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Warning about Calcium Supplements

Updated: May 9

What you should know about calcium supplements!

Healthy bones are critical to overall health
Foot Bones

What happens when you take a calcium supplement?  Could it contribute to artery calcification and heart disease? YES.

Warning about calcium supplements. Calcium supplements do not magically head straight to your bones.  For this to happen requires a series of complex interactions  For example, if you have low Vitamin D or Vitamin A, then the calcium will not make it into your bones.

If you do not have sufficient Vitamin K2 the calcium will not make it into your bones.  Note: I said K2 not K1, they are totally different.  You could have loads of calcium floating around your body and your blood, but without Vitamin K2 it will not prevent osteoporosis and build bone strength.

What happens to this calcium if there is insufficient Vitamin D, A and Vitamin K2.  The calcium goes into your artery walls to calcify arteries.  This is dangerous as it can raise blood pressure, accelerate coronary artery disease (CAD) and increase heart attack risk.  So if you are supplementing with calcium without the above complementary vitamins, you could be putting your body at risk and not helping your bones at all.

A test is sometimes used to establish the level of arterial calcification.  It is called a coronary artery calcium (CAC) scan and has proven to be a very reliable indicator of a persons risk of heart disease.  Unfortunately, it is not used as regularly as it could be for reasons I don’t understand.

So what actions can you take to prevent this problem?

  1. For strong bones you need adequate protein in your diet.  Approximately 2 grams per kilogram of lean body weight per day is good, with emphasis on the first meal of the day.  So eggs for breakfast is a great option.

  2. You are unlikely to need additional calcium as it is already in most foods you eat, but if you do then make sure you also follow steps 3, 4 and 5.

  3. Use real butter for Vitamin A.  (Good fats are crucial for best absorption of the vitamins mentioned in this article.)

  4. Ensure sufficient Vitamin D.  Periodic sunbathing without sunscreen when the sun is not strong is a great option.  Supplements will help but are a poor substitute for real sunshine.

  5. Regularly eat foods that contain Vitamin K2.  Best sources are animal foods such as meat, eggs, fish, and some fermented foods.  Natto is apparently good.  Animals that eat green plants make Vitamin K2, so if all your animal food sources are grain fed you will need to supplement.  If you choose to supplement, make sure that you are getting the MK7 version of Vitamin K2 which is more easily assimilated.

The great news about Vitamin K2 is that when the level is up it helps remove calcium from arteries and deposits it into bones where it should be.

Seek professional medical advice before making dietary changes, particularly if you have underlying health problems.  I can answer questions. Good health,  George Elder, Diet Researcher, Dip. Nutrition.

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