Recent Blog Articles
Pouring from an empty cup? Three ways to refill emotionally
Give praise to the elbow: A bending, twisting marvel
Sneezy and dopey? Seasonal allergies and your brain
The FDA relaxes restrictions on blood donation
Apps to accelerometers: Can technology improve mental health in older adults?
Swimming and skin: What to know if a child has eczema
A muscle-building obsession in boys: What to know and do
Natural disasters strike everywhere: Ways to help protect your health
Dementia: Coping with common, sometimes distressing behaviors
Screening tests may save lives — so when is it time to stop?
Calcium and heart disease: What is the connection?
There's no good evidence that taking calcium supplements can harm your heart. Still, it's best to get this mineral from foods, not pills.
For decades, doctors have encouraged people to consume plenty of calcium, a mineral best known for building strong bones. About 43% of people in the United States, including close to 70% of older women, take supplements that contain calcium. Concern about osteoporosis—the bone-weakening disease that leaves older adults prone to fracturing a hip, wrist, or other bone—has driven this trend.
Calcium also keeps your muscles, nerves, and blood vessels working well, and it's one of the key minerals involved in blood pressure control. With regard to heart disease, though, there's one potentially confusing aspect of the calcium story. A test researchers often use to look for early signs of heart disease is known as a coronary artery calcium (CAC) scan (see "Seeing calcium specks inside arteries"). There's no direct connection between the calcium you consume and the amount in your arteries. But in recent years, several studies have observed a link between the use of calcium supplements and a higher risk of cardiovascular disease.
To continue reading this article, you must log in.
Subscribe to Harvard Health Online for immediate access to health news and information from Harvard Medical School.
- Research health conditions
- Check your symptoms
- Prepare for a doctor's visit or test
- Find the best treatments and procedures for you
- Explore options for better nutrition and exercise
I'd like to receive access to Harvard Health Online for only $4.99 a month.Sign Me Up
Already a member? Login ».
As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides access to our library of archived content. Please note the date of last review or update on all articles.
No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.
Free Healthbeat Signup
Get the latest in health news delivered to your inbox!