Protecting Your Bones May Hurt Your Heart

Calcium plus vitamin D may increase risk of heart attack in postmenopausal women

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Postmenopausal women often take calcium and vitamin D in order to keep their bones healthy. However, calcium and vitamin D can also be bad for a woman's heart, according to a new study.

Researchers found that women who started taking both calcium and vitamin D at the same time had a higher risk of heart attack and other heart problems. On the other hand, the risks to heart health did not increase for women who were already taking calcium supplements and then started taking both calcium and vitamin D.

"Calcium plus vitamin D supplements can increase your chance of heart attack."

Mark J. Bolland, from the University of Auckland, and colleagues looked at the effects of calcium and vitamin D supplements in more than 36,000 postmenopausal women. Specifically, they studied how the combination of these supplements affects heart health.

The study's authors note that women who take calcium with or without vitamin D still have a slightly higher risk of heart problems, especially heart attack.

They conclude that doctors and other healthcare professionals should rethink their use of calcium supplements to maintain good bone health in postmenopausal women.

In Depth

At the end of the 7-year study, the researchers found:

  • Postmenopausal women who took calcium plus vitamin D - but who were not taking calcium before the study started - had an increased risk of heart problems
  • Postmenopausal women who were taking calcium before the study started, and then began taking calcium plus vitamin D, did not increase their risk of heart problems
  • Calcium plus vitamin D increased the risk of heart attack and stroke
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Review Date: 
April 21, 2011
Last Updated:
April 24, 2011