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.
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*