Here's another guest post from my friend Todd Burrier, who is always looking for ways to support people's good health. He blogs at toddburrier.com. Todd's post below is a reminder that learning all the facts about nutrition and not just going with what the marketers tell us is critical to our long-term health.
Calcium... its not just for Bones
The milk marketers have done a great job over the years promoting milk as the way to get the Calcium we need to keep our bones strong. There is certainly a little bit, and I mean little bit, of truth to this. But Calcium is about way more than strong bones, and milk is one of the less desirable ways to get it.
Calcium is the most abundant, essential mineral in the human body. The average human body contains two to three pounds of calcium at any given time, 99% of which is in the bones and the teeth.
If we don’t continue to put adequate amounts into our body, our body will take our stored calcium from our bones and use it in the other locations where it is also essential. Calcium is required for blood-clotting, transmission of signals in nerve cells, muscle contraction, and also works with magnesium in the production of energy. Therefore it is a valuable component of aerobic energy, metabolism, and fat burning.
When the body does not have sufficient calcium coming in, it will rob the bones, to do these other important processes. Remember, the body is intelligent. It knows what it needs to do, and what the order of most immediate importance is. Producing energy to function is more important than having strong bones…so too little calcium will lead to bone issues (ultimately osteoporosis). You may have heard that kidney stones come from too much calcium in the blood stream.
This is not a function of too much calcium in the body, this is a function of the body needing to deplete the calcium that is stored so that it can circulate it for other purposes. The answer is to solve the depletion issues, which involves way more than just consuming calcium.
Calcium depletion comes from a variety of lifestyle choices. Excessive protein in the diet (above what your lifestyle needs), laxatives and diuretics, and too much coffee, cola, and saturated fat, all deplete calcium. Insufficient exercise also contributes to calcium deficiency.
There are also multiple nutrients that synergize with calcium to help it absorb and be properly utilized in the bones and the rest of the body. Magnesium, Vitamin D, and Vitamin K are just a few of the important ones (there’s more). Insufficient amounts of these nutrients will also decrease the calcium levels in the body over time, and make the body have to work harder.
This also creates a domino effect because the body will take these nutrients away from other activities to be used in the important processes that calcium is needed for, there by furthering the depletion of these associated nutrients, and then depleting any nutrients they co-factor with for other processes. This is why we need high levels of all nutrients in general.
Short term indicators of too little calcium could be issues with hair, skin, nails, sleep, cramps, and blood pressure to name a few. Longer term issues, which you do not want to experience include excessive body fat, periodontal problems, and osteoporosis. Fortunately, almost all of these issues are reversible with increased intake of calcium and it’s associated nutrients.
Calcium containing foods include, green leafy vegetables, broccoli, beans, almonds, dates, oranges, and whole grains. Yes dairy is a source also, but not as good as the above. Nature has a way of delivering nutrients to us in food sources that contain the associated nutrients too…especially in fruits and vegetables.
The RDV for calcium is 1000 mg per day, but this is too low for our society and the modern lifestyle. We need more. Foods where calcium is most absorb able (fruits and vegetables ) have mush less mineral content than in past decades due to farming techniques, shipping and storage, and soil depletion (for example Calcium content in Pineapples has declined 60% over 30 years). We need to be supplementing with a potent bioavailable source that contains the additional associated nutrients.