Women need calcium. We hear it. We read it. It is now general knowledge. Less known is that men need calcium just as much as women. Active people need calcium for bone density, but to the body, bone density is not as important as preserving blood levels of calcium to ensure regular heart rhythm and proper nerve and muscle function throughout the body.

There are several types of calcium available. Which one is best?

I don’t believe the human body is capable of properly digesting and assimilating dolomite (rock) or oyster shell calcium. Bone meal (certified lead free) and calcium citrate are two of the more popular and bio-available forms.

Skeletal StrengthAntacids are not good to use as a calcium supplement. They lack the necessary magnesium, and often contain coal tar, sodium, and food coloring. (If heartburn is a frequent symptom, antacids are not the answer. Give us a call or e-mail us to learn about dietary changes and herbs to strengthen the digestive system to remove the cause of the problem.)

Magnesium, while not officially one of the top five nutrients, is necessary for proper calcium utilization. Various sources site proportions ranging from two parts calcium, one part magnesium to equal parts calcium and magnesium. In truth, it depends on what the bowel will tolerate. Magnesium tends to activate the bowel.

To increase bone-mass or repair broken limbs
, the body needs large amounts of certain nutrients. While we know calcium is important, the body cannot digest, absorb or utilize calcium without other nutrients. The stomach requires sufficient hydrochloric acid to digest calcium for assimilation. Vitamins A, C and D are needed to make healthy bones, as are other minerals such as: magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, boron and silicon.
Formula Skeletal Strength includes all of these elements, along with digestive aids to improve the body’s ability to absorb these elements.

Calcium Carbonate

Calcium carbonate is the mineral form of calcium that is the predominant form in dolomite, a very common and cheap source of calcium used in many supplement preparations today. One of the primary characteristics of calcium carbonate in nature is its tendency to precipitate out of solution back into its hard, rocklike form. Dehydration, whether caused by the failure to drink enough water or by taking medications such as diuretics, can promote this precipitation. Thomas E. Levy, MD JD, OPTIMAL NUTRITION FOR OPTIMAL HEALTH, Pg 128

Other considerations
The human populations that consume the most calcium have the highest mortality rates in the world. The Scandinavian countries, the USA and New Zealand are the dairy consuming countries and mortality rates soar in these countries. In Japan and Portugal where the consumption of calcium from dairy products is the lowest on the planet so are the mortality rates. [International Journal Cardiology, Volume 33, 1991] Bill Sardi

Overdoses of nonorganically based elements, seen in many mineral preparations must accumulate when they are continually taken, and the result is usually bad in the long run. There is a lot of calcium in most diets, and even a relatively small amount of calcium supplementation, taken on a regular basis, can result in undesirable, rocklike, nonbiologic deposits of calcium in the tissues. Thomas E. Levy, MD JD

Some other facts...

• The widespread shortage of magnesium, not calcium, in the western diet is attributed to the high rates of sudden-death heart attack.
• Calcium supplements should be balanced with magnesium, (probably in equal ratios). There is a false idea that magnesium interferes with the absorption of calcium. Increasing magnesium intake up to 826 milligrams per day was not found to inhibit calcium absorption at an intake level of 812 milligrams of calcium. [Journal American College Nutrition, Volume 13, 1994]

Separating Facts from Fiction

There is another side to calcium that advocates don't mention. Non assimilated calcium can accumulate in heart valves (mitral valve), a condition that strikes 1 in 11 Americans. It can become a concretion in the kidneys and become a stone, a condition that affects 1 in 12 Americans. While some studies indicate increased calcium intake may help reduce the risk of kidney stones, a recent study suggests calcium stone formers should consume water "relatively low in calcium" and calcium-rich meals should be avoided. [Urology International, Volume 67, 2001]
Calcium can also pile up in blood vessels. Calcium artery scans are now performed to diagnose arteriosclerosis. Calcifications can block the circulation to the back of the eyes too. Bill Sardi

Calcium Toxicity

In nature, precipitation occurs when the water content of the dissolved calcium carbonate begins to evaporate, concentrating the mineral and making it easier to drop out of solution. In the body, similar factors can prompt the undesirable precipitation of poorly dissociated mineral forms out of the blood, including calcium carbonate. Thomas E. Levy, MD JD

Even a highly dissolvable form of calcium with weak ionic attractions when dissolved, such as calcium chloride or calcium citrate, will eventually saturate the blood and drop out of solution. So even if your calcium (or other mineral) does not come from rock, it can still eventually deposit abnormally in your tissues. Tom Levy

One of the clearest examples of toxic accumulation is seen with most common forms of calcium supplementation. Massive amounts of calcium from such sources will increase bone density only slightly, while significantly increasing unwanted calcium deposition elsewhere in the body. Furthermore, high supplemental calcium may increase the risk of symptomatic kidney stones, while high dietary calcium intake appears to decrease the risk.

