Low calcium is a big concern for a lot of people, especially postmenopausal women and anyone who is ageing. As you age there is more risk of your bones becoming brittle.
It is commonly known that after menopause a drop in hormones causes more risk of developing osteoporosis. Low vitamin D can mean calcium is not properly absorbed, as well as an acidic body, and a lack of cofactors like magnesium. Many people take calcium tablets ad hoc, not realising the difference in the quality of supplements. Unfortunately one of the most common forms of calcium that people take through modern advertising is calcium carbonate, which is inexpensive and easy to produce. However it has health hazards. It is a very crude calcium from rocks and is hard to absorb, and it also lowers hydrochloric acid (HCl) in the stomach, which is essential for digestion. The one place in your body you want to be acid is the stomach, to break down your food and kill off any nasty bacteria or parasites you may have ingested.
Excess calcium in the wrong form for you can cause hardening of the arteries and hypercalcemia (high calcium in the blood). The symptoms of hypercalcemia include vomiting, abdominal pain and altered mental status.
In 1915 a serious toxicity developed when Bertram Sippy introduced the Sippy regime. This consisted of hourly ingestion of milk and cream and the gradual addition of egg and cooked cereal for ten days, combined with alkaline powders, which provided relief for those with peptic ulcers. Over several decades the Sippy regime resulted in kidney failure and hypercalcemia.
In most people the effects reversed once the diet was stopped, but it was fatal in some people with protracted vomiting. During the past 15 years, it has been reported in women taking poor quality calcium supplements above the recommended range of 1.2 to 1.5g daily, for prevention and treatment of osteoporosis, and is exacerbated by dehydration.
Now it’s not all bad news – when you take the calcium that’s right for you it does wonders for your body. Calcium is the most abundant mineral in the body and some of the things it’s important for include your bone health, your thyroid gland, contracting your muscles, helping you sleep and keeping your body alkaline.
In Western countries we have the highest rates of osteoporosis and yet we consume the highest rates of dairy products.
So why are we so vulnerable to getting osteoporosis when Asian countries have such a low rate? Most Asian populations don’t consume milk, and their bone health is better than ours.
What do we do differently?
The problem is we consume a vast amount of acidic foods which then makes the calcium unavailable. When the body is acidic it robs the bones of calcium to help alkalise the blood. By acidic foods I mean foods such as: sugar, coffee, white flour, junk food, dairy in excess and excess meat in the absence of vegetables. The Japanese for example have plenty of alkalising seaweed. Typically as a nation we have dropped off the good veggies which help offset the acid – and we pay for it!
The best way to determine how much calcium you need is to ask your naturopath for a hair analysis and consider your activity and age. You need phosphorus to help calcium absorb into the right places; otherwise calcium stones can develop. However, too much phosphorus can leach calcium out of the body. One of the better calcium supplements is calcium phosphate in a monobasic form (easily digested). This suits a lot of people as bone is mostly made from calcium phosphate. If phosphate is high then an amino acid chelate is good. Calcium phosphate has been shown to have a marked positive effect on cancer.
Remember to include healthy calcium sources in your diet like tahini (sesame seeds), green leafy vegetables, almonds, small-boned fish like sardines, and seaweed. Balance ‘naughty’ foods with alkalising greens and lemons and you’ll have healthier bones and a better night’s sleep.
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