestinal absorption of calcium increases. Take calcium supplements in small doses, less than 500 milligrams per dose with at least four hours between doses so you do not consume excessive amounts, which can lead to developing kidney stones. Drink eight cups of water throughout the day to avoid constipation.

  20. Olivia May 12, 2015, 5:13 pm

    Does the calcium in True Osteo cause constipation?

    And is calcium (amino acid chelate, di-calcium phosphate) organic?

    Thank you.

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA May 13, 2015, 9:57 am

      Hi Olivia,
      All supplements can affect people in different ways, so there are just too many individual variables to answer your question. But I can tell you that I’ve not experienced constipation while taking TrueOsteo. And yes, the calcium in TrueOsteo is organic. 🙂

      • Olivia May 13, 2015, 10:15 am

        My other question is: is calcium with amino acid chelate di-calcium phosphate…..is this organic?

        Thanks so much! I am just beginning your program and learning a lot of new information. It can be overwhelming.

  21. Will May 6, 2015, 3:21 am

    Vivian,

    I asked a question about the TrueOsteo high calcium to magnesium ratio which seems out of recommended balance, but have lost that link. Could your provide an answer on this link as to why you recommend this product when the ratio is so high. Thanks

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA May 6, 2015, 3:18 pm

      Hi Will,
      TrueOsteo does not contain all the Foundation Supplements recommended in the Program (no one supplement has everything). You can easily make up for the low magnesium content by taking a multivitamin that contains magnesium. This will bring your magnesium intake up to desirable levels. 🙂

      • Will May 7, 2015, 6:24 am

        Thank you for your quick reply – and your honest answer. I wish more sites recommending products would respond to questions submitted regarding their contents. Good job!

  22. Pru Hill May 4, 2015, 6:19 pm

    I have been given a calcium supplement called REPAREN. I am not sure if it is organic but I would like to know if anyone knows about it especially Vivian, I would love your comments if possible.

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA May 4, 2015, 8:30 pm

      Pru, Reparen contains calcium phosphate, which is inorganic. 🙂

      • Pru Hill May 5, 2015, 4:14 am

        Thank you Vivian, I feel that I don’t want to take this form of calcium. I will probably try True Osteo but did notice it has some magnesium stereate in it. I have read not so good reports about it.

  23. Evelyn Schupp May 1, 2015, 8:03 pm

    what do you think of calcium hydroxide and calcium oxide?

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA May 2, 2015, 11:16 am

      Both of those forms of calcium are inorganic, Evelyn. Calcium oxide is made from inorganic materials like limestone or oyster shells that contain calcium carbonate. When heated in a lime kiln, they produce calcium oxide (quicklime). Calcium hydroxide is made from calcium oxide that has been mixed or “slaked” with water, which is why calcium hydroxide is often called “slaked lime.” I think I would stick with plant-based calcium! 🙂

  24. Arlette May 1, 2015, 7:41 pm

    Is surgery (parathyroidectomy) the only option for osteoporosis caused by an overactive parathyroid gland as seen on the Setamibi scan. I was told calcium & vit D will not help unless the overactive gland is removed. What is the underlying cause of this? Can nutrients & supplements help?

  25. arlene May 1, 2015, 5:20 am

    The “Us against the Establishment” hook works well for Save Our Bones, so it is milked for all it is worth. I suspect the next step on Vivian’s money-making path, is to create and sell her own supplements. God forbid. We need to save ourselves from Save Our Bones.

    There are other algae-sourced calcium supplements (Red Mineral Algae Plant Based Calcium by Piping Rock, OR Nature’s Calcium made by Marigot). Vivian does not mention these as options, because she (her Save Our Bones business) is not being paid by these manufacturers.

    • JulieAnn Marston June 15, 2015, 9:25 am

      I share your assessment. Returned the book, which was insanely overpriced, repetitive and so self-promotional.

  26. Carolyn April 30, 2015, 7:50 pm

    I was under the impression that Vitamin Code Raw Calcium from Garden of Life was a good one to take. I didn’t switch to True Osteo, because the ratio of magnesium to calcium was better in the Vitamin Code. Wasn’t the ratio for magnesium, suppose to be half of the calcium? I will go for a 2 year repeat bone scan and will see if there has been a positive change.

    • Millie May 1, 2015, 9:38 am

      Carolyn, I use the same calcium supplement as you do and have been very happy with it. I will see if I get good results in another year. 🙂

  27. Pollie April 30, 2015, 4:13 pm

    Vivian, what made you switch from AlgaeCal to TrueOsteo?

    • Joan April 30, 2015, 4:52 pm

      I would also like an answer to this question.I take Bone Support organic Sourice of Life Garden taking these all the time.I don’t beleave in going from one Calcium to another quite happy with the ones I am taking,to be honest I think it confuses people.

      • Customer Support May 1, 2015, 12:12 pm

        There is no need to switch calcium supplements unless you want to, Joan. 🙂

        • Louise T May 8, 2015, 1:08 pm

          HI
          I am 49 years of age and was diagnosed with orthopedic a0 42.
          I started to go through the menopause about 9 years ago and have not had a period for 2 years I also have a low libido.
          I have never trusted the use of hrt and so have used homeopathy acupuncture recommended calcium tablet. for the past year 5 months I have just taken a vitamin d with nutri bullet in the morning and I have had lots more energy. However I have also a degenerative left hip and for the past month I have been suffering with pain in my hip front of shims aching and weakness in ankles. This pain has woken me from my sleep a lot. I do exercise once a week with weights at zumba.
          I am just at a loss and don’t know what to do next. I want to get strong in have my next dexa plan in September. it last showdown I was on the cusp of developing osteoporosis. By the way the pain feels like a knoring toothache. Hope you can advise me.
          Thanks Louise

  28. Suzy April 30, 2015, 4:07 pm

    I tried TrueOsteo, but I had to give it up as even two capsules a day gave me the most severe constipation I have even known. Yet another member of this group found it gave her diarrhea. I guess we each have to see how our bodies tolerate different supplements. I was quite saddened that I couldn’t use this product.

