Dr. Holly
Dr. Holly
Dr. Holly

The authorities have been telling us for ages that we need more calcium.  Why?  The focus is usually on “Osteoporosis” – when the bones become less dense and more likely to break.

However, calcium is important for a number of functions in the body:

  • Required for strong bones – the stronger the bone/tooth in childhood, the stronger it will be throughout life; in addition, the more weight bearing exercise we do in our young adulthood, the stronger our bones will be throughout life
  • Required for healthy teeth – calcium is necessary for strong tooth enamel
  • During adulthood we have periods we need more calcium – during pregnancy, lactation, healing from wounds or surgery
  • Required by the neurons to release neurotransmitters
  • Required by the muscles to contract – muscles will often twitch if there is an insufficient supply of calcium
    • Magnesium is involves in muscle relaxation
    • So we need a healthy balance of both
  • One particular muscle that requires significant calcium levels is the heart
  • Required for proper blood clotting

How does the body regulate the required levels of calcium?

  • First place for regulation starts in the gut – the intestines will absorb less if you have too much
  • The parathyroids monitor the levels of calcium in the blood:
    • If there is too much they send out a hormone to tell the bones to stop turning over
    • In addition, Vit D is stimulated and provokes the gut to absorb more calcium
    • If there is too little the parathyroids send out the “parathyroid hormone” which will:
      • Provoke bones to release more calcium; too much release will lead to osteoporosis
      • Provoke the kidneys to absorb more calcium
      • Provokes the intestines to absorb more calcium

We can lose our required calcium levels because of:

  • Problems with the parathyroid glands (which regulate calcium levels):
    • Removal
    • Damage (can be caused by thyroid surgery)
  • Diet:    Low levels of magnesium
    • Low levels of Vitamin D
  • Drugs – chemotherapy
  • Kidney disorders

The problem with too much calcium:

  • Interferes with the absorption of phosphorus & competes with other minerals important for strong bones
  • Cardiovascular disease & ischemic heart disease, strokes and heart attacks
  • Because calcium travels in the blood, we can get calcium deposits almost anywhere in the body:
    • Arteries – if the plaque ruptures, a blood clot can form & cause a heart attack
    • Joints/tendons – knee joints & rotator cuff tendons
    • Brain – called cranial calcification
    • Brest tissue – predominantly in women
    • Kidney – may be expressed as kidney stones (calcium oxalate stones)
  • Calcium deposits may occur because of:
    • Injury or surgery
    • Infection
    • Radiation or shock wave treatment (to break up stones)
    • Autoimmune disorders

So how do we know whether we are taking too little or too much? 

  • Know what the symptoms can be
    1. Numbness in fingers and toes
    2. Muscle cramps
    3. Convulsions
    4. Fatigue
    5. Loss of appetite
    6. Irregular heart rhythms
  • Make sure you are eating foods that are a good source of calcium
    1. Green leafy vegetables: watercress, kale, dandelion & turnip  greens, arugula, collards
    2. Vegetables: broccoli, bok choy (made sure it is NOT grown in China), green beans
    3. Dairy: low fat cheese, low fat milk & yogurt
    4. Fish: canned fish in particular (sardines, salmon, anchovies, shrimp)
    5. Nuts: almonds

Remember, when you get your nutrients in a WHOLE, ORGANIC, NON-GMO real food – you also get the other nutrients required to metabolize and absorb the given compound you are interested in.

Here’s to your health!

For more information, contact: Dr Holly at holly@choicesunlimited.ca
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