Calcium intake: good for the bones but bad for the heart? An analysis of clinical studies

Arch Endocrinol Metab. 2016 Jun;60(3):252-63. doi: 10.1590/2359-3997000000173.


The proper dietary calcium intake and calcium supplementation, when indicated, are important factors in the acquisition of peak bone mass during youth and in the prevention of fractures in old age. In addition to its deposition in bone, calcium confers an increase in its resistance and exhibits important activities in different enzymatic pathways in the body (e.g., neural, hormonal, muscle-related and blood clotting pathways). Thus, calcium supplementation can directly or indirectly affect important functions in the body, such as the control of blood pressure, plasma glucose, body weight, lipid profile and endothelial function. Since one publication reported increased cardiovascular risk due to calcium supplementation, many researchers have studied whether this risk actually exists; the results are conflicting, and the involved mechanisms are uncertain. However, studies that have evaluated the influence of the consumption of foods rich in calcium have reported no increase in the cardiovascular risk, which suggests that nutritional intake should be prioritized as a method for supplementation and that the use of calcium supplements should be reserved for patients who truly need supplementation and are unable to achieve the recommended daily nutritional intake of calcium.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Bone Density / drug effects
  • Bone Density Conservation Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Bone Density Conservation Agents / adverse effects
  • Bone and Bones / drug effects*
  • Calcium / therapeutic use
  • Calcium, Dietary / administration & dosage*
  • Calcium, Dietary / adverse effects
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / chemically induced*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / mortality
  • Dietary Supplements* / adverse effects
  • Fractures, Bone / prevention & control
  • Humans
  • Meta-Analysis as Topic
  • Osteoporosis / prevention & control*
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Recommended Dietary Allowances
  • Risk Factors
  • Vitamin D / therapeutic use


  • Bone Density Conservation Agents
  • Calcium, Dietary
  • Vitamin D
  • Calcium