Ok so whats the big deal with “Calcium”!

I wanted to address the topic of Calcium because there is so much publicity about getting enough calcium in our diets and so many people are supplementing but being told their calcium levels are low, there are antagonists that can interfere with proper calcium absorption.  It’s amazing how calcium is being offered in everything even anti-acids like Tums, (some eat Tums so often they believe they are getting their recommended daily dose that way, please don’t rely on Tums to supply your calcium intake).

Let me start off by helping you understand the purpose Calcium serves in the body.  It is of course what our bones & teeth are made of, but it also helps to regulate “blood pressure”, the impulse activity of nerves & the contraction of muscles including the heart.  Acetyl-Choline, which helps the body to transmit the nerve impulses, is manufactured with the AID of calcium, meaning without enough calcium there won’t be enough Acetyl-Choline and nerve impulses can be impaired.  There are also a large number of enzymes which cannot function without it.

Calcium is needed to  also contribute to the clotting factor and is needed to absorb vitamin B-12.  The National Academy of Science recommends we consume 800-1200 mg. of calcium a day.

According to the book The Nutrients in Herbs & Foods, “The role of calcium in contracting muscles is leading researchers to explore calcium blocking agents in the treatment of migraine headaches.  Headaches are often the result of over-constriction in the arteries of the head caused by sodium & calcium replacing magnesium within the muscle cells.” So simply put, many migraine headaches could be happening due to sodium overload and calcium being unused.  When a body stays in a state of Cellular acidity (pH), the body uses calcium to quench the inner fire, it’s not a an accident that many who suffer from chronic heartburn, acid reflux/GERD also seem to complain about lots of Headaches.  Magnesium is what is needed to relax the muscles of the cells and thru out the body.

We’ve all heard about Osteoporosis which is where the bones become very frail and can break & fracture with little effort, this has been attributed to a lack of dietary calcium, but there are always contributing factors that cause a depletion of anything in the body.  Lifestyle factors that contribute to an imbalance: like lack of exercise, smoking, too much sodium and phosphate intake (table salt, processed foods, carbonated drinks) and vitamin D levels being too low.  These contributing factors work over a period of time which ends up with the body making more withdrawals vs. deposits of calcium .

Our bones are alive folks, what do I mean by that?  Well bone tissues is very active metabolically speaking.  There is a continuous exchange between bone tissue & the calcium & phosphate ions that circulate in our blood stream.  So when 1200 mg. are recommended for a daily allowance, science has estimated that up to 700 mg. of calcium ions are exchanged between bone & blood each day.   We ladies know we are more at risk for weakened bone status because pregnancy takes it toll, lactation & the constant hormonal changes our bodies go thru each month. But due to the higher intake of carbonated drinks, energy drinks which are super high in phosphates men are starting to also be at risk for suffering from bone loss issues.

High Blood pressure is a signal of calcium deficiency especially by those who consume a large amount of  table salt in their diet which decreases the serum calcium levels, or if you smoke, if you are a big lover of red meats or carbonated beverages  (big soda pop or carbonated energy drinks, red bulls etc.) which are super high in phosphates, expect to be low or deficient in calcium.

Not all calcium sources are usable.

There are certain modifiers, that actually  need to be in place when it comes to being able to metabolize proper amounts of calcium in our body.  Sodium, potassium, saturated fat, protein, vitamin D, phosphorus, magnesium, fiber, lactose, there needs to be a balance for proper calcium absorption or metabolism.  Calcium carbonate (i.e. limestone or oyster shells, contain high amounts of calcium), but not the most useful source for the body.  There is no way around the fact that Nutrient balance is what is going to offer the best absorption and the body’s ability to metabolize what it needs from foods.

With Nutrients in the body there are Antagonists and Synergists that are at play.

Let’s start with antagonists:  There are things in excess that will rob calcium from being absorbed and utilized in the body that is what an antagonist is.  So over doing it with sodium will cause the body to push out excessive amounts of calcium & phosphorus thru your kidneys, which makes the amount of available calcium in the blood low, and blood pressure goes up. Over time that excess calcium & phosphorus can also contribute to kidney stones.

