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Wednesday, 30 September 2015 10:31

Don't Ditch Your Calcium!

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Recently, two new studies came out  suggesting a lack of evidence to support taking calcium for better bone health or to prevent fractures. As a nutritionist I question the entire validity of these studies and here's why.

The study did not mention what other nutrients the participants in the study were taking WITH the calcium. There are numerous other nutrients that contribute greatly to bone health, including magnesium, vitamin K2, vitamin D3, B6, zinc, copper, vitamin C, manganese, folic acid, boron, strontium, and silicon.

An adequate amount of vitamin D3 especially, is a big factor with the absorption of calcium. Many individuals test low in this hormone generally, if they are even tested at all. Without D3 we cannot use the calcium that we get from our foods/supplements. We only get D3 from the sun, fish, and some fortified foods. Even if it is included in a supplement it still may not be enough, unless it's at least 1,000 IUs.

And when will magnesium ever be recognized? It is every bit as important to calcium's absorption as D3. Without magnesium there is a chain of events that may occur. Again, if there isn't enough magnesium, then D3 cannot be absorbed. Vitamin K2 has also been severely overlooked in its role in osteocalcin - its role is to anchor calcium, molecules and hold them in place within the bone. Without K2, impaired mineralization occurs. Boron is another missing mineral because it activates hormones like estrogen and vitamin D3. And these are only a few of the needed nutrients! Bone is real living tissue with diverse nutritional needs.

Another aspect of these studies is that the quality of the supplements were not addressed. Many drugstores do not carry high end calcium supplements. These supplements are simply not absorbed if they are an inferior quality. Older women and people with a compromised digestive system will not absorb just any old calcium supplement.

I would also bet other important aspects were not taken into consideration, like how lifestyle and food choices deplete bone integrity:

  • A high protein diet
  • High stress, especially with low DHEA levels
  • Low exercise, especially weight bearing activity 
  • Excessive alcohol consumption 
  • Smoking
  • High intake of sugar, refined carbs and/or sodas 
  • High caffeine intake, (even 3 cups of coffee all but doubles the risk of osteoporosis) 
  • Lack of hydrochloric acid (especially for those over 40) 
  • Those on hypothyroid medication or corticocosteroid medications
  • Those on any restricted diets
  • Those eating poorly in general
  • A high acid-ash diet, a diet high in animal protein and refined grains, low in vegetables and fruit intake
  • High sodium intake

The study also mentioned minor side effects from high supplementation of calcium. If people take the correct form of supplement and a good quality balanced calcium supplement (with the other needed nutrients) and drink adequate amounts of water they do not have these potential side effects. And did you know adequate amounts of calcium are actually needed for numerous other functions in the body (even weight loss!)?

So don't ditch your calcium and magnesium. Numerous studies have been done on the importance of calcium and magnesium over the years in regard to bone health. This report included only two studies.






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