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Forums: Main Kickstart Forum: Calcium Supplement
Created on: 08/26/13 10:05 AM Views: 3561 Replies: 11
Calcium Supplement
Posted Monday, August 26, 2013 at 10:05 AM

Hi, I've been drinking Almond Breeze at least in part for calcium....today, I read this on a Mayo Clinic site: It's not definitive, but there may be a link between calcium supplements and heart disease. It's thought that the calcium in supplements could make its way into fatty plaques in your arteries — a condition called atherosclerosis — causing those plaques to harden and increasing your risk of heart attack. More research is needed before doctors know the effect calcium supplements may have on heart attack risk.

Any thoughts/information?

RE: Calcium Supplement
Posted Monday, August 26, 2013 at 10:38 AM

when that study was reported in the New York Times in 2012 I stopped taking calcium supplements. my last blood work in May of this year my calcium levels were fine.

Edited 08/26/13 10:39 AM
RE: Calcium Supplement
Posted Monday, August 26, 2013 at 11:17 AM

Not sure what link you're making between a food that contains calcium and calcium supplements. They are two very different things.

Most of the time, calcium supplements are 'recommended' in order to make bones stronger and avoid osteoporosis. However, that may not be at all useful - some evidence is coming to light indicating that calcium supplements help little if at all. Part of the problem is that a calcium supplement alone doesn't contain the other parts of the puzzle that make the calcium available to the body - all the things that DO exist when calcium is contained in a food product (like almonds and whatever else - there are many things that contain calcium).


RE: Calcium Supplement
Posted Monday, August 26, 2013 at 11:23 AM

I am a bit confused about this calcium issue. For the reasons cited by christl, my doctor told me to stop calcium supplements and to get calcium only from food sources, Frequently, foods are supplemented with calcium. Should those foods be avoided because they contain supplementation ?

RE: Calcium Supplement
Posted Monday, August 26, 2013 at 11:52 AM

Almond Breeze notes calcium carbonate as an ingredient separate from almonds, thus it appears to me the beverage is indeed supplemented w/ calcium. I also think it's supplemented b/c one 8 oz serving provides 45% RDA of calcium, p/ the container.

RE: Calcium Supplement
Posted Monday, August 26, 2013 at 1:07 PM

again, there's a difference between adding to a food and taking what is considered a 'supplement' - that's a thing that comes in a bottle or jar and is taken separately from anything else. "fortified" things have extra whatever added - almonds already have calcium and the means to make them bioavailable; fortifying it adds extra to make sure that there's a goodly amount available to absorb (since poor absorption is another issue, apart from having a lack in the diet); adding a supplement means adding an extra pill/powder/liquid that is JUST calcium (or whatever) over and above food, that may or may not be paired with appropriate components to make it bioavailable. For example, someone who is anemic takes an iron supplement - but they also need to remember to take it with vitamin C so that it is bioavailable more readily (some iron supplements are combined with vitamin C). That's something above and outside of whatever is in the foods they eat (whether it's something like molasses that contains iron to start with or something like cereals that are fortified with iron sometimes).


RE: Calcium Supplement
Posted Monday, October 7, 2013 at 12:24 PM

Would love to have the Kickstart team ask Dr. Barnard about this subject. To me fortification is no different than a supplement. So I avoid the commercial products that are fortified. I guess until we hear from one of the Plant Based doctors or dietitians on this subject, it comes down to a personal choice. I'm keeping my eyes and ears open for a definitive answer.

RE: Calcium Supplement
Posted Monday, October 7, 2013 at 4:40 PM

I would also appreciate if Susan or other available staff would respond to this issue. Is the characteristic present in calcium supplements that makes it not advisable to take, also present in foods fortified with calcium? If so, should those foods be avoided?

RE: Calcium Supplement
Posted Tuesday, November 5, 2013 at 3:48 PM

Did you get anywhere with this?

I would really like a steer on this issue too. Until now I have always avoided fortified foods in favour of eating 'real sources', however there are several examples in the kickstart programme of fortified items being specified e.g. fortified milks.

What is the best way forward? Fortified products OR not? Supplements OR not?


RE: Calcium Supplement
Posted Wednesday, November 6, 2013 at 8:38 PM

I would also appreciate some guidance here. I have stopped calcium supplements. It seems that foods such as almond milk, that contain added calcium, pose the same problem as calcium supplements.

Is the current "don't take calcium supplements" advice incorrect? If it is correct, wouldn't it be fair to conclude that any foods that contain calcium supplementation should likewise be avoided?

Does that mean that unless we can find commercially made almond milk without added calcium, that we should make our own almond milk?

RE: Calcium Supplement
Posted Saturday, November 9, 2013 at 7:08 AM

There is an association between calcium supplementation and heart disease risk.

A report that appeared in the British Medical Journal concluded that women who took calcium supplements had about a 30% increased risk for a heart attack. Other studies have also linked calcium supplementation to cardiovascular disease in men and women.

While some medical experts dispute these findings, a recommendation issued earlier this year by the US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF)—that postmenopausal women should not take calcium supplements to prevent bone fractures—signals a possible shift in medical consensus.

This recommendation, made by an expert panel that reviewed more than 100 scientific studies, also concluded that there was not enough evidence to prove that calcium supplements prevented bone fractures in healthy premenopausal women and men. In addition, the panel concluded that there was insufficient evidence to support the use of vitamin D-3 to help promote calcium absorption.

For the record, the recommendations do not apply to women or men with osteoporosis or vitamin D deficiency—for whom supplements presumably do offer more benefit than risk.

There does not seem to be any risk associated with calcium intake from whole plant foods. And yes, I think it's better to get your sources from plants as opposed to supplemented beverages (because this is essentially a supplement). But I also suspect that as long as you are not going over the recommended daily amount of calcium from all sources and if you are not "flooding" your system with the beverage all at one time, the risk is minimized. It may even be that when we eat a healthful diet, we don't need as much calcium as is currently recommended (1000+ mg/day).

Interesting this topic would come up. I'm at a conference where T. Colin Campbell gave a lecture that goes into detail about supplementation. If you want to know more, you might want to check out his new book, Whole.

Susan Levin, MS, RD
PCRM Director of Nutrition Education

RE: Calcium Supplement
Posted Sunday, November 10, 2013 at 5:58 PM

Hi Susan

Thank you so much for your response - very informative & interesting.
I have purchased a few cartons of fortified rice or almond milk since starting the plan (i.e. as specified in recipes). My use has been relatively minimal (e.g. as one of many ingredients in batches of soup or in a cake) rather than using them regularly as a drink or similar, so I'm relaxed re continuing to use them in sparing amounts & getting most calcium from whole-food sources.

Many thanks

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