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Calcium, vital mineral & when not?

Calcium, vital mineral & when not?

Calcium, vital mineral and when not? Calcium is the most abundant mineral in the body, mostly found in bones and teeth, 99%, (1% in blood and soft tissues). Lets go on a journey to explore the why, how and when of calcium supplementation. Too much of a good thing is not always a good thing!

Calcium levels in the blood need to be maintained within a narrow concentration range for normal muscle contraction and nerve impulse conduction.  Calcium functions are so vital to survival that the body will demineralize bone to maintain normal blood calcium levels when calcium intake is inadequate. In response to low blood calcium, parathyroid hormone (PTH) is secreted with the aim to restore blood calcium concentration. It does this through activating vitamin D, filters calcium is retained by the kidney and bone resorption is initiated. It is critical to obtain enough daily dietary calcium to maintain the balance.

Several randomized, placebo -controlled trials (RCTs) have tested whether calcium supplementation reduces age-related bone loss and fracture incidence in postmenopausal women. Menopausal women are at greatest risk due to estrogen loss. In the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI), 36,282 healthy, postmenopausal women (aged 50 to 79 years; mean age 62 years) were randomly assigned to receive placebo or 1,000 mg calcium carbonate and 400 IU vitamin D3 daily. After a mean of seven years of follow-up, the supplement group had significantly less bone loss at the hip. It needs to be noted in this study that the best most bioavailable form of Calcium was not used as supplementation. A 12% reduction in the incidence of hip fracture in the supplement group did not reach statistical significance, possibly due to the low rates of absolute hip fracture in the 50 to 60 year age range.

Overall, the majority of calcium supplementation trials (and meta-analyses thereof) show a positive effect on bone mineral density (BMD), although the size of the effect is modest.  Why the presence of other nutrients and ratios is crucial for calcium maintenance with calcium primarily being laid in bones in early adulthood. Post this it is about maintenance.

8 Common forms and types that are best

  1. Calcium Carbonate
    A common form of calcium supplement, calcium carbonate is an alkaline-based compound found in rocks, limestone, shells of marine animals, pearls, eggshells and snails. It holds one of the highest concentrations of elemental calcium (35-40%), but is not high in bioavailability and requires the production of extra stomach acid to be absorbed. Bioavailability refers to the amount of calcium in the supplement that can be assimilated by the digestive system, and ultimately used for cellular activity and health benefits. Calcium Carbonate is currently one of the cheapest and most prevalent forms of calcium supplements sold today. Its best to avoid this form and check all of your multivitamin and mineral supplement labels.
  2. Calcium Citrate
    Differing from the alkaline qualities of calcium carbonate, calcium citrate has an acidic base. This acidity requires less production of natural stomach acids, allowing this type of calcium to be better absorbed than the carbonate form. It does, however, have less elemental calcium concentration (20%), and again, low bioavailability.
  3. Oyster Shell Calcium
    While it may seem like a more natural form of calcium, and thus higher in absorbable content, oyster shell calcium, as well as dolomite and bone meal, are difficult to quality-control and have been found to show levels of lead toxins. In general, these “natural forms” of calcium should be avoided.
  4. Calcium Gluconate
    A form of calcium with very low levels of actual calcium concentration. You would need to take very large amounts of the supplement to reach calcium requirements, and the bioavailability is still not certain.
  5. Calcium Lactate
    The form of calcium found in foods such as aged cheese and baking powder. It has a medium bioavailability in the body because it can be absorbed at various pH levels.
  6. Calcium Phosphate
    The main form of calcium coming from cow’s milk. Tooth enamel and bones are very high in calcium phosphate, although supplemental forms have not shown to be readily bioavailable.
  7. Calcium Citrate Malate
    A water-soluble form of calcium. It is created through mixing the calcium salt found in citric acid with malic acid. This combination has higher levels of bioavailability than other forms, as it is water-soluble and does show some evidence of being dissolved into cell membranes. More bioavailable than many.
  8. Calcium Orotate
    One of the most effective forms of calcium supplement, created through the use of the mineral salts of orotic acid is calcium orotate. They are found in small amounts in all living beings. It is a primary mineral for the creation of bones and teeth, and fosters cellular communications. Both plants and animals use orotates to create DNA and RNA. Extensive scientific research done by Hans A. Nieper, (M.D) has found that orotates can penetrate cell membranes, enabling the effective delivery of the calcium ion to the inner-most layers of the cellular mitochondria and nucleus.

Calcium supplementation can be beneficial in:

  • Preventing osteoporosis
  • Reduction of muscle cramps
  • Reduction in pain associated with spinal problems
  • Maintaining bone health
  • Maintaining teeth health
  • Alleviation of sleep disorders like insomnia
  • Increasing the body’s ability to metabolize iron
  • Overall stress reduction and mental alertness

When to supplement and when not to supplement?

As the name suggests the word ‘’supplement – means the addition of an extra element or amount to something” and in the nutritional sense of a nutrient, food or herb to be used for a period of time. If your body is body is in need of repair or stress or when recommendations have been made by your nutritionist or naturopath then that is the time for supplementation. The aim for all of us is to maintain a healthy body through fresh whole & nutrient dense foods with plenty of fresh vegetables, fruit, nuts and seeds and protein foods. If you are not digesting and therefore absorbing or assimilating well due to hyperpermeability (leaky gut), dysbiosis (bacterial over growth) or for other reasons short burst of nutrient and herbal supplementation is supportive to healing.

Prescription Caution

Calcium supplements can interact with many prescription medicines, including antibiotics, bisphosphonates and high blood pressure medications. Ask your doctor or pharmacist about possible interactions between calcium supplements and your medications.

When not to supplement your daily dose?

It’s also a good idea to take your calcium supplements at a different time from your multivitamin or an iron-rich meal. Calcium may not be absorbed as well if it’s taken at the same time as iron, zinc or magnesium.

A large study of 24,000 men and women aged 35–64 years published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) in 2012, found that those who used calcium supplements had a 139% greater risk of heart attack during the 11-year study period, while intake of calcium from food did not increase the risk.

To increase calcium concentrations in the body, consume healthy levels of calcium rich foods like dairy products, sardines, salmon, dark leafy greens and bone broths. Healthy bone formation also dependent on Vitamin D and K with both assist in regulating calcium metabolism. The ratio of calcium to other electrolytes (magnesium and potassium) along with silica support bone health along with regular weight bearing exercise.

In summary, I would not recommend taking calcium on a long term daily supplement basis, (unless prescribed for a medical condition whereby you have consulted a professional), due to its potential unwanted effects.

Hair Mineral Analysis Testing (HTMA) is extremely useful in determining needs and ratios  of the body and therefore the amounts needed for short term supplementation along with other trace minerals and heavy metals.

For more information on HTMA testing and consultations contact Karen 0400 836254 or email: karensnutrition@gmail.com

References:

Calcium

The dangers of drinking milk

Nutrition and healthy eating: Calcium Supplements

Osteoporosis Australia Calcium

 

Gaining Health Naturally Naturopathy Brisbane, Sunshine Coast Qld

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