In the gut, sodium can bind with calcium and forms what is referred to an insoluble soaps that are excreted, which inhibits proper calcium uptake.  So do saturated fats.  In our blood system (circulatory), saturated fats raise our LDL which is the bad guy cholesterol.  That bad guy cholesterol binds with calcium and that’s what forms the excess plaque in our arteries.

So what should we do that works in harmony with our body being able to do its thing with calcium which is referred to as a synergist?  Well for starters many of my client’s I’m sure get tired of me harping on magnesium but there it is.. synergist #1.  Chemically, magnesium & calcium are very much alike.  Yet as nutrients in the body they are like night & day.  Magnesium works like a laxative (releases), calcium constipates (contracts or binds).  Magnesium helps in the body to allow the calcium to head to the bones/teeth and be used in a positive way; a good ratio for balance is 2:1 ratio.  Calcium being the 2 and magnesium the 1.

Potassium works with calcium helping to control high blood pressure.  Now in the plant kingdom the very best calcium contributors are also natural contributors of potassium, Hmm who knew, oh yeah, God put it all together that way..   Vegetarians are very seldom deficient in Calcium, provided they are not loading up on the carbs & excess starches. Next would be good old vitamin D, which does it’s job to trigger a hormone that then allows calcium chelates to be absorbed.  what’s a calcium chelate ( calcium that is bound to protein, amino acids etc), in our intestinal wall.

Now I want to point out that many sources of calcium contain some large amounts of heavy metals like lead, arsenic, cadmium & mercury.  Oyster shells & bone meal are 2 popular calcium sources that can contain larger quantities of heavy metals.  So grabbing the higher amounts of calcium through the plant kingdom can be super beneficial.  Read the labels on your supplement bottles to pin point the source of calcium in the product.  If unsure, call the manufacturer and ask where their source

Looking at the phosphates, very few people ever end up depleted or low in this area due to all  the consumption of red meats, carbonated drinks, actually many have way to much which can also throw off the calcium balance.

If any of you would like some one on one assistance with figuring out how to balance some of these issues,  if you have blood pressure issues, frequent headaches, gut/intestinal issues.  Balance is the key and then the body is free to heal and balance itself.  You can go to My service website    http://mkt.com/harvested-health-llc and schedule an appointment for a 1 hr. consultation + QFA Analysis (urine & saliva) and we can see what story your body wants to tell.

Healthfully yours,

Jodi Barnett N.H.C.

QFA Clinician, Orthomolecular Nutrition Coach,

Raw Food Coach, Student Doctor of Naturopathy

Harvested Health LLC

*  References used from Pedersen, Mark, Nutritional Herbology*

Want to really enhance your recipe? Why Roast Spices?


Image result for photos of coriander, cardamom, fennel

If you really want to add robust flavor to your cooking, whether it’s a quickie meal or a detailed fancier dish, you really should experience roasting your spices.  Yep that’s right… you can roast any dry spice to bring out an amazing flavor even, with care, cut & sifted leaves like oregano and basil can be roasted.  Ground spices roast well, but I will go on to explain how you can roast whole spices & grind them after, once you’ve tried I’ll bet you will be left wondering why oh why had I never tried this before!.

The roasting uses a gentle heat to release a spices hidden aromatic & flavorful oils that bring out the full flavor.  Typically roasting makes the spices flavor earthier, richer, and slightly nutty tasting.  In some cases like with cinnamon & ginger, the spice will become sweeter & more mellow.

Some spices that roast really well are cumin, pepper, coriander, cardamon, mustard seed, cloves & my absolute favorite “fennel”.    Roasting sesame seeds gives them a deeper nuttier flavor that many master chefs love to incorporate into their prized dishes.

So, I’ll run thru HOW to roast them then I’m going to toss a couple of recipes you can try.



