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Mineral Spotlight: All about Calcium
Calcium is a mineral that tends to get a bad rap- but in reality it’s calcium supplements that we should be worried about. Real calcium from FOOD that is balanced with other nutrients is essential for health. Everything needs to be in balance!
The Role of Calcium in the Body
This is the most abundant mineral in the body- 99% should be found in the bone. The 1% not in the bones is needed for nerve transmission, blood pressure regulation, iron metabolism, proper cell division, plus health skin and teeth. There is an increased need for calcium during pregnancy, lactation, and adolescence.
It is possible to have high tissue calcium as well as bio-UN-available calcium. We need magnesium and potassium to keep calcium in proper balance. There are 2 hormones involved with calcium metabolism: calcitonin and the parathyroid hormones. Excess vitamin D makes us absorb too much calcium. Boron helps with the proper utilization of both calcium and vitamin D.
Calcium needs co-factors for proper absorption- this is why taking it (and any other nutrient) in isolation makes no sense. We truly need a lot for proper calcium regulation: magnesium, sodium, potassium, boron, silica, and phosphorus especially.
Calcium is one of the most misunderstood minerals thanks to the supplementing craze over the last decade or so. Supplementation of calcium can have some pretty serious side effects, so people are automatically jumping to thinking that calcium is bad. It just needs to be balanced!
Calcium deficiency signs:
- Bones issues
- Brittle nails
- Diminished nerve function
Recommended amount for most adults: 1000 mg a day
- Blackstrap molasses, 1 tbsp: ~100mg
- Yogurt (grass-fed), 1 cup: 300mg
- Nettle infusions: 300mg per cup (nettles also have almost ALL of the main co-factors needed for calcium absorption!)
- Collard Greens, 1 cup: 300mg
- More Calcium Rich Foods
Supplementing with calcium is one of the most common ways that a calcium excess would occur. Calcium supplementation is being linked to heart disease, arthritis, crippling PMS, thyroid disorders, renal failure, and countless other ailments. (source) You can get PLENTY of calcium from food, no matter what your diet entails- especially when you realize that the co-factors matter JUST as much as the calcium itself.
Symptoms of a calcium excess:
- Chronic pain
- Joint and muscle pain
- Apathy/emotional numbness
When calcium builds up too much in the soft tissue, we can get what is called a “calcium shell”, which is something that will only show up on an HTMA test. A calcium shell can occur for a few big reasons:
- Over-Supplementation of calcium. It’s not always about over-consumption in foods though- nearly everyone that I see with a calcium shell has actually been dairy free for a long time!
- Stress can make us burn through sodium and potassium, which are crucial for keeping calcium in the bones where it belongs. The most stressed we get, the lower our sodium and potassium get, which can make us retain more calcium. This continues to further slow down our oxidation rate (metabolism) until we stop this cycle- stop the stress, work on adrenal health, and start getting sodium and potassium intake better.
- Gut absorption issues are another big cause of calcium issues. We need stomach acid to break down and utilize protein, which will affect our phosphorus levels. We need phosphorus to keep calcium balanced as well. So with gut issues we can experience a slowing down of our overall metabolic rate.
- Most people are dealing with BOTH the second and third issues here too!
HTMA is the only test that will show you exactly what is going on with your main minerals and what you need to do to properly balance calcium levels. You can read all about HTMA here!