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Calcium & Arrhythmia

By Victoria Weinblatt

Overuse of calcium supplements can cause an abnormal heartbeat, or arrhythmia. People commonly take calcium supplements to prevent osteoporosis, reduce the symptoms of premenstrual syndrome and regulate high blood pressure and hypothyroidism. Dietary sources of calcium include dairy products, tofu, dark leafy green vegetables and Brazil nuts. Calcium supplements may interact with prescription and over-the-counter medications including beta-blockers, antacids, diuretics and cholesterol-lowering medications.


The most abundant mineral in your body is calcium. It performs many functions including building strong bones, maintaining proper function of your muscles and regulating your heartbeat. Your body needs other nutrients including magnesium, phosphorus and vitamin D to absorb and use calcium. Many Americans get less than half of their recommended amount of calcium – 1,000 mg for adults between the ages of 19 and 50, according to the National Institutes of Health.


If you have arrhythmia, your heart beats too fast – called tachycardia – or too slow – called bradycardia. It occurs when the electrical impulses in your body that coordinate your heartbeat work improperly. Causes of arrhythmia include high blood pressure, an overactive thyroid gland, drinking too much caffeine and misuse of dietary supplements or herbal treatments. Some people have a higher risk of developing arrhythmia including people with diabetes, obstructive sleep apnea and an electrolyte imbalance – calcium is an electrolyte. A normal resting heartbeat is between 60 and 100 beats per minute.


Magnesium is a mineral you get from food. It performs important functions in your body including regulating levels of calcium, potassium and vitamin D. All the organs in your body need magnesium to function properly, especially your heart. You may receive a magnesium injection to reduce the chance of a cardiac arrhythmia. Your doctor may prescribe magnesium supplements if you have chronic heart failure. She may want to discuss your calcium intake because calcium and magnesium work together in precise ratios to regulate your heart beat. The Recommended Daily Allowance for magnesium for people 31 and older per day is 420 mg for men and 320 mg for women.


An above-normal calcium level in your blood is called hypercalcemia. Causes of this health condition include an overactive parathyroid gland, cancer and overuse of calcium or vitamin D supplements. Symptoms of hypercalcemia include excessive thirst, loss of appetite and abdominal pain or you may have no symptoms at all. Complications from hypercalcemia include arrhythmia, because calcium affects the regulation of your heartbeat.

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