Use a small heavy pan I use my cast iron or a wok.  Some like to start with a cold pany others prefer to preheat the pan, I preheat mine. Place the spices in the dry pan and shake or stir them with a wooden sppon while they roast.  You want to heat the spices slowly, so they warm clear thru to the center of the spice without burning the outside so use low to med. low heat.


the length of time to roast is dependent on the spice (how big and or hard the spice is, how much heat you use and of course the pan you are using.  Be careful not to burn the spices or they will taste bitter.  They should NOT smoke at any time during the roasting process

You will know the spices are ready when they smell rich and get slightly darker in color.  They will be super aromatic as soon as they hit the pan, but wait just a tad longer and that aroma will fill the air as the spices brown.  The goal is to roast them all the way thru, not just on the surface, but again without burning.  That usually takes just minutes, you may hear a little popping sound as the “whole” spices are roasting.


whole spices are typically preferred over ground for roasting, that because whole spices better retain their natural oils & so contain more flavor to release when they are heated or ground.  You can roast ground spices too, just keep in mind that it will take only seconds before they are done.

Some cooks like to roast different spices separately, because they take different amounts of time to roast.  Since you are relying on the aroma to let you know how the roasting is coming along you will do that best with separate batches.  Others like to toast various spices at once, like a blend of spices you are using for a particular recipe.  if blending you want to start with the spice that needs the longest cooking time first then add the others in order of how fast they roast.  That may take some experience by doing till you get super comfortable trying and knowing this, as I say experience is the best teacher.  If you are adding ground spices to whole spices add those just before your are done.

Cooling & grinding:  once your spices are roasted move them from the pan to a bowl or plate to cool if you leave them in the pan they will keep cooking.  To grind the cooled spices you can use a mortar & pestle or a spice grinder, coffee grinder  roasted spices are much easier to grind than un-roasted ones.

You get the best flavor when the spices are used immediately but you can store most in a covered jar for a few weeks without too much deterioration.

NOW, here are a couple of fun recipes you can try this with, give me some feedback after you’ve tried them and let me know how you liked them, or roast your spices on your own favorite recipes and see how it totally enhances that same recipe.



1 TB grapeseed oil

2 TB sesame seeds

1 tsp whole cardomon seeds you can substitute ground 1/4 tsp.

1 large onion coarsely chopped

1 clove garlic minced

1 cup cooked & cooled brown rice

1/4 cup roasted cashews ( I always buy my nuts raw and roast them fresh myself using the same roasting method as the spices)


heat oil in pan, add sesamed seeds and cardmon seeds (already previously roasted) and cook over med heat, stirring about 3 mins. add onion and garlic cook stirring occasionally til tender and lightly browned bout 5 mins.

Add brown rice and cook til warmed thru out sprinkle with cashews and serve  This makes a nice side dish and this recipe will serve about 2 people.


While this is not your typical chili, this take on chile verde contains a fabulous dose of cumin & coriander making vegan green tomatillo chili a viable choice even you hard core meat eaters.


1 TB grape seed oil

1 large white onion diced

1 pobalano pepper roasted seeded & chopped.

1 green banana pepper seeded & diced

1 jalapeno pepper seeded & diced

1 green bell pepper diced

2 cloves garlic diced

1 TB cumin

1 TB ground coriander seed

1 TB chili powder

4 Tomatillos diced

8 large fresh green tomatoes, peeled, cored & diced appx. 6 cups

1 15 oz. cans garbanzo beans drained and rinshed

1 12 oz. bottle dark mexican lager (yes beer)

2 TB vegetable broth powder plus 1 cup water

sea salt to your taste.

Heat oil in pan over med high heat, saute onions and peppers till translucent bout 5 mins.

add garlic cumin coriander and chili powder (I roast these spices together first) and saute for 2 mins. more or til super fragrant.

add tomatillos, green tomatoes, 1 can garbanzo beans beer & veg broth powder and reduce heat to a med. heat to a med. low. and cook til a thick stew forms. bout 20 mins. stir frequently.

pour stew into a blender and puree, return to sauce pan.

add second can of garbanzo beans and cook over low heat for 5 mins more just till beans are warmed thru.

serve with chopped fresh cilantro,sour cream with chips or dip tortillas as an appetizer.

If you like some heat in your foods you will LOVE this recipe.

As always,
Healthfully yours,

Jodi Barnett a.k.a. the Healthy Nut.

Harvested Health LLC