Calcium supplements

I have just been advised by a dietician that Calcium Supplements SHOULD NOT be taken by people with AF. This was a bit of a shock as I have been taking both Calcium and Magnesium supplements, albeit without bothering to inform or consult either my GP or cardiologist - my bad.

Anyway, I am just wondering if others have also been warned against Calcium supplements.

Many thanks


25 Replies

  • Before I start ANY supplement I always do a heck of a lot of research about it. Magnesium was my first golden find and it has been of GREAT benefit to me but I was wary as I assumed that just as some supplements can be good for you others may not be so great with AF - calcium is one I figured early on was one to avoid with heart related problems as it can tend towards calcification and hardening of arteries and the heart muscle.

    Magnesium in the right amounts in the body can fight the effects of calcium however if calcium gets a foot hold the reverse can be true and it can take over from magnesium, causing some real problems for those of us with heart issues.

    Generally you want less more not calcium when dealing with AF and taking magnesium supplements helps to keep your normal levels of calcium under control.

    There are a lot of good info websites out there which can help you decide which supplements you should and shouldn't take e.g. I know potassium is good overall BUT it is contraindicated for one of my meds so I don't touch it.

    Research, research, research is the best thing yo can do - as well as chatting to your health professionals of course.

    Article re: calcium

  • Thanks Dave

  • Interesting as I was prescribed calcium for bone loss whilst I had AF.

    There is also a theory that calcification of arteries and tissue is caused by calcium leaching from bones and not diet.

  • Thank you bigleg - very informative.

    I must say that early on in my AF journey, which is just 3 months old, I was stunned to realise that:

    A. The medicine I had taken for 3 or 4 years to keep my BP down contains a diuretic

    B. Diuretics can reduce the body's magnesium levels

    C. Lack of magnesium can contribute to arrhythmia

    Needless to say, I have now changed my antihypertensive !

    Best regards


  • Not a normal thing I would say. Since many anti-arrhythmic drugs are calcium channel blockers it make sense not to add calcium! As I have said many times here one should not take any supplements without first discussing with your EP or cardiologist.


  • Good advice Bob - I shall not make this mistake again.

    Best regards


  • uh oh ... I don't take calcium supplements but I do eat a lot of calcium rich foods such as almonds, yogurt, broccoli, arugula, oatmeal, white beans, and tofu ... all known to be high in calcium. I thought my diet was good - but maybe I've mucked up. Thanks for this post.

  • You will be fine with food rich in calcium, it is the supplements which are being queried. Continue with a good, balanced diet.

  • Oh dear. I have osteoporosis and have to take 1000mg calcium a day and alendronic acid once a week. My G.P. and my E.P. are fully aware of this and don't see a problem. I am on flecanide. I can't remember if this is a calcium or sodium channel blocker.

    We're you given an explanation by the dietician ? X

  • Hi dedeottie

    No, there wasn't any further explanation given, just a comment that "it's well known but poorly publicised that calcium supplementation should be avoided by those with arrhythmia".

    The comment was made during a brief 10 minute telephone consultation provided by BUPA here in Australia. No real chance to explore in depth as I had a few other dietary issues to cover - thus the follow up question here.

    All the best


  • Thanks and good luck.

  • The risk from advancing osteoporosis probably outweigh the small risk of calcium, I am also taking 1000mg of calcium daily for the same reason. I take the one with D vitamins. I am going to ensure it is balanced by the magnesium intake through foods. My EP said it is fine as does my GP.

  • Thanks for that it is very helpful.x

  • I was told by my naturopath that calcium was not recommended because its used by the muscles cells to contract them, where magnesium is used to relax them. Excess calcium could lead to muscle cramps and as a heart attack is effectively a muscle cramp I guess it might help to avoid too much. By contrast she told me the heart uses 21 times more magnesium than any other part of the body, and when I supplemented with magnesium chloride, via tablets and oil, I certainly noticed a decrease in the old engine knocking feeling inside my chest.

  • Unfortunately not everyone can take magnesium, I for one as it is contraindicated for my neuromuscular condition which gives me muscle cramps and twitches, although it may be the meds I take.

