Could calcium and vitamin D tablets increase your risk of stroke and kidney disease

21 March 2016  |  Editor

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Millions of UK adults supplement regularly with calcium and vitamin D in the hope of preventing bone diseases such as osteoporosis, yet recent research has called these supplements into question.

Scientists from the University of Auckland’s Department of Medicine claim there is little evidence to support their usage for preventing fractures and that continued use of these supplements may increase the risk of developing kidney stones and cardiovascular problems.  The supplements have become popular say the researchers, due to their benefits being vastly overplayed by the manufacturers.

The real issue here though is not calcium deficiency or prevention of bone fractures – these headlines distract people from the root of the matter, an issue widely recognised in naturopathic circles: calcium mishandling in an over-acidic body.

It is widely recognised that osteoporosis affects more women than men and the rate of bone turnover increases following menopause.  This is largely due to the lower levels of oestrogen and its bone-protective effects, but also to the accumulation of toxins and subsequent tissue acidity that can occur once menstruation ends.  Calcium is used to buffer this acidity and becomes misplaced, deposited in soft tissues and joints rather than utilised by bones.  Calcification of joints and arteries (arteriosclerosis) occurs in both men and women in the same way.

Rather than supplementing with extra calcium at this point, as recommended by mainstream medical practitioners, a truly beneficial action is to address this acidity and calcium misplacement by using alkalising foods and supplements, and maintaining levels of nutrients needed for correct calcium handling.

Vitamin D plays a key role here, regulating calcium absorption in the intestines.  Vitamin K, magnesium, boron, zinc, vitamin C and proline are other vitally important team members for supporting calcium placement and bone health.

Standard calcium supplements supply unnecessarily high amounts of calcium in a poorly absorbed inorganic form, usually as calcium carbonate – otherwise known as chalk!  Carbonate and oxide forms can irritate the gut, leading to unpleasant side effects.  Specialised calcium supplements on the other hand supply the mineral in citrate form, alongside its team-member co-factors like magnesium and zinc citrate.  These are effectively absorbed and utilised, with the citrate carriers being taken up and used in the Citric Acid Cycle - the energy producing cycle that takes place within each body cell.

Dietary levels of calcium are widely acknowledged to be sufficient; the typical Western diet supplies on average 960mg of calcium per day, exceeding the RDA of 800mg.  Magnesium on the other hand is low: 267mg is the average daily intake as opposed to an RDA of 375mg – optimal daily intake is higher still.

Research linking calcium supplements with kidney stones and hardening of the arteries may unfortunately be true due to supplements being over used, of poor quality and taken in excessive amounts.  Calcium deficiency has never been a problem in the first place so why use such supplements? 

To really address the issue, a holistic naturopathic approach must be taken, incorporating alkalising foods, hydration and judicious use of high quality, balanced mineral formulas.