The Calcium Paradox: Its History and What It Really Means

Updated: October 20, 2022

The Calcium Paradox: Its History and What It Really Means

Lara Pizzorno is the author of “Your Bones: How You Can Prevent Osteoporosis and Have Strong Bones for Life – Naturally” and a member of the American Medical Writers Association with 29 years of experience specializing in bone health.

Recently we asked Lara if she would help us provide a series of short, ongoing videos to help you (our customers and readers) stay up to date on the latest facts and science related to bone health.

In this latest video, Lara discusses the hotly debated topic of the calcium paradox, its history and what it really means. Watch the video below (or read the transcript provided) and let us know what you think in the comments. 🙂

Hello, my name is Lara Pizzorno. I’m the author of “Your Bones” and I’m here today to share with you some information that I hope will help you to have healthier bones.

Last month I taped several videos about some really exciting, very positive new research about calcium in which the Calcium Paradox, so called, is about the fact that calcium actually helps us burn more fat to produce energy, excrete more fat in stools, and also to not be hungry for much longer after we eat. So it helps both with energy production and weight management as well as being very helpful for our bones.
After I taped these videos, I received a question, and I will read it to you.

“I have a question about the Calcium Paradox videos that you recorded. From what I have read before, the Calcium Paradox is that the US is one of the highest consumers of calcium yet has one of the highest rates of osteoporosis. But you’re saying that the Calcium Paradox is that increased calcium intake can help us increase fat burning. Can you please clarify this for me?”

Well, for sure I can. What I referred to as the Calcium Paradox in the videos I did last month was the findings of the latest research. And it is definitely showing that calcium actually helps us burn more fat, excrete more fat and not feel hungry after meals for a longer amount of time. If you missed these videos, I hope you’ll check them out because they summarize some really inspiring good news about the ways in which the calcium that we have to be consuming anyway to have healthy bones can help us to have more energy and to maintain a healthy weight.

So what I and the latest research papers being published in the peer-reviewed medical literature are referring to as the Calcium Paradox are these recently revealed facts, that when we consume calcium we burn more fat, we end up eating less throughout the day because of calcium’s fat burning appetite satisfying effects. But what may be confusing is that this label, “the Calcium Paradox”, has been used in the past to refer to other potential actions of calcium. And I’ll explain those to you now.

The Calcium Paradox was first used back in the 1980s and ’90s to refer to a problem that was discovered when surgeons were working out how to do heart transplant surgery.

They learned that if a calcium free solution is used to keep fluid pouring through the heart muscle during the transplant surgery, even for a short time if a calcium free solution is used, and then a solution containing a normal amount of calcium is used, the heart becomes severely damaged. Because what happens is that a massive influx of calcium rushes into the calcium depleted heart muscle cells in the transplant heart and it disrupts the function of the heart and causes major injury.

The other more recent use of the label,

“the Calcium Paradox” relates to the fact that in countries where calcium intake is high, even in places where dairy foods are a major player in the diet like Finland and Sweden and The Netherlands, the population is still at very high risk for osteoporosis.

And back in 2010, a paper was published suggesting that taking calcium and taking Vitamin D actually increased our risk for heart attacks and stroke.
This paper got a lot of press. And although it has now been refuted by many papers, the idea that calcium increases risk for heart attack or stroke still persists. And this was also referred to as the Calcium Paradox. So both the effects that it’s a paradox that in countries where calcium intake is high people still get osteoporosis, and also this paper that suggested that calcium and vitamin D or calcium by itself can increase risk for heart attack or stroke also used the label “the Calcium Paradox”.

We now know that this Calcium Paradox is not a paradox at all.

It is simply based upon ignorance of the way in which calcium is utilized in the body. Calcium’s actions are not at all paradoxical. It is a team player. Calcium cannot do the many essential jobs that it does to keep virtually every cell in our bodies, not just our bones, functioning healthfully, unless calcium has the help of two team players, two vitamins: vitamin D and vitamin K2. We absorb calcium actively with the help of vitamin D. When we don’t have enough vitamin D present, we absorb less than 15% of the calcium either from food or supplements. But vitamin D only helps us absorb calcium. That’s only half the story. Vitamin D does nothing to regulate where the calcium we absorb from our intestine goes once it gets inside the bloodstream. And for that we have to have vitamin K and specifically vitamin K2.

Vitamin K2‘s job is to activate the proteins that escort calcium into our bones and keep it out of soft tissues like our blood vessels and heart. The vitamin K2 activated protein that puts calcium into our bones is called osteocalcin.

And the vitamin K2 activated protein that keeps calcium out of our blood vessels is called matrix Gla protein.

So you need both vitamin D to help you absorb calcium and you also have to have enough vitamin K2 around to make sure that that calcium you’ve absorbed goes into your bones where you want it and is kept out of your arteries where you don’t want it. If you just take supplements that contain only calcium all by itself or even contain calcium and vitamin D, the end result, when you don’t have K2 around, is that you are going to lose bone, promoting the development of osteoporosis, and calcium is going to be deposited in your blood vessels, causing them to harden or calcify. And this will greatly increase your risk for a heart attack or stroke. But it’s not a paradox.

