POSTED: Tuesday, May 29, 2012 - 10:00am
UPDATED: Tuesday, May 29, 2012 - 10:04am
NBC NATIONAL NEWS — Doctors have been telling patients to take calcium supplements for years. According to market research, they're the second most popular supplement in America.
According to a study published in the online British Medical Journal – Heart, calcium supplements can do plenty of harm, like cause a heart attack.
Research shows people who take calcium supplements regularly are almost 90 percent more likely to have a heart attack than those who don't take calcium supplements.
Cardiologist Dr. Erin O'Malley says she is shocked by the study, which involved 24,000 people between the ages of 35 and 64.
"I really was surprised to see that calcium, which we've considered to be such a good thing, to cause that much of an increase in heart attacks," said O’Malley.
The study also finds even getting calcium from food won't help your heart, but points out eating food rich in calcium will improve overall health.
"It shows us that once again, a balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle always seem to be the best option as opposed to taking a pill."
The study concludes calcium supplements are not safe or effective and urges they be taken with caution. Dr. O'Malley stopped short of saying don't take them at all, but says this research sends up a red flag.
"The first thing is to make sure it's necessary, and don't put yourself at unnecessary risk if you're not going to get any benefit."