Calcium is next in our series A to Zinc and is probably the most commonly taken mineral. Calcium is also the most abundant mineral in the body and although most people associate it with supporting strong bones and teeth, calcium for bones is hugely important – but it’s also needed for so much more.
Calcium is also required for muscle contraction, blood vessel contraction/expansion, secretion of hormones and enzymes, and sending messages through the nervous system. About 99% of your total body calcium is stored in bones and the remaining 1% is found throughout the body in muscle, cellular fluids and blood. It’s about 2% of your total body weight. If you don’t have a calcium-rich diet, your body will continue to extract calcium stored in your bones to meet your active daily needs.
Besides providing structure, the bones are a bank for minerals. One reason osteoporosis occurs is that minerals are being withdrawn from this bank, and paid out to fill the cellular needs of the rest of your body. When calcium (and other minerals) are removed from bones, they become more porous. If you don’t replace the minerals, your body can’t replenish the reserves in that bank leaving tiny gaps (“osteo” for bones, “porosis” meaning full of holes).
Consuming insufficient calcium, poor calcium absorption, and increased calcium usage (through more physical activity, or less rest) all contribute to lower total calcium and minerals stored in your bones.
So, what do you do? If you’re not already eating a calcium-rich diet – which includes yogurt, broccoli, dark green leafy vegetables, soy foods, orange juice, sesame seeds or tahini, etc. – then that’s a place to start. Even with a calcium-rich diet, you may not be absorbing enough calcium. This is where a calcium supplement can help make up the difference. But, not all calcium supplements are created equally.
The absorption of calcium is affected by many factors. First is the form of calcium. Calcium carbonate (e.g., antacids or oyster shell) is poorly absorbed. Calcium citrate (e.g., Citracal®) is better, but calcium hydroxyapatite, known as MCHC (microcrystalline hydroxyapatite concentrate) is best. It contains calcium and phosphorus in the identical ratio formed in your own body (2:1 ratio) plus other trace minerals. Dr. James Brodsky recommends this type of calcium because it saves your body the step of trying to separate and convert elemental calcium into usable calcium for your bones.
So what other minerals get stored in your bones besides calcium? They include: magnesium, phosphorus, strontium, zinc, boron, manganese, copper and silica. (We will be looking at these in this series.) There are also some important vitamins that go into rebuilding bone, including vitamins C, D and K. Cartilage is also involved in bone building, and can be supported with supplemental chondroitin.
To help you make the right calcium choice, contact us.
Photo from here, with thanks.