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One Major Side Effect of Not Eating Enough Calcium, New Study Says

An observational study suggests low intake of the mineral may be associated with heart issues.
MEDICALLY REVIEWED Clipboard BY Cedrina Calder, MD, MSPH

When you think of staving off heart disease, some preventive measures that likely come to mind right away include limiting your consumption of red meat, avoiding cigarettes, and regularly exercising. But, what about calcium intake? New research suggests the mineral may play a key role in preventing heart complications later down the road, specifically in women.

According to a new study published in the BMJ, women between the ages of 50 and 80 who have osteoporosis, also known as brittle bone disease, have a 79% higher risk of developing heart disease.

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Many factors are believed to contribute to the development of osteoporosis, which is characterized as the thinning and weakening of bones. One major factor is a lifelong lack of calcium consumption, as it contributes to diminished bone density and heightens the risk of fractures.

However, the reduction of estrogen levels is also a strong risk factor for developing osteoporosis, which is why women who are at the age of menopause are more likely to develop it. Previous research has indicated that people with osteoporosis also often have atherosclerosis, aka the hardening and narrowing of the arteries due to plaque buildup. In short, the research suggests the conditions could be linked.

In addition, the authors of this study point out that the risk of a woman dying from heart disease is greater than a man's risk at 21% and 15%, respectively. However, it's important to note that this is an observational study, which just means that the authors are unable to establish a direct cause—only a correlation.

Still, this study may serve as a great reminder to make sure you consuming enough calcium on a regular basis, and plenty of plant-based foods offer calcium including chia seeds, kale, and tofu.

For more, be sure to read 50 Foods That Can Cause Heart Disease.

Cheyenne Buckingham
Cheyenne Buckingham is the news editor of <Eat This, Not That!, specializing in food and drink coverage, and breaking down the science behind the latest health studies and information. Read more
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