CALCIUM

 

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CALCIUM

DESCRIPTION

Calcium is the most abundant mineral in the human body. Over 1.5 percent of the body’s total weight is calcium, found in the skeletal and other tissues. To be absorbed, cobalamin (vitamin B12) needs calcium. Calcium needs vitamin D in order to be absorbed. We rely on our food and drink to supply us with calcium, as our bodies cannot make it. Adults lose 400-600 mg of calcium daily.

Osteoporosis is a major problem for many people, primarily in post-menopausal women. In this condition, there is a decrease in the actual bone mass. Often, falls and other accidents can lead to fractures of the hip, vertebrae, wrist, or other parts of the body. Almost all health care professionals agree that nutrition is the key to the avoidance of osteoporosis. It is generally recognized that osteoporosis is related to a deficiency of calcium, throughout the individual’s life span. The calcium supplementation needed should begin long before any symptoms of brittle bones are obvious, and should be guided by a physician or nutritionist.

Calcium is a mineral, which is often not easily assimilated by the body and may be in short supply due to dietary restrictions. Besides the normal food sources of calcium, such as dairy products and certain grains and vegetables, there are many calcium supplements available.  These include calcium lactate, calcium phosphate, calcium gluconate, calcium carbonate, chelated calcium, and dolomite. Some nutritionists advise the taking of several different forms of calcium to assure proper assimilation. It is also essential that vitamins D and C be taken along with calcium for maximum absorption. Many nutritionists will also recommend magnesium to balance the calcium intake, although no specific ratio is universally agreed upon.

Another major problem is the excessive use of phosphoric acid, which may leak calcium out of the bones. Phosphoric acid can be readily found in many of the cola-type beverages on the market today. The use of such products should be limited. Some nutritionists feel that extra dietary phosphorus is beneficial, but this phosphorus is not in the form of phosphoric acid. This can be found in poultry, eggs, meat, fish, seeds, nuts, and whole grains.

Another element, which appears to play a role in osteoporosis, is silicon (silica), which must be taken in a natural, organic, water-soluble form to be absorbed. It appears that silica may help keep calcium in the bone structure, and if it is lacking, calcium may tend to “leak out” of the bones. Aside from ready made nutritional sources of silica or silicon, some good natural sources are rice hulls, wheat bran, soybean meal, and citrus pectin. There is also some evidence that in women, high doses of citrus bioflavonoids (1,000 mg/day) have a mild estrogenic effect, which may be beneficial in preventing the calcium loss of osteoporosis.

The element fluorine, which tends to make bones harder, may also play a role in the treatment of osteoporosis. Some physicians are using large doses of this element by prescription in severe cases of this ailment. It must be emphasized that this procedure is considered experimental and remains controversial. Nutritionists feel that fluorine in modest doses (not in the form of sodium fluoride as is found in most water supplies) may be helpful in osteoporosis. Certain sea foods and some plants contain fluorine in organic form, and may be beneficial to individuals with osteoporosis.

Weight bearing appears to be necessary in order to retain calcium in the bones. Astronauts, especially when exposed to long periods of time in space, lose a large amount of calcium from their bones. This is apparently due to the significant decrease of bearing weight through their bones, which is similarly seen in patients following prolonged bedrest. Such prolonged exposures in a weightless environment may present an opportunity for experimentation with various nutritional supplements to see if calcium loss can be prevented.

In addition to its important role in the skeleton, calcium also strengthens teeth.  It is required in the process of the clotting of blood. Calcium is also necessary for the proper function of the nervous system and muscular contraction.

Deficiency symptoms

Inadequate calcium intake can lead to a number of symptoms including muscle spasm, mental confusion, and abdominal pain.  Chronically inadequate intake of calcium increases the risk of osteoporosis, which increases susceptibility to bone fractures.

Therapeutic uses

•     periodontal disease- reduction of bone density where teeth are rooted

•     high blood pressure (anecdotally reported)

Those Who may need to supplement

•     pregnant and lactating women

•     post-menopausal women

•     people who regularly take antacids

•     vegans

DIETARY REFERENCE INTAKE

Age                                            Calcium (mg/day)

0-6 months……………………………………………….. 210

6-12 months………………………………………………. 270

1-3 years……………………………………………………   500

4-8 years……………………………………………………   800

9-13 years (males)…………………………………… 1300

14-18 years (males)………………………………… 1300

19-30 years (males)………………………………… 1000

31-50 years (males)………………………………… 1000

51-70 years (males)………………………………… 1200

71+ (males)……………………………………………… 1200

9-13 years (female)…………………………………. 1300

14-18 years (females)……………………………… 1300

19-30 years (females)……………………………… 1000

31-50 years (females)……………………………… 1000

51-70 years (females)……………………………… 1200

71+ years (females)………………………………… 1200

Pregnancy………………………………………………………. *

Lactation, 0-6 months…………………………………… *

Lactation, 6-12 months…………………………………. *

* Same as other women of same age.

Best food sources

Food                                        Calcium (mg/100g)

skimmed milk, powder………………………… 1,230

cheese, cheddar………………………………………    800

sardines…………………………………………………..    550

tofu…………………………………………………………..    506

dried figs………………………………………………….    280

evaporated milk……………………………………..    260

watercress……………………………………………….    220

natural yogurt…………………………………………    200

milk………………………………………………………….    103

peanuts, roasted……………………………………..      61

cabbage…………………………………………………….      57

bread, whole-meal………………………………….      54

eggs ………………………………………………………….      52

fish, white………………………………………………..      22

 

SAFETY

Calcium is safe to take even in large amounts, since the body rids itself of unwanted quantities. However, consult with your healthcare professional if you are predisposed to forming kidney stones or other similar problems.

INTERACTIONS & CONTRAINDICATIONS

Calcium acts synergistically with vitamin D, which is needed for calcium absorption. It seems to be inversely related to magnesium and potassium, in that low levels of one produce high levels of the other. It is best to avoid excessive amounts of potassium, which can lower calcium levels.

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