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November 2012

Calcium Intake May Not Affect Heart Health

High calcium intake may not increase the risk of hardened calcium buildups, or calcification, in the blood vessels, according to a study.

Coronary artery disease (CAD), also known as coronary heart disease (CHD), occurs when the coronary arteries (the blood vessels that supply oxygen-rich blood to the heart muscle) gradually become narrowed or blocked by plaque (a combination of fatty material, calcium, scar tissue, and proteins) deposits. The plaque deposits decrease the space through which blood can flow, leading to poor blood flow.

In the current study, researchers set out to determine if high calcium intake may negatively affect heart health. They analyzed the possible link between calcium and coronary artery calcification, an important measure of CAD. The team looked at information from the Framingham Offspring Study and collected data from 690 women and 588 men ranging from 36 to 83 years-old. The participants completed questionnaires and attended clinic visits between 1998 and 2001, and underwent computed tomography (CT) scans between 2002 and 2005.

The results suggested that coronary artery calcification scores did not differ among those who had high calcium intake and those who had low calcium intake, whether from diet or supplements.

The researchers concluded that their study does not support the hypothesis that high calcium intake may be harmful to heart health. They emphasized that evidence to support changing calcium recommendations for bone health in favor of heart health protection is lacking. Further study is needed to confirm these results.

CAD is the most common form of heart disease and the leading cause of death in men and women in the United States. CAD affects about 14 million men and women in the United States, and claims more lives than the other seven leading causes of death combined.

For more information about CAD, please visit Natural Standard's Medical Conditions database.


  1. Natural Standard: The Authority on Integrative Medicine.
  2. Samelson EJ, Booth SL, Fox CS, et al. Calcium intake is not associated with increased coronary artery calcification: the Framingham Study. Am J Clin Nutr. 2012 Nov 7. View Abstract
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