When it comes to calcium and heart health, calcium is a major player.
Calcium is one of the Swiss army knives of our body’s chemistry. In addition to its contribution to our bones, teeth, and nails, calcium is essential to the chemistry that makes our muscles contract and release, including the muscles in the heart. You need calcium to conduct nerve impulses, create blood clots when you’re injured, and help your cells grow normally.
At the same time, however, calcium’s pervasive presence throughout the body, and its role in healing, can also lead to problems.
I call this the calcium paradox.
Damaged tissues in the body can calcify—becoming reinforced with excess calcium—until they can no longer function efficiently.
The build-up of calcium can occur in arteries, and even in the valves of your heart. In fact, arteriosclerosis happens when calcium builds up in the walls of the arteries, which can eventually lead to heart attack and a risk of stroke.
This vascular calcification is a mortality risk factor, especially for people with diabetes, atherosclerosis, and kidney disease, and currently, researchers are looking for ways to treat these problems with drugs.
Some people with arteriosclerosis are prescribed statins, despite the fact that research shows statins do not help slow calcification, and long-term, high-dose statins can even accelerate calcification, according to research published in 2015.
Is The Calcium in Your Blood Too High?
High blood calcium is common, found in millions of Americans every year. Some people have high blood calcium because of undiagnosed thyroid conditions. One of the common bad health effects of this is atrial fibrillation, especially common in those with high calcium and thyroid disease.
There’s a negative relationship between high blood calcium and heart health: It has also been shown to be a risk factor for myocardial infarction. Other effects can include renal stones, osteoporosis, constipation, fatigue, and weakness.
For example, in the Kuopio Osteoporosis Study, conducted in Finland, where over ten thousand women were followed for 7 years, the resting heart rate for coronary heart disease in those who were taking calcium was highly elevated compared with women who didn’t take calcium.
Calcifications Can Hurt Your Heart
Calcifications—the accumulation and hardening of calcium salts in living tissue—can form in many places throughout your body, including in the heart valves, as well as in both small and large arteries.
It’s About Balance
We need calcium in the right form. But we don’t want too much. Too little and your body can’t do what it needs to do. Too much and the calcium itself starts petrifying you. That’s the calcium paradox.
So how do we resolve the calcium paradox?
The answer to bone loss with aging was long thought to be more calcium—the more the better. That appears to be incorrect. More recent research has helped us understand that a regulated, moderate amount of calcium is healthier.
Bone calcium loss contributes to calcification elsewhere. The loss of bone calcium can happen when the body’s pH becomes too acidic, which liberates calcium from the bones to buffer it. This leads both to osteopenia and to the calcium ending up where we don’t want it, such as in the artery walls.
D3 helps us absorb calcium, but it’s just an on-switch. Too much D3 on its own has been shown in studies to lead to artery calcification. K2 supplementation has been shown to regulate calcium levels, even when subjects are exposed to high doses of cholesterol and D3, preventing heart valve calcification.
So, one way to modulate calcium is by combining vitamin D3 with vitamin K2, which synergizes and regulates the D3. You may have seen that many supplements now often include both.
Magnesium and phosphorus, are helpful in regulating calcium’s effect on arteries, and potassium (especially in the form of potassium bicarbonate) may be one of the most helpful nutrients, as it helps buffer acid in the body.,
The Paradox of Calcium and Heart Health
In addition to these vitamins and minerals, there are a host of herbs that have been shown to reduce calcium deposits to remedy existing calcification.
The good news is that the paradox of calcium is solvable.
When our bodies get the right amount of calcium, as part of a healthy diet, along with vitamins, minerals, and herbal supplements that help regulate the healthy processing of calcium and bone health, one the most important elements of life can do the work in our bodies as it was meant to do.
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