Is Calcium Clogging Your Arteries? Nine Surprising Ways to Undo the Damage

Most of us don’t associate calcium with heart health. But according to Thomas E. Levy, MD, JD, calcium can have a surprisingly dangerous impact on your arteries.

Jo-Carolyn Goode | 10/9/2014, 11:01 a.m.
We’re all familiar with the statistics: Heart disease is the leading cause of death in America. That’s why so many ...
Death by Calcium

Henderson, NV (October 2014)—We’re all familiar with the statistics: Heart disease is the leading cause of death in America. That’s why so many of us incorporate healthy eating, exercise, and preventative screening into our lifestyles. However, your heart-focused diligence might not be as effective as you hope if you’re also practicing another “healthy” habit (this time associated with bone health) in your routine: supplementing with calcium.

Yes, you read that correctly. According to Thomas E. Levy, MD, JD, most of what you think you know about calcium is incorrect.

“Not only does a high calcium intake not improve bone strength, as we’ve been repeatedly told, it fuels a dangerous calcium excess everywhere in the body, including the arteries,” says Dr. Levy, author of Death by Calcium: Proof of the Toxic Effects of Dairy and Calcium Supplements (MedFox Publishing, 2013, ISBN: 978-0-615-88960-3, $29.95, www.deathbycalcium.com). “It’s not a coincidence that measurement of calcification (yes, as in calcium!) in the arteries is used to assess the development and progress of coronary disease.”

If you’re not convinced, consider the following statistics:

Fully developed plaques in the arterial walls contain 80 times more calcium than healthy tissues.

A study of over 61,000 participants over 19 years found that taking over 1,400 mg of calcium per day had a 40 percent increase in risk of death from cardiovascular disease in general and a 114 percent increase in risk of death from a reduced flow of blood to the heart muscle.

A comprehensive review of over 15 clinical studies shows that if you take an extra 500 mg of calcium per day, you’re 30 percent more likely to have a heart attack. Dump more calcium into the cauldron and the brew becomes even deadlier.

How is this possible? The problem, says Dr. Levy, is that calcium taken in good faith “relocates” from the bones to other areas of the body.

“This release of calcium literally showers all of the other tissues and organs in the body with a chronic excess of calcium,” he explains. “And calcifications in various tissues promote a host of health problems in addition to heart disease, including strokes, cancer, and virtually all chronic diseases. In fact, high bodywide calcium levels increase all-cause mortality by 250 percent.”

The good news is you can take steps to reverse the damage calcium may be causing. Here, Dr. Levy shares nine steps to take:

Limit your dairy intake. If you drink milk as a beverage, consider replacing it with other drinks. In particular, avoid buying and drinking milk that has added vitamin D, since vitamin D, when ingested with calcium, can “overdose” the body’s calcium absorption. But here’s some good news for dairy lovers: There’s no need to cut cheese, ice cream, and other products out of your life entirely. However, it’s best to make these items a special treat instead of a daily staple. Having your favorite cheese or yogurt once every week or two will minimize the negative impact of the extra calcium.

“And one last tip: Read labels,” Dr. Levy says. “Many products that aren’t typically associated with calcium can have large amounts added to them in a presumed attempt to promote good health and make the products in question even more nutritious. Common culprits of calcium-spiking include: orange juice, non-dairy milks (such as rice milk and soymilk), tofu, canned salmon, canned beans, trail mix, and more. Incredibly, even some milk has had extra calcium added into it.”