Is Your Calcium Supplement Killing You?

author avatar Dr. Eric Berg 04/10/2024

Calcium carbonate, a component in many multivitamins and standalone calcium pills, may not be as beneficial to your health as advertised.

Learn about calcium carbonate supplements, their effects, and what you should do to for calcium intake instead.

The Hidden Dangers of Calcium Carbonate Supplements

Most people think calcium carbonate supplements are a reliable way to bolster bone health. However, recent studies suggest that this method might not be as advantageous as once thought.

Understanding Calcium Carbonate

Calcium carbonate is often found in over-the-counter multivitamins and standalone calcium pills.

Research from The National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) suggests that high levels of this compound could pose risks to cardiovascular health.

The Connection Between Calcium Carbonate and Cardiovascular Health

A study published by JAMA Network highlights an increased risk of artery calcification in individuals taking these supplements.

This can lead to an increased risk of heart attacks, so it is important to be aware of what calcium supplement you are consuming.

The Role of Stomach Acid pH in Calcium Absorption

Stomach acid pH levels heavily influence calcium absorption. But why does this matter? Well, if your stomach acid's pH isn't balanced, it could lead to issues with calcium absorption.

Aging and Stomach Acid pH

As we age, our bodies produce less stomach acid. This change can raise the stomach's acidity, making it more challenging for your body to absorb crucial nutrients like calcium.

Lower acidity means a higher pH level - not ideal for efficient calcium uptake. This effect explains why many older adults need more help getting enough dietary calcium.

Stress, Cortisol, and Alkaline pH Levels

Frequent stress affects us all differently; however, one surprising impact is on our cortisol levels, which indirectly influence our stomach’s PH balance.

When released in large amounts, cortisol, known as the 'stress hormone,' causes an increase in alkalinity within the gut. Higher alkalinity (lower acidity) equates to poor nutrient breakdown, including essential minerals such as calcium.

Unabsorbed Calcium and Its Potential Health Risks

Excess calcium can have detrimental effects on health. Let's look at some risks associated with unabsorbed calcium.

The Link Between Unabsorbed Calcium and Arthritis

If your body fails to take in all the calcium you have consumed, this additional amount may wind up somewhere it shouldn't be. One such place is your joints. Over time, an accumulation of unabsorbed calcium in the joints can cause arthritis.

This buildup might make your joints feel stiff and sore and limit their range of motion. So, while adding more milk or cheese to your diet seems like a good idea for solid bones, remember that moderation is vital.

Unabsorbed Calcium and Kidney Stones

Kidneys are another area where unneeded calcium tends to gather; these deposits form kidney stones. If you've ever known someone who has had one, they'll tell you how painful passing them can be.

To prevent kidney stones from forming due to excessive dietary intake or supplementation of this mineral, drink plenty of water daily; include more vegetables in meals, which help reduce stone formation chances by diluting urine concentration.

The Impact of Vitamin Imbalances on Calcium Absorption

Imbalances in vitamins D and F can drastically affect calcium absorption, leading to a condition known as calcification. This occurs when excess calcium accumulates in your body tissues, blood vessels, or organs.

Excess Vitamin D and Calcium Imbalances

Taking too many vitamin D supplements might seem reasonable for bone health. But you could be in trouble without enough vitamin F (essential fatty acids). An imbalance between these two can disrupt the way your body uses calcium.

A study found that people with high levels of vitamin D but low levels of vitamin F had higher rates of vascular calcification. So it's not just about getting more sunshine or popping extra pills - balance is essential.

Liver and Gallbladder Problems and Vitamin Absorption

Your liver is vital in processing fat-soluble vitamins such as A, E, K—and yes—D. Any issues with this critical organ may lead to difficulty absorbing these essential nutrients.

Gallbladder issues often accompany liver problems, so they should not be overlooked. The gallbladder stores bile produced by the liver, which helps digest fats – crucial for the absorption of our friend: vitamin D.

Plant-Based Calcium Sources as a Safer Alternative

Regarding bone health, you might think supplements are the easy answer. But supplements might not be the best choice. Instead, consider plant-based calcium sources.

The Superiority of Plant-Based Calcium

Our bodies are more adept at deriving nutrients from food than supplements. It knows how to get nutrients from food better than pills.

Nature offers us plenty of plant foods rich in bioavailable calcium that our bodies can easily absorb and use for solid bones and teeth. So why settle for less?

Recommended Plant-Based Calcium Sources

You don't need a cow to get your daily dose of calcium. Foods like spinach, almonds, and nuts offer high amounts.

In addition, sea kelp and fermented milk products also provide significant quantities of this essential mineral. Start considering these options if you want real benefits without the potential risks associated with synthetic supplements.

Food with calcium. A variety of foods rich in calcium.

Magnesium and Calcium

Magnesium and calcium are essential minerals that work together in various bodily functions, including maintaining healthy bones and muscles. The balance between these two minerals is crucial, as an excess of one can affect the absorption of the other.

When considering the best types of magnesium supplements, selecting those that complement calcium intake is essential.

Magnesium citrate, magnesium glycinate, and magnesium malate are often recommended as they provide optimal absorption and help maintain the delicate magnesium-calcium balance in the body.

Maintaining the proper ratio of magnesium to calcium is vital for overall health. These minerals support bone health and play roles in muscle function, nerve signaling, and heart health.

Ensuring an adequate intake of both magnesium and calcium through diet or supplements, as appropriate, is critical to maintaining this balance and promoting overall well-being.


Calcium carbonate supplements, often touted for bone health, pose risks to cardiovascular health and absorption problems.

Excessive intake can lead to issues like arthritis and kidney stones. Opting for plant-based calcium sources and maintaining a balance between calcium and magnesium intake is crucial.

Prioritizing natural sources and adequate magnesium intake supports overall health more effectively than calcium carbonate supplements alone.

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