Few people in industrialized societies have true calcium deficiencies,regardless of what the advertisements tell us. The bigger problem is that most people are unable to utilize the calcium they already have in their bodies. Poor calcium metabolism, rather than deficiency, is almost at epidemic proportions. The end result is that not enough calcium gets into the cells, including the bones, muscles and other tissues, with the remaining excess calcium depositing in the joints, tendons, ligaments or even the kidneys as stones. Plaque that clogs the arteries can also contain calcium.
In order for your body to properly metabolize calcium, and more effectively absorb calcium from food, you must have sufficient vitamin D. This nutrient is free and plentiful, yet most people don’t have enough. That’s because it comes from the sun and the public is told that the sun is dangerous. This issue is so important that it’s discussed s in this article. Just remember that without sufficient vitamin D, calcium cannot be properly regulated, and that most problems of insufficient calcium are really due to low levels of vitaminD.
Another important issue regarding calcium is to consume enough
calcium-rich foods; this is easily done without supplementation through good dietary practices. And it does not necessarily mean eating a lot of dairy foods.
Consider the high amounts of calcium in the following single servings of non-dairy foods:
• Salmon: 225 mg
• Sardines: 115 mg
• Almonds: 100 mg
• Seaweed: 140 mg
• Rainbow trout: 100 mg
• Spinach: 135 mg
• Green beans: 100 mg
• Collards: 125 mg
Two other important issues regarding calcium are absorption (the most important part is also having sufficient vitamin D), and getting the calcium into the bones and muscles once it’s absorbed.
Absorption is the first step to utilizing calcium in the body. In general, smaller amounts are better absorbed than larger amounts, whether from food or supplements. If a small amount of calcium is present in the intestine, 70 percent may be absorbed, for example, while a larger amount of calcium may have only a 30 percent absorption rate. If you’re taking calcium supplements, it may be best to take a lower dose several times a day rather than a large dose once daily.
Even though vegetables contain smaller amounts of calcium, larger percentages are absorbed compared to milk. So in some situations, a serving of broccoli may result in more calcium getting into the body than a serving of milk.
The stomach’s natural hydrochloric acid is also very important in making calcium more absorbable. Neutralizing stomach acid has a negative effect on calcium absorption, and a serious impact on digestion and absorption of all nutrients. Once absorbed, calcium is utilized best when the body is in a slightly acidic state. Otherwise, calcium that is absorbed may be more easily deposited in joints, muscles or arteries rather than inside the cells where it’s needed. The cells that are calcium-starved cause symptoms such as muscle tightness and irritability, identical to those of calcium deficiency. Morning stiffness which loosens up only after moving around for a while, is one of the most common symptoms of this calcium problem. Signs of an advanced problem include so-called bone spurs (a deposit of calcium in the ligament) or kidney stones. Rather than needing more calcium,these people need more acidity (and vitamin D) to utilize the calcium.
Two teaspoons daily of apple-cider vinegar may help maintain the proper pH to help calcium work properly. This can be taken as part of your salad dressing, or even mixed into a 4-ounce glass of water. Excess phosphorus intake can be very detrimental for calcium utilization, pulling it out of bones and muscles. Most soft drinks contain large amounts of phosphorus and the people who drink them risk significant calcium loss from their teeth and bones.
The type of calcium supplement may be associated with absorbability. For example, calcium carbonate is more poorly absorbed than calcium lactate or calcium citrate. This is due to the alkaline nature of carbonate, and the acid nature of lactate and citrate.
Taking too much calcium in supplement form can disturb the body’s complex chemical makeup. For example, too much calcium can reduce magnesium. Most people may be in need of more magnesium than calcium it’s necessary for most enzymes to work, including the ones important for fat metabolism. And the best sources of magnesium are vegetables.
What causes Osteoporosis ?
Osteoporosis is usually a multifactorial problem, meaning there’s hardly ever just one cause. We know that a lack of calcium is usually not the cause, nor is low estrogen. Methods that are effective in treating or preventing osteoporosis in one person may have very different results in someone else. In addition, osteoporosis may not be as much of a problem as it has been made into, as Susan Brown, Ph.D., author of “Better Bones, Better Body” emphasizes:
• Osteoporosis itself doesn’t cause bone fractures; half of those with osteoporosis never get fractures.
• Severely osteoporotic vertebrae are strong enough to withstand five times the normal weight-bearing.
• Menopause does not cause osteoporosis, and only 15 percent of a woman’s bones are affected by estrogen.
• Zinc and magnesium may be as important as calcium for bones.
• Up to 80 percent of all hip-fracture patients may have a vitamin D deficiency.