Calcium, calcium, calcium. For decades we’ve been told to make sure we get our calcium for strong bones. Doctors tell older women to take their calcium so they don’t get osteoporosis. We have calcium fortified foods and a country overly obsessed with calcium-rich dairy foods. Yet, collectively speaking, our health continues to decline. Heart disease is on the rise, as well as osteopenia and osteoporosis (clearly the excess calcium we’ve been getting is not working).
William R. Quesnell, author of Minerals: The Essential Link to Health, said, “Most people have come to believe nutrition is divisible, and that a single substance will maintain vibrant health. The touting of calcium for the degenerative disease osteoporosis provides an excellent example. Every day, the media, acting as proxy for the milk lobby, sells calcium as a magic bullet. Has it worked? It has definitely worked for milk sales; however, for American health it has been a disaster. When you load up your system with excess calcium, you shut down magnesium’s ability to activate thyrocalcitonin, a hormone that under normal circumstances would send calcium to your bones.” [Source]
It’s time to take a step back and look at what is really go on. Let’s get educated on the role of calcium in the body and how it works with other minerals, shall we?
Put down those calcium supplements for a minute and listen up….
I learned (in my training through the Nutritional Therapy Association), that calcium is a game of co-factors. Not a stand alone nutrient. Basic stuff here, folks. No one mineral works on its own, and all minerals have an effect on one another. All minerals usually have vitamin co-factors and other things that drive them or deplete them. Since using the hair tissue mineral analysis, I’ve come to understand how imperative it is to educate people about calcium due to the fact that at least 80% of tests I see have high tissue calcium. Calcium metabolism is far more complex and the recommendation to just take more calcium is no longer a good idea (perhaps it never was).
Calcium absorption requires many co-factors and nutrients.
- Vitamin D is needed for calcium (and phosphorous to be absorbed from the digestive tract). Vitamin D helps maintain normal blood calcium levels.
- Phosphorous – The ratio of calcium to phosphorous in our bones is about 2.5:1. Too much phosphorous in the diet can cause loss of calcium through the urine resulting in calcium being pulled out of the bones. This imbalance can lead to kidney stones or other calcification problems as well (like increased atherosclerotic plaque).
- Magnesium – Calcium works with magnesium in it’s functions in the blood, nerves, muscles, and tissues, particularly in regulating heart and muscle contraction and nerve conduction.
- Copper is needed to help utilize calcium. Many people today have copper dysregulation (another biggie we work on through the use of a properly interpreted hair tissue mineral analysis).
- Vitamins A and Whole Food C can also help support normal membrane transport of calcium and absorption. Vitamin K2 (sorely lacking in the modern diet) is needed to help tell calcium and vitamin D where to go. Vitamin K2 will direct minerals into teeth and bone.
- Protein intake helps absorption of calcium, but too much may reduce it. Some dietary fat may help absorption but too much may reduce it.
- Appropriate HCl (hydrochloric acid) production helps calcium (or any mineral) absorption. The duodenum is the main location for absorption of calcium because farther down the small intestine the pH is not appropriate.
- Exercise helps to improve calcium absorption.
- Too much calcium in the diet may interfere with the absorption of magnesium, zinc, iron and manganese. [Read more here ]
There are so many factors to consider here when it comes to choosing to add a calcium supplement. It is nowhere near as simple as ‘here, just take some more calcium.‘ In fact, too much calcium in both the diet and via supplementation will actually slow down the body in many ways.
Too much calcium causes the adrenal glands to be suppressed in order for the kidneys to hold on to the necessary magnesium in an attempt to keep these two minerals in balance. This adrenal suppression results in sodium and potassium being continuously excreted into the urine in large amounts, draining intracellular stores of these important minerals, even though our bodies are desperately seeking additional sources of these two essential minerals. Sodium is needed for stomach acid production, protein digestion, for facilitating transfer of glucose and amino acids into the cells of all our organs and tissues, except fat cells. Potassium is essential for thyroid hormone function and helps maintain cell membrane electrical potential”
~ excerpt from ‘The Calcium Lie’ by Dr. Robert Thompson
Fact: Did you know that calcium actually hardens concrete? With that in mind, what do you think will happen with all those calcium supplements you’ve been taking (apart from any other mineral or vitamin)? Excess calcium also hardens everything in your body, except for your bones which it will actually make more brittle (think about chalk for a second). Bones are made of much more than just calcium – please, please, please educate yourself on this.
If this post has provoked concern for you, then I have done my job and I highly recommend you continue to get further education on this subject before you continue to take calcium supplements. By far, my favorite book on this very issue is ‘The Calcium Lie’ by Dr. Robert Thompson. I’ve read it 6 times now. It is eye opening for sure. It also explains so much more than just the calcium lie and goes further into why tissue mineral analysis is the most important test we can do. If you do not know your body’s mineral status, you won’t know what mineral supplements you need to take and in what balance. I cannot recommend this book highly enough.
Further Reading on the Issues With Excess Calcium in the Body:
- Relationship Between Nutritional Habits and Hair Calcium Levels in Young Women
- Excessive Calcium Causes Osteoporosis
- Taking Calcium Supplements Causes Brain Lesions
- Stoned To Death: Calcium Supplements Proven To Kill Again
- What Are Calcium Deposits?
- Calcium Magnesium Balance
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