Calcium is the mineral that people hear the most about. It is naturally present in milk, dairy products, spinach, turnip greens, kale and broccoli. Calcium is not only important for forming strong bones and teeth but also plays a big role all over the body. The movement of calcium into the cells of the heart muscle controls your heartbeat. Similarly, calcium is responsible for the contraction and relaxation of all muscles and blood vessels in the body. Calcium is also necessary for blood to clot, hormones to be released and for enzymes to function properly. Without calcium, your nerves would be unable to transmit any messages.
However, calcium’s role in the body is not always good. When the balance between calcium and other minerals in the body becomes disturbed or people with underlying cardiovascular disease take high-doses of calcium supplements, calcium can be deposited in the arteries. These calcium buildups in the body can lead to health problems like heart attacks.1
On the other hand, calcium is also used by doctors to help with certain medical conditions. For example, it is commonly used to reduce the nerve damage resulting from cancer chemotherapy, thereby reducing pain, random cold/hot and tingling sensations and spasms.
Numerous studies have looked at the link between calcium intake and various diseases. People who get more calcium tend to have lower blood pressure.2,3 Plus, a John’s Hopkins University study found that people who eat a diet high in fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy have lower blood pressure.4 Some studies show that a higher calcium intake lowers the risk for developing colon, ovarian and breast cancer.5-8 Several other studies demonstrate that calcium can reduce or prevent obesity.9-12 Calcium intake also lowers the risk of type 2 diabetes13,14, stroke and heart disease15-17 (see figure). Calcium is known to prevent PMS in women.18-20
It is interesting how calcium does all of these things, but yet all we hear about is how calcium is important to prevent osteoporosis. Brainwashing!
One underlying theme from most of the studies is that it is best if calcium is from foods rather than supplements. That is because many calcium supplements are not optimal. More on this later though…next we need to examine the roles of other minerals.
1 Bolland MJ, Barber PA, Doughty RN, et al. Vascular events in healthy older women receiving calcium supplementation: randomized controlled trial. BMJ. 2008;336:262-6.
2 Allender PS, Cutler JA, Follmann D, Cappuccio FP, Pryer J, Elliott P. Dietary calcium and blood pressure. Ann Intern Med. 1996;124:825-31.
3 Bucher HC, Cook RJ, Guyatt GH, Lang JD, Cook DJ, Hatala R, et al. Effects of dietary calcium supplementation on blood pressure. JAMA. 1996;275:1016-22.
4 Appel LJ, Moore TJ, Obarzanek E, Vollmer WM, Svetkey LP, Sacks FM, et al. A clinical trial of the effects of dietary patterns on blood pressure. N Engl J Med. 1997;336:1117-24.
5 Kampman E, Slattery M, Bette C, Potter J. Calcium, vitamin D, sunshine exposure, dairy products, and colon cancer risk. Cancer Causes Control. 2000;11:459-66.
6 Holt P, Atillasoy E, Gilman J, Guss J, Moss SF, Newmark H, et al. Modulation of abnormal colonic epithelial cell proliferation and differentiation by low-fat dairy foods. JAMA. 1998;280:1074-9.
7 Toriola AT, Surcel HM, Calypse A, Grankvist K, Luostarinen T, Lukanova A, Pukkala E, Lehtinen M. Independent and joint effects of serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D and calcium on ovarian cancer risk: A prospective nested case-control study. Eur J Cancer. 2010; In Press.
8 McCullough ML, Rodriguez C, Diver WR, Feigelson HS, Stevens VL, Thun MJ, Calle EE. Dairy, calcium, and vitamin D intake and postmenopausal breast cancer risk in the Cancer Prevention Study II Nutrition Cohort. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2005 Dec;14(12):2898-904.
9 Davies KM, Heaney RP, Recker RR, Lappe JM, Barger-Lux MJ, Rafferty K, et al. Calcium intake and body weight. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2000;85:4635-8.