I have written about all this in detail, both in review articles that were published in the medical journal, Longevity Medicine Review, which is accessible online, and in “Your Bones.” And about a year after “Your Bones” was published, Kate Rheaume-Bleue, a physician, devoted an entire book to just discussing the fact that the healthful use of calcium requires both vitamin D and vitamin K2. Her excellent book on this topic is called “Vitamin K2 and the Calcium Paradox.” And in it she cites my longevity medicine review articles on this issue.

So the term “Calcium Paradox” has been used to call attention to the fact that in Finland, which is where most calcium is consumed per capita, which simply means per head of person, so per person, osteoporosis incidence is very high. And this is due, in large part, because most of the population is deficient in both vitamin D and vitamin K2. The same unfortunately can be said of both the US of A and Canada and The European Union.

It is not just calcium that we need to look at.

And this is why AlgaeCal gives not just calcium, but provides both the vitamin D you need to absorb it effectively and the vitamin K2 you need to keep it into your bones and keep it out of your arteries.

So back to the latest use of the term “the Calcium Paradox” which I discussed in my February videos. This Calcium Paradox refers to a very happy fact that has now clearly been shown in a number of research studies published in the peer-reviewed medical literature. Calcium helps us burn more fat, excrete more fat, and not feel hungry for longer. If you’d like to know more about why, please just check out my videos summarizing the research on this.

I’d like to leave you with one last word about the misinformation that we unfortunately see all too often posted on the Internet. What can you do to ensure that any medical information that you read is real and trustworthy and not just some urban myth or some hoax that keeps being posted on the Internet until people think it’s true? Well, one thing you can do is to always look for references citing the peer-reviewed medical literature that you can check on PubMed. If PubMed research citations are not provided for what is being said, then don’t trust it. You can count on me to always provide references for anything that I say, both so those wishing to read the full medical journal articles on these topics can easily find them, and also so people who come to me for information can safely rely upon me for accurate science-based facts and not fiction. I hope this has been helpful to you and that you’ll tune in next time. Thanks.


Hess ML, Manson NH. Molecular oxygen: friend and foe. The role of the oxygen free radical system in the calcium paradox, the oxygen paradox and ischemia/reperfusion injury. J Mol Cell Cardiol. 1984 Nov;16(11):969-85. PMID: 6394765

Bolland MJ, Avenell A, Baron JA, et al. Effect of calcium supplements on risk of myocardial infarction and cardiovascular events: meta-analysis. BMJ. 2010 Jul 29;341:c3691. doi: 10.1136/bmj.c3691. PMID: 20671013

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  1. sara pugh

    June 11, 2017 , 4:26 pm

    Thank you ! Very well explained on the relationship between K2, Ca2 and D.

  2. Monica

    June 12, 2017 , 8:12 am

    Thanks for taking the time to comment, Sara! Definitely agree – Lara does a great job here :).
    – Monica

  3. Pete

    April 19, 2018 , 11:50 am

    One recent, double-blind, randomized clinical trial investigated the effects of supplemental MK-7, MenaQ7 (NattoPharma ASA, Hovik, Norway), within a 3-year period for a group of 244 postmenopausal Dutch women.54 The researchers found that a daily dose of 180 mcg was enough to improve bone mineral density, bone strength, and cardiovascular health. They also showed that achieving a clinically relevant improvement required at least 2 years of supplementation.

    A study pending publication of 244 postmenopausal women who took supplements with 180 mcg of vitamin K2, as MK-7, for 3 years daily actually showed a significant improvement in cardiovascular health as measured by ultrasound and pulse-wave velocity, which are recognized as standard measurements for cardiovascular health.


  4. Jenna AlgaeCal

    April 25, 2018 , 11:45 am

    Thanks for sharing, Pete!

    It sounds like you might be interested in the following posts where Lara digs deeper into vitamin K2…
    Why Vitamin K2 (MK7) Works The Best For The Majority of People
    The Two Forms of Vitamin K2 and How to Get Them

    – Jenna @ AlgaeCal

  5. Dr Beena Yadav

    September 9, 2023 , 8:46 am

    Thanks for making me understand how calcium is absorbed into the bones with the help of vit k2.

  6. Yoori AlgaeCal

    September 11, 2023 , 9:51 pm

    It’s always our pleasure, Dr. Beena! We are glad to hear that the article was helpful for you :).

    – Yoori

  7. Dr Beena Yadav

    September 9, 2023 , 8:47 am

    Thanks for making me understand.

  8. Yoori AlgaeCal

    September 11, 2023 , 9:52 pm

    It’s always our pleasure, Dr. Beena! We are glad to hear that the article was helpful for you :).

    – Yoori

This article features advice from our industry experts to give you the best possible info through cutting-edge research.

Lara Pizzorno
MDiv, MA, LMT - Best-selling author of Healthy Bones Healthy You! and Your Bones; Editor of Longevity Medicine Review, and Senior Medical Editor for Integrative Medicine Advisors.,
Dr. Liz Lipski
PhD, CNS, FACN, IFMP, BCHN, LDN - Professor and Director of Academic Development, Nutrition programs in Clinical Nutrition at Maryland University of Integrative Health.,
Dr. Loren Fishman
MD, B.Phil.,(oxon.) - Medical Director of Manhattan Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation and Founder of the Yoga Injury Prevention Website.,
Prof. Didier Hans
PHD, MBA - Head of Research & Development Center of Bone Diseases, Lausanne University Hospital CHUV, Switzerland,