Too much calcium not only results in calcifications, but calcium overload can produce severe muscle spasms and cramping. Calcium is a muscle constrictor while magnesium is a muscle relaxant. Excessive calcium often produces symptoms of constipation, heart flutters (fibrillation), eyelid twitch, migraines, leg cramps, back aches and monthly cramping in females. Bill Sardi

Sodium competes with calcium for absorption. American women may require far more calcium than women in Asian cultures. Women with low protein and sodium intake may need as little as 500 milligrams of calcium per day (which is about the amount Japanese women consume). Women with high protein (meat/poultry) and sodium (salt) consumption may need as much as 2000 milligrams of calcium per day. [Principles Bone Biology, 2nd edition, Robert P. Heaney, 2002]

More About Calcium

Your 2-3 pounds of calcium resides mostly in the bones and teeth. It also is important for healthy nerve impulses, and is a natural tranquilizer. It helps prevent cadmium and lead poisoning, as well as absorbing strontium 90, a radioactive material from nuclear explosions. It is needed for a strong immune system, helps the body lower cholesterol and aids in preventing colon cancer. It is also one of the elements needed to lower blood pressure.

Calcium is commonly found in nature and in our food. So why are we often deficient?

A high fat diet or low hydrochloric acid (HCl) (for people under 50) in the stomach prevents us from assimilating it. Low amounts of HCl is almost universal in older people, hence they wind up calcium deficient. HCl is also needed to absorb iron to build up the blood. (For this reason, persons over 50 should consider taking PDA to increase general mineral uptake.)

Another reason people are low in calcium is that by eating too much meat or other high-phosphorus foods, the phosphorus drives out what could have been a normal calcium intake. You will notice that when you talk about nutrition, you are talking about balance. If another element is too prevalent, that may be your problem, and not what “appears” to be a lack of calcium in your diet at all! The same reasoning should go into solving the osteoporosis problem so common in women after menopause (and men can have the problem too!).

When your kidneys no longer work properly, phosphorus levels in the blood can go up, causing a condition called hyperphosphatemia. Over time, this condition may be associated with serious illness, mineral deposits in the heart and blood vessels, and bone disease. Controlling the amount of phosphorus you take in can help.

Calcium Plus DHigh Phosphorus Foods:

Foods containing chocolate, such as candy, brownies, chocolate cake and cookies. Dried beans and peas, pork and beans, soybeans, lentils
Liver, sardines, organ meats, frozen chicken, fast food chicken, hot dogs, pork products. Peanuts, other nuts, nut butters. Corn, snow peas, turnips, okra, spinach, asparagus, Brussels sprouts, mushrooms, sweet potato. Dark colas, bee. Pancakes, waffles, baking soda biscuits, bran cereals, oatmeal, whole wheat bread. Milk, yogurt, cheese, ice cream, custard, pudding, sauces, cream pies. Food additives such as phosphoric acid, sodium tripolyphosphate, sodium hexametaphosphate, potassium tripolyphosphate, tetrasodium pyrophosphate

We need to understand that bones are also made of protein, and perhaps through poor digestion and diet, the protein to make the little sacks holding calcium and other minerals constituting bone is a major cause of bone weakness, not a lack of calcium! You see the danger of having just a little knowledge, but also the dividends of doing a little detective work on your own!

Along with eating your green, leafy veggies, citrus fruits, beans, grains and nuts, extra supplementation may be needed.
Vitamin Calcium w/ Magnesium + D is important because calcium needs vitamin D to be absorbed into the body. Also available is the Dr. Scala line of supplements, which include a Calcium-Magnesium product.

In addition, the mineral magnesium helps direct calcium to perform correctly in the body. Sometimes what looks like too little calcium is plenty of calcium with not enough magnesium to activate the calcium properly! A deficiency of trace elements like copper, boron and silica may also prevent calcium from doing its job. We’re right back to the principles of balance and teamwork.

Food sources
Goat’s milk, green vegetables, kale, seeds, nuts, whole grains, sesame seeds, bonemeal.

Herbal sources
Horsetail, alfalfa, herbal CA Formula.

There is evidence that the mineral silicon can be transformed by the body into calcium when needed. This fascinating theory is based on the eating habits of animals, who end up with more calcium than they eat or drink! So where is it coming from?