  29. Millie April 30, 2015, 2:57 pm

    I drink about 2 cups of Silk almond milk daily. This has calcium carbonate added to it. I am wondering if this is safe. One serving provides 45% of daily calcium and that would be all calcium carbonate. Please advise before I end up killing myself. Thanks!

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA April 30, 2015, 3:23 pm

      Hi Millie,
      Your body can assimilate small amounts of calcium carbonate, and the amount found in almond milk is typically very small.

      • Millie April 30, 2015, 4:36 pm

        So, even though it says 45 % daily allowance in each cup it is not all calcium carbonate? I take a plant base calcium supplement from Garden of Life. This just made me worry that I am getting the wrong kind of calcium in my milk.

        • Customer Support May 1, 2015, 12:11 pm

          Millie, if this is a concern for you, you might try making your own almond milk at home. There are many recipes online, but the basic ingredients are simply almonds and water. 🙂

  30. Susan April 30, 2015, 2:31 pm

    I’ve been taking Trueosteo but I’ve had another kidney stone and the doctor wants me to take calcium with citrate like Citrical. What should I do?

  31. Helen S April 30, 2015, 1:25 pm

    Thank you for another timely and crucial piece of information that validates how important it is to understand everything we put in our bodies. This week I looked at my sink-side can of non-scratch cleanser and discovered it was “limestone, calcium carbonate”. Many calcium supplements, then, are compressed powdered rock. No wonder they cause problems! Our systems were never meant to digest rock. Thanks, Vivian.

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA April 30, 2015, 1:30 pm

      Amazing, Helen! And I bet the cleaner has a warning not to ingest it…

  32. Barbara April 30, 2015, 9:56 am

    I wish Vivian would cite her sources. Phrases like “Researchers wanted to investigate…” “Also noted in the study…” and “In a very large, comprehensive study…” Which researchers? What study? Funded by whom? Vivian is providing critical information we need; citing the source of her information is just as critical. So much can be discerned by knowing who funded a study. We all know that studies can be skewed to sell a product.

    • Customer Support April 30, 2015, 10:02 am

      Barbara, if you’ll scroll to the bottom of the post under Vivian’s signature, you’ll see a list of numbered references. They correspond with the reference numbers in the post. 🙂

  33. Sheena April 30, 2015, 9:06 am

    Thanks Vivian for the wonderful info, although still can’t find TruuOsteoin South Africa. So am taking SOLALTECH’s BioCal-Mag

    Calcium Glycinate, (Standardised To 19,3% Calcium) Supplying 100mg Absorbable Calcium 517.5mg
    Magnesium Glycinate, (Standardised to 18% Magnesium) Supplying 50mg Absorbable Magnesium 277.5mg
    Vitamin D3 100IU
    Boron 250µg

    And a Vit K additive.

    Hope this works… :=)
    Sheena

    • Margie Coe April 30, 2015, 2:35 pm

      I take Algaecal and strontium at night away from any calcium. What do you say to that? I hope it’s a good plan. Thanks

  34. Carol April 30, 2015, 6:18 am

    I have also been thinking about taking Trueosteo but I’m concerned about it having strontium in it. I thought that you are supposed to take strontium at a different time during the day, not at the same time as you take your calcium supplement? Right now I’m taking bone-up that contains microcrystalline hydroxyapatite. I also do not like to swallow pills so I always open up my calcium supplements and put them into my smoothie in the morning along with some other vitamins. Thanks Vivian for this information!

    • Cheryl April 30, 2015, 10:33 am

      I’m also taking a formula that has microcrystalline hydroxyapatite. I’ve stopped taking the recommended 6 daily (for 1200 mgs) and am trying to get more CA from food. I took Algae Cal for a few years (minus the strontium, which I’ve read should be taken 3-4 hours apart from CA – too hard, w. my schedule). My dexascan showed no improvement. Also tried another supplement that has some strontium. A heel test showed a decline in bone density. So at this point I am rather confused and concerned; already have osteopenia (which I learned is a name the drug companies made up) and am very close to osteoporosis.Maybe True Osteo is better.

      • Carol May 4, 2015, 6:20 am

        Thanks for the information. I’m not sure about this, but I feel if the calcium supplement has only a small amount of strontium listed on the label, than it might be okay to take them together in one pill?

  35. June April 30, 2015, 3:47 am

    I have been thinking about taking Trueosteo, I take Algeacal at the moment. Has anyone tried this and is it possible to open capsules and mix with juice as I find the capsules hard to swallow.

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA April 30, 2015, 9:53 am

      Hi June,
      Yes, you can open the TrueOsteo capsules and sprinkle them on food or swirl them into a smoothie or juice. 🙂

    • Marilyn April 30, 2015, 9:09 am

      I have a hard time swallowing pills also. I easily open the capsules (I use either AlgaeCal plus or True Osteo) and add to my cereal in the morning or my yogurt with fruit at evening meal or with a lettuce salad with dressing. It seems to mix better with solid food than with a liquid. It might work with a smoothie which is thicker.

  36. nazir April 30, 2015, 3:33 am

    Dear sir,
    Is it safe to use amway products like cal mag d and bone health

  37. Naomi Scott August 4, 2016, 7:38 pm

    Have you done research on Cannabis and healing bones ? Israel has done research for years but I find it hard to know How much to use.
    Thanks

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