Calcium is the most abundant mineral in the body, essential to life itself, with 99 percent found in bones and teeth. The remaining one percent is responsible for strengthening cell membranes and is a cofactor in many enzyme reactions. Calcium supports the nervous system, hormone formations and proper blood clotting PLUS regulates cardiovascular physiology! It has been shown to help prevent a large assortment of diseases and afflictions though it should not be considered a cure-all.
Calcium Needs for Children Younger kids and babies with little calcium and vitamin D intake (which aids in calcium absorption) are at increased risk for rickets. Rickets is a bone-softening disease that causes severe bowing of the legs, poor growth, and sometimes muscle pain and weakness.
During childhood and adolescence, the body uses the mineral calcium to build strong bones — a process that’s all but complete by the end of the teen years. Bone calcium begins to decrease in young adulthood and progressive loss of bone occurs as we age, particularly in women.
Teens, especially girls, whose diets don’t provide the nutrients to build bones to their maximum potential are at greater risk of developing the bone disease osteoporosis, which increases the risk of fractures from weakened bones. When kids get enough calcium and physical activity during childhood and the teen years, they can start out their adult lives with the strongest bones possible.
Research continues to point to calcium deficiency as the primary cause of osteoporosis, the demineralization of bones. Osteoporosis occurs mostly in postmenopausal women, causing approximately 200,000 deaths a year, more than claimed by cancer of the breast, cervix and uterus combined! This disfiguring, deadly condition referred to as “brittle bones” seems to be the result of a diet deficient over a period of years in calcium, compounded by a lower absorption of this essential element due to aging digestive organs. Research studies indicate that this condition can begin very early in life and rapidly escalate with age and dietary changes. It has been reported in medical writings that persons over the age of 40 may have a bone loss as high as 25% of stored bone calcium.*1
Best Ways to Get Calcium
• Veggies. You’ll find calcium in broccoli and dark green, leafy vegetables (especially collard and turnip greens, kale, and bok choy).
• Soy foods. Turn to calcium-fortified (or “calcium-set”) tofu, soy milk, tempeh, soy yogurt, and cooked soybeans (edamame).
• Calcium-fortified foods. Look for calcium-fortified orange juice, soy or rice milk, breads, and cereal.
• Beans. You can get decent amounts of calcium from baked beans, navy beans, white beans, and others.
• Canned fish. You’re in luck if you like sardines and canned salmon with bones.
Potency Venthen-Paulson (1953) measured the dietary calcium of elderly people and found 74% of them ingesting less than 500 mg. of calcium per day had severe osteoporosis.*2 A study by Borgdoroff, Shock and Parson (1954) revealed that a normal elderly man achieved a positive calcium balance at a dietary intake of approximately 800 milligrams per day. The same study revealed that osteoporotic patients needed as high as 1500 milligrams per day to achieve positive calcium balance.*3
In 1970 Baltimore et. al., and Alveoli, McDonald & Lee, (1967) revealed that subjects in their late seventies consumed 18% less calcium than subjects in their early seventies.4 Medical research has shown that the addition of calcium supplements to the diet can restore strength to the bones, particularly when the calcium is balanced with minerals that enhance the absorption and utilization of this important element.
Calcium supplements tend to lower blood levels of cholesterol and triglycerides. It has also been established that people with diets higher in calcium tend to have lower blood pressure. Because calcium also supports the functioning of nerves and muscles, early indications of calcium deficiency are muscle cramping and irritability. With the support of medical research, the market has been flooded with calcium supplements, many which fail to take into consideration calcium metabolism. It is important that a calcium supplement provides supple-mentation designed for superior absorption, balanced with elements which insure utilization of calcium in a myriad of metabolic functions.
There is a Difference The “untold story” of calcium supplements is that the calcium has little value without many of the 73 other minerals also present. Each mineral depends on others to activate its contribution to your health. Health food stores and pharmacies all stock a bevy of calcium supplements, each one offering varying degrees of effectiveness. Look for a formula that also offers magnesium and an ionic trace minerals complex, said to be responsible for many health benefits.
Calcium needs vary throughout life The recommended dietary intake of calcium is different for people of different ages and life stages:
To live and function with optimum health, every cell in your body requires a complex interaction of calcium and dozens of minerals Heart cells, brain cells, the cells that are liver, kidneys or bones – if they’re all functioning well, you feel great.
It could be an end to the pain of bone spurs or calcium deposits… or the return of a reservoir of energy… or the restored confidence of stronger bones – the forms of relief are as personal as pain. What can be said as a general statement of fact is that restoring calcium and the mineral balance in your body will have a positive impact on the quality of life you can enjoy.
To Your Good Health,
About the Author:
Dr. Bo Wagner holds a Doctor of Natural Medicine, a Doctor of Naturopathy, a Ph.D. & Diplomate in Clinical Nutrition, is Board Certified in Integrative Medicine, a Fellow of the American Association of Integrative Medicine and a former Dean of Internal Wellness & Professor of Functional Medicine and currently serves as an Adjunct Faculty member at the University of Natural Medicine. Visit: www.drbo.com for more information and resources, and connect with Dr. Bo on Facebook and Twitter.
1 “The Effects of Whole-Bone Extract on Calcium Absorption in the Elderly.” Age and Aging (1973) A.C.M. Windson, D.PO.Misra, J.M. Louden and G.E. Stadd Department of Geriatric Medicine, Bristol General Hospital.
*These statements in this blog have not been evaluated by the FDA. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Consult your physician if you are pregnant, nursing, taking medication or have a medical condition before beginning supplementation. Information contained in this bulletin is for informational and educational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for advice from your physician.