Women and Calcium: A Love-Hate Relationship at the Center of the Heart (Grines CL and Skelding KA)
Women are postulated more prone to the development of osteoporosis than men and are often prescribed calcium supplements starting well before menopause. An editorial comment published recently in JACC: Cardiovascular Interventions deals with the very strong correlation among osteoporosis, vascular calcification, and cardiovascular events, and their complex causal mechanisms.
There is increasing evidence that diet, dietary supplements, and prescription medications may contribute to vascular calcification. These include high dietary calcium, Vitamin D deficiency, food preservatives, colas, low magnesium and low Vitamin K intake, and use of Vitamin K antagonists such as warfarin. Women have been told for decades to avoid the sun to reduce the risk of skin aging and cancer, and in northern states with limited sunshine there is an epidemic of Vitamin D deficiency. Unfortunately, recommendations for warfarin for atrial fibrillation and high-dose calcium supplements in the setting of vitamin D deficiency predispose women to vascular and valvular calcification, independent of their risk for atherosclerosis.
The authors suggest that a change in diet and vitamins is an easy place to start, e.g., a diet high in magnesium and Vitamin K may offer additional benefits. They also point out that additional studies to determine prevention and treatment of cardiovascular calcification in women are desperately needed.
Cindy L. Grines, Kimberly A. Skelding. Women and Calcium: A Love-Hate Relationship at the Center of the Heart. JACC: Cardiovascular Interventions Sep 2016, 9 (18) 1902-1904; DOI: 10.1016/j.jcin.2016.08.008