Of the calcium, 99% is stored in the bones with the balance being stored in the body fluids. In the bones, it not only acts to maintain a strong skeletal structure but also serves as attachment points for the tendons of the muscles. The calcium in the body fluids circulates as iodized calcium which helps to regulate muscle contraction, blood clotting, transmission of nerve impulses, the secretion of hormones and the activation of some enzyme reactions.
Calcium by itself cannot be absorbed by the body. It needs other nutrients to enable that to happen. Those nutrients include magnesium, phosphorus, vitamins A, C and D. An example of this is magnesium. Magnesium stimulates the production of a hormone called calcitonin. This hormone is what keeps the calcium in the bones and out of the soft tissue. It is believed that many forms of arthritis are due to an increase of calcium in the body fluids and a lack of calcium in the bones[i]. Another example is the need for Vitamin D. Typically we absorb about 25% of the calcium we ingest. Vitamin D helps to make the calcium-binding protein which is needed in order for us to absorb that 25%. So as you can see, it is a bit more complex than we think.
To take this a step further, the 1% of calcium in the body fluids always remains the same. If we are not consuming enough calcium through our diet, the body will actually take the calcium out of the bones to maintain that appropriate level in the fluids. This process is silent, meaning we might actually not know this is happening. Unfortunately as we age however, this can show up as osteoporosis.
With all of this said, it is important to make sure we are getting an adequate amount of calcium and its carriers in our diet. The average adult should consume between 1,000 – 1,200 milligrams of calcium daily[ii]. This may sound like a lot but it really isn’t! Let us take a look at what foods actually contain high amounts of calcium.
Of course the dairy industry wants you to believe that their source of calcium is the best. Although cheese and milk do contain a high amount of calcium, often people are intolerant to dairy. This can be due to being lactose intolerant, a deficiency in the enzyme that breaks down the lactose in the milk, or because high dairy diets can cause heavy congestion in some people.
Personally I do ingest dairy but try to focus on the use of goat or sheep products rather than cow. Goat and sheep tend to graze rather than be grain fed. Grazing increases the nutrient value of the milk as the animals are ingesting more nutrients from the plants. In addition, the fat molecules of the milk from these types of animals are smaller, thus easier to digest. They are also lower in fat.
In addition to dairy there are some fantastic sources of calcium. Below is a list of some of the best:
- Dried seaweeds such as wakame, kombu, kelp, hijiki, and arame
- Beans such as soy, garbanzo, mung, aduki, black and lima
- Nuts and seeds such as almonds, sesame, cashew, and filbert
- Whole grains such as buckwheat, millet, amaranth, and rye
Of course my favorite source is GREEN VEGETABLES! Leafy green vegetables not only contain a good amount of calcium but they also contain lots of chlorophyll. In the center of the chlorophyll molecule is found magnesium. In addition, chlorophyll is a great source of phosphorus, vitamins A and C. How can there be a better way of getting your calcium and all its carriers than eating green vegetables?
Having said all that, let us look at some of the best sources of vegetables for calcium:
- Mustard greens
- Turnip greens
- Bok Choy
We tend to think of spinach and chard as great sources of calcium as well but surprisingly they are not. Although they contain a lot of calcium, they also contain oxalic acid. This substance binds chemically with the calcium thus preventing it from being absorbed. Now this is not to say that these vegetables are not chocked full of other nutrients, they are! Just don’t use them as a source of calcium.
So start playing around with ways in which you can increase the amount of calcium in your diet. Chances are you might be able to take in much more than you think. This month’s recipe offers you a tasty salad that is high in calcium. Check it out!
[i] Paul Pitchford, Healing With Whole Foods
[ii] Understanding Normal and Clinical Nutrition, Seventh Edition
8 thoughts on “May Health Tip – Calcium”
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I loved the way the article was written so plainly. It was easy to understand. I liked it. I also enjoyed your personal comments on what you do. Since I have osteopenia, this is very good to know that you can get calcium in other ways than dairy. Also, I wondered why goat cheese was better than other cheeses. Now I know. Thanks for the update. Love, Sherilyn
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Hi Julie, great info. I just recently spoke at a business networking meeting about the need for minerals and used Calcium as an example. I thought you might find this info educational as well. 🙂
Q. WHAT IS A MINERAL?
A. An inorganic element, such as calcium, iron, potassium, sodium, or zinc, that is
essential to the nutrition of humans, animals, and plants.
