The Importance of Calcium
Calcium is the most common mineral in the body. Although we know that It is necessary for bone formation, there are many other important body functions it helps. Here are some of them:
- Needed for blood clotting.
- It stabilizes blood pressure.
- Helps normal brain function
- Critical for cell communication
- Helps insulin open cells to glucose
- Facilitates muscle cells contraction
Almost all of our calcium is stored in the bones and teeth. When young, a lot of calcium is used for bone formation, which peaks at about 30. If we do not get enough calcium from our diet, the body will “steal” calcium that is stored in bones to meet the body’s demands.
There is a lot of hype about getting adequate calcium, however in spite of all the calcium the typical American consumes, our nation has a higher rate of hip fractures and more people that suffer from osteoporosis, than other countries. Author of the best selling book, Eat to Live, Dr. Fuhrman, states that the problem is not how much calcium we consume, but how much we excrete.
To better understand this, we must comprehend the negative calcium balance. Here is an example of calcium balance:
Person A (Negative)
Ingested: 1,000 mg
Absorbed: 300 mg
Excreted in urine: 350 mg
Retained: -50 mg
Person B (Positive)
Ingested: 500 mg
Absorbed: 200 mg
Excreted in urine: 100 mg
Retained: 100 mg
In this example, Person A has a negative calcium balance, whereas Person B has a positive balance, even though Person A took more calcium. The important issue is not so much how much calcium we ingest, but how much we are absorbing and how much is being excreted. When there is more calcium excreted than absorbed in any 24 hour period, in time the result will be bone loss.
LOSS of Calcium
Now let us consider some factors that contribute to excessive urinary calcium excretion. Here are the main offenders:
- Animal protein
- Refined sugar
- Vitamin A supplements
- Aluminum containing antacids
- Drugs, such as steroids, antibiotics, thyroid hormone
There are two important matters to adequately using the Calcium in our body. First, we must minimize the offenders. As you can see, several of the above offenders are a part of many people’s everyday life.
The second matter of importance is to use a good source of calcium. According to Dr. Fuhrman, the best sources of calcium are plant based. Some of the highest food sources are: bok choy, tofu, kale, all greens, sesame seeds, broccoli, cucumber, almonds, carrots, flaxseed. Herbs that are high are oatstraw, horsetail, nettle, and comfrey.
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