    Our bodies' are an interconnected, complex system that to think about it in a mechanistic model is not always appropriate.

    The one thing I can tolerate is a salt bath which is rich in magnesium and keeps the cramps at bay.

  • Blow.... I've just purchased another supply of multi mineral supplements which contain calcium, but thanks for the info Ric, useful to know. Next purchase will be just magnesium


  • I suggest that for your prescription meds you use just one pharmacy not just a random one.

    In addition to asking your EP / GP you should also ask the pharmacist as they have a lot more knowledge of interactions of different medicines and supplements and may be more up to date. In my case a few months ago the pharmacist asked me to book an appointment for a medicine review. That was 20 mins VERY WELL SPENT. Not only did I get some brilliant advice but she said that I needed to get my blood tests redone and that threw up that my liver function (Alt gamma in particular) was high and well out of range. GP stopped the simvastatin and also without that blood test the EP would have started me on Amiodarone for a month before my ablation and three months afterwards and that would have raised levels even higher.

    The pharmacist told me that with some drugs you need to be tested after 1 month, some after 3, some after 6 and certainly for everyone taking multiple drugs for AF at least an annual test. I am not sure about all the NOACS but she did say that for Apixaban (that I was on for 3.5 months) you should have blood test but I can't remember of that was after 3 or after 6 months (I had stopped Apixaban by the date of the review).

  • I think that one of the problems that can occur generally (and specifically with AF) is that as I understand it mostly the Consultant EP or cardiac consultant decide on the drugs and then the GP prescribes follow-ons and you may also have some others prescribed by the DGP. Then the GP thinks that the hospital is doing the follow up blood tests and the consultant thinks that the GP is doing them and it falls in-between the cracks. In addition very often the consultant is out of the local health trust area and so the doctor cannot see the medical information on their computer that relates to the consultant.

  • One needs to have one's own finger on the pulse and push sometimes for what should be routine.

  • In many cases I don't think that it is a question of having to push but just asking. With more drugs and more data it becomes increasingly complex. However thank goodness for sites like this and the internet which mean that we can empower ourselves to be looking into things, sharing and monitoring our medical travels!!! I read that £10bn was spent in the noughties (2000 to 2010) on a computer system for the NHS that was scrapped because it didn't work and was going to cost bucket loads more. Shame that they didn't look at and develop individual areas like drug monitoring. It would have been very beneficial.

  • I also take calcium supplement as I have osteoporosis. I read an article some time ago relating to calcium and AF which concerned me as I`ve been prescribed it for 5 years. I emailed Vickie at AF who forwarded my concerns to the medics on the Board. Their feedback was that there is no definite YES or NO that its harmful. So it seems some say it is and some say it isn`t. This seems to be the outcome for many questions I have asked over the years. So I continue to take my calcium - don`t think this will help you at all but thats the way I dealt with it. By the way the Board of medics also say there is a "connection" between osteoporosis and AF. But we can go on and on with this I think Hey-ho


  • This is a new one to me. All of my doctors know I take a calcium supplement because of osteoporosis but no one, even cardio specialist has said anything about the counterindication with afib.

  • I have been taking tablets for Vitamin D deficiency for some time that also include calcium. University College London have started an experimental programme in which on of their pharmacologists reviews patients medication at the doctors surgery.

    I recently attended one of these sessions and was told to stop taking the tablets, but with no reason given. Presumably this was because of the contraindication with AF.

  • You can ask for a review at your local pharmacist. Mine offered me one and it was 20 mins very well spent. Also picked up blood check issues (in a separate post).

  • I take calcium as I am on high dose steroids for giant cell arteritis, which has caused me to have osteopenia. I also have benign fasciculation which causes muscle twitches and cramp, so magnesium is an issue too! I am still not sure whether the SVT is as a result of the GCA, the steroid or just bad luck, as the cardiologist is saw on Friday seemed in too much of a hurry to listen to my questions. I have been referred for possible ablation, so I am hoping that the next person I see will be able to answer my concerns. In the meantime I will continue to use the Internet and forums like this!

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