Calcium

Calcium

Calcium is the most plentiful element in the body, with most in the bones, teeth and nerves. Sadly, most people do not ingest nearly enough bioavailable calcium because when dairy products are pasteurized and homogenized, the calcium they contain is made less available to the body. Also, few other foods contain much calcium today.

Calcium is the primary structural mineral in the body, meaning it allows us to stand upright by giving strength to our bones. However,  it has many other functions as well.

THE FUNCTIONS OF CALCIUM IN THE BODY

Calcium helps regulate cell permeability, is critical for maintenance of acid-base balance and assists many other body activities as well. These include male and female hormone secretion, cell division and osmotic balance. It stabilizes cell membranes, helps muscles relax and slows nerve transmission and the heart rate. Calcium also helps prevent fluid loss from cells and from the blood.

Calcium inhibits thyroid-releasing hormone and increases insulin secretion. It inhibits the sympathetic nervous system. It is required for phosphorus metabolism and energy production in the krebs cycle.

Calcium is also important as a detoxifier, preventing the uptake of lead and cadmium. Blood clotting and fat digestion depend on calcium. Calcium is extremely alkaline-forming and helps maintain the pH balance of the blood.

SYMPTOMS OF CALCIUM IMBALANCE

Deficiency Symptoms. These may include osteoporosis, rickets, non-union of fractures, tooth decay, Hair loss and insomnia. Teeth, fingers and other bones may be misshapen. Posture can be poor and legs bowed. Other symptoms are muscle cramps, irritability, hyperkinesis, hyperacidity, bruising, high blood pressure, fight-or-flight reactions, fast oxidation, lead and cadmium toxicity, tetany and cancer.

Toxicity Symptoms. Calcium toxicity symptoms may include fatigue, depression, defensiveness, muscle weakness, pain, arteriosclerosis, arthritis, kidney stones and gallstones. Others are bone spurs, rigidity, slow metabolism, constipation, social withdrawal and spondylitis (rigidity and inflammation of the spine).

Biounavailable Calcium. In many instances, calcium is biounavailable. This means it is present, but cannot be used properly. This condition causes symptoms of deficiency and excess at the same time.

CALCIUM SYNERGISTS

Magnesium helps keep calcium in solution. Sources are nuts, seeds, kelp, molasses and yeast. Silica is another calcium synergist. It may be transmuted into calcium according to Dr. Louis Kervan, author of Biological Transmutations. Chlorine, hydrochloric acid in the stomach and adequate protein in the diet are also required for calcium utilization.

Potassium. This is another potent calcium synergist, although in high quantity it can become an antagonist by dissolving calcium from the bones and elsewhere.

Potassium is absolutely critical for calcium metabolism in many enzymes. In fact, a recent study found that potassium is required for bone strength or density. (Jehle, S., et al., Partial neutralization of the acidogenic Western diet with potassium citrate increases bone mass in women with osteopenia, J Am SocNephrol. 2006;17:3212.)

Copper is required to fix calcium in the bones and helps raise the tissue calcium level. Many people have biologically unavailable copper which causes their calcium problems.

Iodine is required for thyroid activity. Low thyroid activity is associated with biounavailable calcium and calcium deposition in the soft tissues. The best sources of iodine are fish and sea vegetables like kelp or dulse. Iodized salt is not as good a source. Boron apparently improves adrenal gland activity, which makes copper more available. Boron is found in nuts, beans, leafy greens and bone extracts.

Vitamins A and D are important for calcium utilization and are commonly deficient. Vitamin D is only found in enriched milk, fish oils and from sun exposure.  Vitamin A is only found in fish oils and meats.  Beta carotene must be converted to vitamin A. Low thyroid activity impairs the conversion. We always recommend vitamin A, not beta carotene.

Adequate adrenal hormones levels are also essential for proper calcium metabolism. Hormone replacement therapy, however, is not the best or only way to improve hormone production. Usually, a nutritional balancing program will easily improve natural hormone production.

CALCIUM ANTAGONISTS

Sugar upsets the calcium/phosphorus ratio in the blood more than any other single factor, according to researcher Dr. Melvin Page. It also stresses the adrenal glands and upsets the hormone balance which affects calcium metabolism.

Lead and cadmium antagonize and replace calcium in the bones and elsewhere. Hidden lead toxicity, for example, is an important cause of weak bones and osteoporosis. Tests for toxic metals may not reveal it when it is deeply embedded within the bones. A hair analysis may reveal it later as it comes out of the body through the hair and other routes.

Excessive fluoride replaces calcium in the bones, causing them to become brittle and weak. Sources are fluoridated tap water, some mineral waters, foods contaminated with fluorides from the soil and foods processed with fluoridated water like reconstituted fruit juices and soda pop. Some foods are naturally high in fluorides like tea. Drinking fluoridated water or consuming products processed with fluoridated water is a cause of osteoporosis.

Excess phosphorus binds calcium and impairs its absorption from the intestines. Sources are soda pop and diets very high in animal protein. Phytates found in high grain diets, soy and other beans bind calcium preventing its absorption. Excessive oxalic acid found in spinach, cranberries, rhubarb and tea can interfere with calcium utilization, but only if eaten in large quantities. Low stomach acid and low protein diets impair calcium utilization.

TESTING FOR CALCIUM IMBALANCE

Serum Calcium. Calcium tests in the blood are often of little value. The body robs the bones to keep the blood level in a narrow range. A bone density test is therefore the best, but it too has flaws discussed below. Also, in a healthy person, excess calcium is quickly moved from the blood into the tissues.

Urine tests are a little better, offering a way to measure how much calcium one is excreting.  However, they are subject to daily variations due to stress, hormonal factors and others.

X-rays are helpful to assess bone density. However, osteoporotic changes are a very late indicator of calcium imbalance. Also, osteoporosis can be due to other imbalances besides calcium. The bones require boron, magnesium, manganese, zinc, copper, phosphorus and other nutrients in addition to calcium. Low bone density does not necessarily indicate a greater need for calcium. A normal bone density test does not necessarily mean one's intake is sufficient.

Hair mineral analysis. hair mineral testing is superb to evaluate many aspects of calcium metabolism in the body. Among these are the degree of biounavailable calciumc, deficiency states, calcium loss into the tissues and others. Be aware Hair must not be washed at the laboratory for accurate hair calcium readings. The level of calcium in the hair tissue can vary from about 7 or 8 mg% to over 1000 mg%.

Interpretation of hair tests. Essentially, the tissues such as the hair become depleted long before blood tests or x-rays reveal a deficiency. However, one must understand that as calcium is depleted the reading in the hair may actually increase due to loss of calcium into the tissues. In the state called fast oxidation or an alarm stage of stress, generally the hair tissue calcium will be low, or at least low relative to sodium and potassium. This is due to excessive thyroid activity which lowers tissue calcium.

In the state called slow oxidation, often the hair calcium level will be very high due to calcium precipitation into the soft tissues of the body. In this case, calcium becomes biounavailable. That is, an excess occurs in the tissues but it is not available to the body. It becomes essentially a toxic mineral, causing calcium deposits in the joints, arteries, kidneys, brain and elsewhere.

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