10 Heaney RP. Normalizing calcium intake: projected population effects for body weight. J Nutr. 2003;133:268S-70S.
11 Parikh SJ, Yanovski JA. Calcium intake and adiposity. Am J Clin Nutr. 2003;77:281-7.
12 Zemel MB. Regulation of adiposity and obesity risk by dietary calcium: mechanisms and implications. J Am Coll Nutr. 2002;21:146S-51S.
13 Pittas AG, Dawson-Hughes B, Li T, Van Dam RM, Willett WC, Manson JE, Hu FB. Vitamin D and calcium intake in relation to type 2 diabetes in women. Diabetes Care. 2006 Mar;29(3):650-6.
14 Kirii K, Mizoue T, Iso H, Takahashi Y, Kato M, Inoue M, Noda M, Tsugane S; Japan Public Health Center-based Prospective Study Group. Calcium, vitamin D and dairy intake in relation to type 2 diabetes risk in a Japanese cohort. Diabetologia. 2009 Dec;52(12):2542-50.
15 Iso H, Stampfer MJ, Manson JE, Rexrode K, Hennekens CH, Colditz GA, Speizer FE, Willett WC. Prospective study of calcium, potassium, and magnesium intake and risk of stroke in women. Stroke. 1999 Sep;30(9):1772-9.
16 Umesawa M, Iso H, Date C, Yamamoto A, Toyoshima H, Watanabe Y, Kikuchi S, Koizumi A, Kondo T, Inaba Y, Tanabe N, Tamakoshi A. Dietary intake of calcium in relation to mortality from cardiovascular disease: the JACC Study. Stroke. 2006 Jan;37(1):20-6.
17 Umesawa M, Iso H, Ishihara J, Saito I, Kokubo Y, Inoue M, Tsugane S; JPHC Study Group. Dietary calcium intake and risks of stroke, its subtypes, and coronary heart disease in Japanese: the JPHC Study Cohort I. Stroke. 2008 Sep;39(9):2449-56.
18 Bocchieri E, Thys-Jacobs S. Role of calcium metabolism in premenstrual syndrome. Expert Review of Endocrinology and Metabolism. 2008;3(5): 645-655.
19 Bertone-Johnson ER, Hankinson SE, Bendich A, Johnson SR, Willett WC, Manson JE. Calcium and vitamin D intake and risk of incident premenstrual syndrome. Archives of Internal Medicine. 2005;165(11):1246-1252.
20 Ghanbari Z, Haghollahi F, Shariat M, Foroshani AR, Ashrafi M. Effects of calcium supplement therapy in women with premenstrual syndrome. Taiwan Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology. 2009;48(2):124-129.
About The Author
Dr. Vieira has a Ph.D. in Biomedical Sciences from the University Of Florida College Of Medicine. She has worked in hospitals and clinics conducting clinical research with patients, as well as in biotechnology laboratories, researching the biochemistry and molecular biology of the body at a cellular level. Later, she worked in the food industry with the largest food company in America. There she conducted nutrition research focused on discovering and confirming the health benefits of vitamins, minerals, fruits, vegetables, herbs, amino acids, plant extracts and other natural compounds. Her projects there included discovering novel ingredients for improving bone strength, preventing/treating diabetes and more. She has extensively studied natural medicines and therapies, leading to her discoveries of existing research on dietary and lifestyle changes that prevent, cure or improve most health conditions.
This eCourse is copyrighted with all rights reserved. The author does not assume liability for the misuse of any information contained herein. The information contained within this e-book is offered to provide you with beneficial concepts regarding your health and well-being. The author is a Ph.D.-level medical researcher, not a physician. Please consult your primary care physician before beginning any new program of nutrition or dietary supplementation. By consulting your primary care physician, you will have a better opportunity to understand and address your particular symptoms and situation in the most effective ways possible.
While every attempt has been made to provide information that is both accurate and proven effective, the author and, by extension, the e-book, makes no guarantees that the information presented herein will help everyone in every situation. As the symptoms and conditions for each person are unique to individual histories, genetics and environment, successes will vary.
If you have any questions or comments please submit them below…