Compiled by Owen R. Fonorow,   2003


"Should anyone be taking calcium supplements? In my opinion, absolutely not.” - Thomas E. Levy, MD, JD, OPTIMAL NUTRITION FOR OPTIMAL HEALTH, 2001, Pg 132.


Everything we know is wrong…


Calcium carbonate is the mineral form of calcium that is the predominant form in dolomite, a very common and cheap source of calcium used in many supplement preparations today. One of the primary characteristics of calcium carbonate in nature is its tendency to precipitate out of solution back into its hard, rocklike form. Dehydration, whether caused by the failure to drink enough water or by taking medications such as diuretics, can promote this precipitation.  -- Thomas E. Levy, MD JD, OPTIMAL NUTRITION FOR OPTIMAL HEALTH, Pg 128


Calcium  Primer


The human populations that consume the most calcium have the highest mortality rates in the world. The Scandinavian countries, the USA and New Zealand are the dairy consuming countries and mortality rates soar in these countries. In Japan and Portugal where the consumption of calcium from dairy products is the lowest on the planet so are the mortality rates. [International Journal Cardiology, Volume 33, 1991] – Bill Sardi


Overdoses of nonorganically based elements, seen in many mineral preparations must accumulate when they are continually taken, and the result is usually bad in the long run.  There is a lot of calcium in most diets, and even a relatively small amount of calcium supplementation, taken on a regular basis, can result in undesirable, rocklike, nonbiologic deposits of calcium in the tissues. -- Thomas E. Levy, MD JD


Here is the best advice available concerning calcium. 


1.      American women and men consume about 800 milligrams of calcium per day and only require an additional 400-600 milligram of supplemental calcium.

2.      More than 500 milligrams of calcium in a single serving is poorly absorbed.

3.      Consumption of calcium in between meals, as recommended by government health authorities, reduces absorption. Stomach acid levels are low between meals. Acid aids in the absorption of calcium, while calcium carbonate, the most commonly used form of supplemental calcium, is generally well absorbed when taken with meals.  Calcium carbonate tablets are not recommended for adults who do not produce enough stomach acid (about 30 percent of older adults). [Public Health Reports, Volume 104, 1989]

4.      Calcium citrate does not require stomach acid to be absorbed. It may be superior to coral calcium.

5.      The claim that coral calcium is superior to other forms of this mineral is largely based upon better absorption. The percentage of coral calcium available for absorption is published at 39%, and for coral mineral powder at 98%, and for Dr. Barefoot's calcium formula 84-97%. There are no independent studies, so there is no way to verify these figures. But the body maintains a tight control over the absorption of calcium. Too much calcium and the blood circulation would become too alkaline. If 80 to 90 percent of calcium were absorbed, there would be undesirable health consequences, including an electrolyte imbalance which could induce a spasm in heart muscle leading to sudden-death heart attack.

6.      The widespread shortage of magnesium, not calcium, in the western diet is attributed to the high rates of sudden-death heart attack.

7.      Calcium supplements should be balanced with magnesium, (probably in equal ratios). There is a false idea that magnesium interferes with the absorption of calcium. Increasing magnesium intake up to 826 milligrams per day was not found to inhibit calcium absorption at an intake level of 812 milligrams of calcium. [Journal American College Nutrition, Volume 13, 1994]

8.      Some of those 73 trace minerals in coral calcium are heavy metals, which are undesirable. Even trace amounts of lead are not permitted in other calcium supplements.  -- Bill Sardi, Knowledge of Health, Inc. Copyright 2002


Separating Fact from Fiction


There is another side to calcium that advocates don't mention. Calcium can accumulate in heart valves (mitral valve), a condition that strikes 1 in 11 Americans. It can become a concretion in the kidneys and become a stone, a condition that affects 1 in 12 Americans. While some studies indicate increased calcium intake may help reduce the risk of kidney stones, a recent study suggests calcium stone formers should consume water "relatively low in calcium" and calcium-rich meals should be avoided. [Urology International, Volume 67, 2001] Calcium can also pile up in blood vessels. Calcium artery scans are now performed to diagnose arteriosclerosis. Calcifications can block the circulation to the back of the eyes too.  – Bill Sardi


Calcium Toxicity

In nature, precipitation occurs when the water content of the dissolved calcium carbonate begins to evaporate, concentrating the mineral and making it easier to drop out of solution. In the body, similar factors can prompt the undesirable precipitation of poorly dissociated mineral forms out of the blood, including calcium carbonate. – Thomas E. Levy, MD JD


Even a highly dissolvable form of calcium with weak ionic attractions when dissolved, such as calcium chloride or calcium citrate, will eventually saturate the blood and drop out of solution. So even if you calcium (or other mineral) doesn’t come from rock, it can still eventually deposit abnormally in your tissues if you take too much. – Tom Levy


One of the clearest examples of toxic accumulation is seen with most common forms of calcium supplementation. Massive amounts of calcium from such sources will increase bone density only slightly, while significantly increasing unwanted calcium deposition elsewhere in the body. Furthermore, high supplemental calcium may increase the risk of symptomatic kidney stones, while high dietary calcium intake appears to decrease the risk. -- Thomas E. Levy, MD JD, OPTIMAL NUTRITION FOR OPTIMAL HEALTH, Pg 128-132


Too much calcium not only results in calcifications, but calcium overload can produce severe muscle spasms and cramping. Calcium is a muscle constrictor while magnesium is a muscle relaxant. Excessive calcium often produces symptoms of constipation, heart flutters (fibrillation), eyelid twitch, migraines, leg cramps, back aches and monthly cramping in females. – Bill Sardi


Sodium competes with calcium for absorption. American women may require far more calcium than women in Asian cultures. Women with low protein and sodium intake may need as little as 500 milligrams of calcium per day (which is about the amount Japanese women consume). Women with high protein and sodium consumption may need as much as 2000 milligrams of calcium per day. [Principles Bone Biology, 2nd edition, Robert P. Heaney, 2002]


Link From Calcium to Cancer Runs Both Ways…


Horse breeder and researcher Gordon Woods has long suspected the important role of calcium in rapid cell division, which occurs when a tumor is growing out of control -- and when an embryo is developing. "There is an electrifying similarity between rapidly dividing embryo cells and rapidly developing cancer cells," he said.  [*]


Woods' discovery that calcium was key to success in the mule-cloning experiment bolstered his hypothesis that calcium induces rapid cell growth.

While attempting to clone a mule, Woods discovered that bathing the cloned embryo in a common element -- calcium -- was key to a successful pregnancy. Coincidentally, calcium also plays a key role in the development of cancer tumors; its levels in cells are elevated when cancer tumor cells divide uncontrollably.


Calcium and Prostate Cancer


High calcium consumption may not be a good idea for older males who are prone to developing prostate cancer. Consumption of more than 2000 milligrams of calcium per day increased the risk of prostate cancer by about 300 percent. [Cancer Research, Volume 58, 1998]  -- Bill Sardi

Owen Fonorow
Vitamin C Foundation
PO Box 3097, Lisle IL 60532