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.
Stop taking calcium supplements. Whether you cut back on dairy products or not, discontinue all calcium-containing supplements and antacids.
“These supplements offer virtually no health benefits and simply increase the concentration of harmful calcium deposits in your body,” Dr. Levy states. “Be sure to read your labels carefully, because many supplements have substantial amounts of calcium added into them.”
Get friendly with vitamin C. First, a little background: When a toxin enters the body, it starts a molecular “fire” that grows and spreads like a blaze through a forest. Scientists call these “fires” oxidative stress. Interestingly, chronically elevated calcium levels in and around the cells is a common denominator for most, if not all, forms of oxidative stress. Vitamin C is a powerful weapon on both these fronts, says Dr. Levy.
“As an antioxidant, it is a frontline defender against oxidative stress,” he explains. “And it also prevents calcification and calcium depositions elsewhere in the body by keeping calcium in a dissolved state. The result is that vitamin C supplementation can prevent and address cardiovascular disease and all degenerative diseases, including cancer, osteoporosis, and more.”
Increase your magnesium levels. Magnesium and calcium can be characterized as biological antagonists, with magnesium acting as a natural calcium channel blocker. In fact, their antagonism toward each other excludes the possibility of having elevated levels of both minerals simultaneously! Magnesium dissolves calcium deposits, decreases elevated intracellular calcium levels, increases bone density, decreases fracture incidence, decreases the incidence and severity of heart disease, and more.
“Regular supplementation with bioavailable forms of magnesium is of the utmost importance in treating cardiac disease,” Dr. Levy explains. “When you indulge in dairy specifically, take an extra 100 to 300 mg of magnesium glycinate beforehand. You can find magnesium glycinate at many health and vitamin stores, and you can also order it online.”
Fight unwanted calcium deposits with vitamin K. Vitamin K plays a critical role in preventing and reversing abnormal calcification in tissues outside of bone—such as arterial calcifications, which lead to increased coronary heart disease risk.
“The good news is, an increased dietary intake of vitamin K2 has been associated with lesser amounts of coronary artery calcification and a lesser incidence of coronary heart disease,” Dr. Levy says. “And vitamin K1 supplementation has been shown to slow the progression of coronary artery calcium scores over time, even in relatively low doses.”
Combat calcium with omega-3 fatty acids. We’ve all heard that omega-3 fatty acids, which are found in fish oil, promote brain and heart health and defend against degenerative diseases. How? In large part, they inhibit cellular uptake of calcium!
“Omega-3 fatty acids are calcium channel blockers and have demonstrated impressive results in decreasing the chances of death from heart disease,” Dr. Levy shares. “In a review of studies looking at the dietary and/or supplemental intake of the omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA, the conclusion was that these nutrients were effective in preventing coronary events, including cardiac death, especially in persons with a high cardiovascular risk.”