Q. What is the difference between inorganic vs. organic minerals?
A. Please understand these facts:
1. Minerals are inorganic, as they exist naturally in the soil and water.
2. Minerals are organic, as they exist in plants and animals.
3. Only plants can transform inorganic minerals into organic minerals.
4. Animals must eat plants or plant-eating animals to obtain their organic minerals.
5. Inorganic minerals are useless and injurious to the animal organism. (That’s us!)
How the Confusion Began:
Because inorganic minerals and organic minerals have the same chemical compositions, the early nutritionists confused them. The mineral, iron, in the bloodstream has the same chemical composition as the mineral, iron, in a nail—iron is iron, after all. However, these nutritionists incorrectly reasoned that there were no other differences between these two forms of iron. As a consequence, there actually were iron mineral supplements that consisted of surplus powdered nails.
Perhaps you have heard the expression, “mad enough to chew nails.” In this case, mad or unbalanced is certainly the correct word.
Chemically, it is true that iron in the bloodstream and iron in nails are the same and that calcium in rocks (known as dolomite) is identical to calcium in the bones.
However, it is a grave error to believe that the body can digest and assimilate and utilize powdered nails and crushed rocks.
This is why you must be very careful about any mineral supplement you take. Calcium supplements come mostly in pill form and largely consist of an inorganic form of
Eating leafy green vegetables such as collard greens, spinach and broccoli are considered a good source of plant based Calcium but, due to the mineral deficiency of our farm soils the average person falls well short of getting enough Calcium through their diet.
Why are minerals important?
Minerals are the spark plugs of life because they are required to activate thousands of enzyme reactions within the body. In a way they are more important than vitamins since plants manufacture vitamins but minerals must be obtained from the soil. If the mineral is not in the soil, it cannot possibly be in the plant. Since our very existence is dependent upon the body’s ability to utilize minerals because minerals activate enzymes and enzymes control all the chemical reactions that take place in a living system, i.e. our bodies.
Health Problems From Lack Of Minerals
According to the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), Americans typically lack a sufficient amount of the minerals calcium, magnesium, potassium and the vitamins A, C, D and E needed to maintain good health.
Mild calcium deficiencies can cause heart palpitations, insomnia, and irritability.
Without adequate minerals, research has shown that people develop chronic life threatening diseases like; diabetes, heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, macular degeneration, bone loss, and dementia.
Key Minerals We Need Daily
List of Minerals Believed to be Essential to Humans and Their Roles in the Body:
Mineral Roles in the Body
boron promotes healthy bones, teeth; metabolism of other minerals
calcium blood clotting, intracellular signaling, muscle contraction
chromium insulin and glucose tolerance responses
cobalt: contained in vitamin B12
copper: formation of hemoglobin; absorption and use of iron; skin, hair pigmentation
fluoride: prevents dental carries; crystalline structure of bones and teeth
iodine: contained in hormones thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3).
iron: contained in cytochromes , myoglobin, haemoglobin.
magnesium: mineral present mainly in the bones; maintains electrical potential in nerve and muscle cells
phosphorus: contained in bones, teeth; role in energy metabolism
potassium: role in fluid and electrolyte balance; heart muscle activity; metabolism and protein synthesis
selenium: proper heart function; possibly prevents certain cancers
sodium: present in extracellular fluid
sulphur: energy metabolism, enzyme function, and detoxification
zinc: contained in enzymes, transcription factors
Through the process of photosynthesis, both land based plants and sea veggies like the ones found in Body Balance have taken in the inorganic minerals and made them organic, but due to the mineral depletion in our land based farming soils, the sea veggies are the highest source of organic minerals on the planet.
OsteOmegaCare is a liquid calcium/mineral supplement that “chelates” inorganic calcium carbonate into a highly absorbable organic form of Calcium by the addition of Orotic Acid making Calcium orotate. (see below)
“Chelated” minerals, those bonded with food acids, are known to be better absorbed in the human body as they are recognized as food substances.
Organic Calcium Forms:
-Calcium amino acid chelates has 65-80% absorption rates. They are fairly expensive and not as easily found.
-Calcium ascorbate gives you the benefit of Vitamin C as the other part of the molecule sans the acidity of the vitamin. It’s both expensive and hard to find.
-Calcium aspartate is the second best absorbed – 85% – of the commercially available types of calcium. Along with calcium orotate, it is the hardest to find.
-Calcium citrate is the most recommended by doctors, because it is the most easily absorbed. Unfortunately, it contains only about 21% of elemental calcium – you have to take more tablets to get enough calcium.
-Calcium gluconate and calcium lactate contain about 15% elemental calcium, similar to citrate in terms of absorbability and lack of side effects. But these cost more – as much as 3 to 10 more than the cost of calcium citrate
-Calcium orotate is the best absorbed of the commercially available types of calcium with 90-95% absorbent rate.
Thanks for your posting Julie,
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I heard Ionic fizz calcium plus, is the best calcium you can take for absorption and bone support. Are you familiar with it? Janet Evans
Hi Janet- My apologies for the delay in response. I cannot find much on this form of calcium so do not know about absorption! (I also checked with other practitioners and they are not familiar either.) How did you learn about it?