- Why do we need Calcium
- How Calcium works with other vitamins/minerals in your body
- Symptoms of low calcium
- Foods that can raise Calcium
- Supplements that can increase calcium
Why do we need Calcium?
At some point during childhood, we all have heard our parents tell us to drink our milk so we can grow big and strong… While Calcium is critical to bone health, we can get adequate amounts from food sources other than milk.
Truthfully, milk is not necessarily the enemy. I know lots of people that do well on milk but the difference is typically that they are consuming raw milk. The way that milk is processed and the antibiotics that are given when needed have negative effects on our system.
Calcium does more than just make bones healthy. It also helps to keep blood from clotting which is why you may have heard taking it with vitamin K2 can be a good idea. It also helps our muscles to contract so that we can walk, use our arms and carry our kids around. On top of that, it even helps our heart beat. I’d say that is a big deal…
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Calcium is found to make up 1.5-2% of body weight in humans and is by far the most abundant mineral. It is very important to take vitamin D3 if you are taking a calcium supplement. Vitamin D3 aids in calcium absorption and metabolism, it also helps the calcium be absorbed in the digestive tract and helps to regulate blood calcium levels. This is critical because if there isn’t enough calcium in the blood than the parathyroid gland will simply release extra parathyroid hormone and that is not good because that will pull calcium out of the bones to ensure that the blood gets enough. This means that even though calcium is predominant in the bones that the body will sacrifies the bone calcium to give it to blood calcium. Hello, osteoporosis…
Calcium is an alkali mineral that is found in the Earth’s crust. In Latin Calcium comes from calc and it means “lime”, such as limestone. The calcium supplement that is often used by people is derived from Dolomite, which is a calcium-magnesium earth mineral; the body is able to use this form as it is slightly soluble.
The problem that can arise is that dolomite is often mixed with lead in the earths clay and precautions need to be taken when purchasing this product.
If you have high oxalates and eat food such as spinach, almonds and chocolate on a regular basis that can interfere with absorption as well. With adrenal issues on the rise, we have to watch as everyone is encouraged to increase sea salt. Although this is extremely helpful, the excess salt can increase calcium loss in the urine. Sugar is also another culprit in reducing calcium absorption.
I personally struggled with high oxalates which caused me to suffer from IC pain. I realized that adding a calcium supplement to my daily regime reduced the pain significantly as calcium binds with oxalates.
Low Calcium Symptoms
According to University Health Daily News, some symptoms include:
- Heart issues and/or chest pain
- Muscle cramping and/or spasms
- Numbness around the mouth
- Difficulty swallowing
- Course hair
- Muscle weakness
- Brittle nails
- Dry itchy skin
- Tooth decay
- Osteoporosis symptoms (backache; a gradual loss of height and an accompanying stooped posture; fractures of the spine, wrist, or hip)
Foods that can increase Calcium:
So, how do we address food when it comes to calcium? Milk is by far the highest calcium ratio food source and lactose helps calcium absorb but that does most people no good as they cannot tolerate milk. We can look at green leafy vegetables but they tend to be high in oxalates causing more issues. Nuts could be an alternative but what do you do if you are allergic plus the fact that nuts contain higher levels of phosphorus than we may want.
Better solutions may be foods such as cauliflower, broccoli, peas and beans such as pinto, aszuki and soybeans. Molasses, figs raisins and apricots are also good options.
Supplements to increase Calcium:
Calcium absorption also becomes less efficient as we age and taking a a supplement for this may be necessary. Calcium aspartate and citrate will need less vitamin D3 to absorb, however calcium lactate and carbonate will need more. It is important to work with someone who can advise you which form is best and also how much vitamin D you would require. You will also want to make sure that you are balancing calcium with magnesium and ensure that you take vitamin K2 as well. Vitamin K2 aids in directing and works synergistically with the others. I recommend looking at CanPrev brand D3+K2 – Organic Coconut Oil Base Softgels.
Talk with your doctor about testing your calcium and if you would benefit from a supplement.
Before you begin throwing all these vitamins into your mix, you will want to address stomach acidity and by that look at the level of hydrochloric acid being produced. Hydrochloric acid is very important in digestion and aids in absorbing calcium. I am a fan of Thorne – Betaine HCL & Pepsin. Main absorption of calcium happens in the duodenum as it is more acidic. Calcium is fantastic in helping b12 absorb properly but watch out because to much calcium can deplete zinc, iron and mangenese.
I recommend that if you do start a supplement to boost calcium, that you order a calcium/magnesium combination or add a magnesium as the two work together.