Your bones, muscles, nails and your mind all need Calcium to stay in shape…
What is calcium and what does it do? Calcium is an important mineral for the
optimal functioning of many body systems, and a building block in our bones
and teeth. Calcium also protects the body from heavy metal toxicity by
competing for absorption against lead. Calcium ions are involved, at the
cellular level, with the folding structure of the RNA and DNA molecules and
the activation of enzymes for the metabolism of fats. Our nerves also use
calcium for the proper transmission of impulses, and our muscles use calcium
to contract and relax.
In addition, calcium lowers cholesterol, by inhibiting plaque formation, and
lowers blood pressure, by ensuring the proper functioning of the arterial
muscles. This mineral is commonly recommended by natural health care
practitioners for osteoporosis, osteoarthritis, cardiovascular disease, PMS,
pregnancy, cancer prevention, nervous disorders, muscle cramps and insomnia.
Deficiency of calcium can occur because of insufficient dietary intake or
because of increased loss caused by negative conditions within the body. The
standard North American diet is high in protein, fat, sugar and phosphorus
from the consumption of meats, refined grains, junk foods, salty foods,
alcohol, coffee and soft drinks. Not only is this diet low in calcium, it
also leads to a disruption of the acid/base balance with a shift towards
acidity, and the body is forced to buffer using calcium. The calcium drawn
out of the bones to be used as a buffer in the bloodstream is then lost in
the urine. This can also be caused by some medications, or when the body is
in a state of inflammation, like with inflammatory conditions such as
rheumatoid arthritis or lupus. If calcium is deficient, toxic lead is
absorbed by the body and deposited in the teeth and bones. The muscles in
the body use calcium for contraction and deficiency can result in painful
muscle spasms. Similarly, the heart uses calcium in its contractions, so
deficiency can lead to arrhythmias. Deficiency of calcium also causes bone
and joint diseases such as osteomalacia, osteoporosis and osteo-arthritis.
It also leads to poor growth and poor bone density in children (Rickets).
TYPES OF CALCIUM
There are different ways that calcium can be delivered to the body. Many
products that contain calcium have less absorbable forms, such as calcium
carbonate. Chelated or citrated calcium supplements are easier for the body
to use and can be taken with or without food. Chelated simply means that
calcium is bonded to a protein molecule, for example aspartate or glycinate,
and citrated means that calcium is bonded to a citrate molecule. Both
processes enhance calcium's absorption in the intestinal tract. At the same
time the greater size of the resulting molecules decreases the amount of
calcium per dose unit when compared with simple calcium carbonate. The types
of calcium commonly found for supplementation are as follows:
Calcium carbonate is not the best calcium source because it must be taken
with food for absorption, and its basic nature may interfere with proper
digestion, which requires acidity from stomach acid. Additionally, up to 40%
of people over the age of sixty have chronic stomach inflammation that
prevents the breakdown of calcium carbonate.
Coral calcium is a naturally occurring calcium found in complex with
magnesium oxide in a 4:1 ratio (calcium:magnesium) as well as many other
minerals. Two types of coral calcium exist, fossilized and marine.
Fossilized coral is farmed after it floats to the top of the ocean while
marine grade is live coral that is vacuumed from the ocean floor. There is a
debate between the makers of both types as to which is better with no clear
winner emerging. One must consider the ecological effect of both processes
when purchasing coral calcium. Ensure that your supplement is tested for
contaminants since the coral is farmed from the ocean. Even after
purification coral calcium contains minute amounts of heavy metals and
should not be consumed by pregnant or nursing women.
D1-clacium-phosphate is used in some low-end supplements and should be
avoided. This form of calcium actually inhibits the absorption of other
minerals in a mineral complex and is insoluble. The calcium in antacids,
when taken a therapeutic amount, neutralizes stomach acid. They are not
recommended as a calcium source because without stomach acid, the calcium
cannot be absorbed.
How do I take calcium?
Calcium supplements are best taken in small doses throughout the day because
the body can only absorb 500mg at one time, no matter how large an amount
each dose contains. However, if you are using calcium for its relaxation
properties it is beneficial to take a larger dose before bed, especially
when combined with magnesium.
Lysine is an amino acid that is needed for calcium absorption. It can be
taken in supplemental form or through the use of foods such as cheese, eggs,
fish, lima beans, milk, soy products and brewer's yeast. Calcium absorption
is also increased by combination with magnesium and vitamin D. In general,
the ratio recommended is 2:1, calcium: Magnesium with an associated dose of
Vitamin D (this dose varies widely from 100 – 1000IU).
Calcium and Kidney Stones
It has been found that excessive intake of foods high in oxalic acid
(cashews, almonds, beet greens, spinach, cocoa and soybeans) bind with
calcium present in the body to create calcium-oxalate kidney stones. These
foods also bind calcium in the intestine and prevent its absorption. This
can be prevented by decreasing the above-mentioned foods in the diet while
supplementing with calcium.
Calcium and Pregnancy
Pregnant women should ensure adequate calcium intake so that the body does
not have to pillage its own bones to provide sufficient calcium for the
fetus. Calcium also protects against the development of preeclampsia, a
hypertensive condition in pregnant women. Coral calcium should be avoided
during pregnancy because it may contain trace levels of heavy metals.
Calcium can interfere with the effects of calcium channel blocking heart
medications, tetracycline, thyroid hormone, some anticonvulsants and
steroids. Calcium is depleted by the use of Phenobarbital and diuretics.
Calcium and iron bind together and prevent the absorption of both minerals
therefore iron and calcium supplements should be taken different times.
Calcium also competes for absorption with zinc, phosphorus and magnesium.
Balance your supplemental calcium intake with 50mg of zinc daily.
Insufficient vitamin D intake also hinders calcium absorption and should be
supplemented in the elderly and by those who live in the northern latitudes.
· Dairy products, salmon (with bones), sardines, seafood, dark green
leafy vegetables, almonds, blackstrap molasses, brewer’s yeast, carob, dulse,
figs, kelp, oats, sesame seeds, soybeans, tofu.
Calcium – QUICK FACTS
· Bone and joint demineralization, heart palpitations, muscle weakness or
cramps, insomnia, hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, brittle nails, tooth
decay, cognitive impairment, depression.
· 1000-1500mg elemental calcium daily in divided doses of 500mg. Do not
exceed 2500mg daily. (Clinical doses may be higher as recommended by your
WORKS WELL WITH
· Lysine, magnesium, vitamin D.
· Calcium can interfere with the effects of calcium channel blocking heart
medications, tetracycline, thyroid hormone, some anticonvulsants and
· Calcium is depleted by the use of Phenobarbital and diuretics.
· Avoid eating foods high in oxalic acid while supplementing with calcium.