Men turn 40 and they have to drop their pants for the doctor. Women turn 50 and the fear is we fall and break into a million pieces. Calcium is the go-to supplement but there’s more to bone health than just calcium.
Here’s a video which explains the somewhat dubious relationship between calcium and osteoporosis and what you can do to make any calcium intake more efficient. Ladies, calcium and bone health
Please excuse all the ummms and arghhhs, it was a few minutes of thinking out loud which I hope you find useful.
A major mineral usually linked to bone health, but it also plays a major role in cell communication aka “Intracellular communication” or how cells talk to one another. There is calcium inside and outside of the cell and when there is too little outside of the cell, the calcium inside of the cell gets stuck. Calcium to be effective has to be able to move, it has to be transported to tissue and bone. Taking a calcium supplement is not enough to allow for this transportation and when this mineral gets trapped inside the cell it can lead to some serious issues that we have all heard about.
Hypertension (high blood pressure) – we all know how dangerous this is. Known as the ‘Silent Killer.” Calcium channel blockers are often prescribed for hypertension. Trapped calcium being a major precursor for this condition
Hardening of the Arteries
Cancer – calcium helps to control cell regeneration. Cells are meant to live and die and when they grow without regulation the risk of cancer can increase.
Soft Tissue Calcium – we know this as arthritis, bursitis, kidney stones, gallstones etc
Calcium needs to be mobilized and for this, we rely on fat soluble vitamins, essential fatty acids, and bile.
VITAMIN D3 – if you are low in vitamin D3 the calcium can get stuck inside of the cell. Sunshine is the most fun way of getting vitamin D, although remember that the skin on your face, neck, and arms is too thin to really absorb too much. So grab a belly shirt and some shorts and get some rays. Or, you can take a D3 supplement (yes, the shrink shop sells D3). Prolonged stress can also deplete you of vitamin D3..
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin (the fat soluble vitamins are D K E A) and it is bile that breaks down fat. If you are low on bile it’s going to be tough to absorb D3 and it stays stuck in the cell. If you have had your gallbladder removed, know you have an issue with bile, have frequent stomach bloating or right shoulder pain, bile might be an issue. D3 (about 10,000 ius per day) will get calcium into the blood but now you need something to drive it into the tissue and bone
K2 – regulates calcium and pushes it into the bone. K2 helps keep the arteries elastic and clears soft tissue calcium. K2 is really good for osteoporosis and calcium really should not be suggested without also suggesting K2. You get K2 from anything grass-fed (not grain fed) or in supplement form (The Shrink Shop does not sell K2 :() 100mcg per day will clean up the calcium in the arteries and deliver it to the tissue.
OMEGA 3 FATTY ACIDS – The essential fatty acids found in Omega 3 fatty acids aid in the transportation of calcium and so does Apple Cider Vinegar.
We take Apple Cider Vinegar for inflammation, high blood pressure and much more, but how does it work?
When the blood becomes too alkaline it becomes hard to deliver calcium, this is especially problematic for the elderly who might have less stomach acid helping with digestion. Talking a teaspoon or so of apple cider vinegar increases acid available to transport the calcium which means less is stuck in the cell which reduces hypertension, inflammation etc. Calcium is the piece of the puzzle that makes the whole puzzle make sense but taking calcium by itself is not the answer.
MAGNESIUM – we often pair calcium with magnesium because if we have low magnesium it yet again, keeps calcium from moving outside of the cell. Magnesium is readily available is fruits, vegetables and in supplement form
I’m never going to tell yo not to take your daily calcium supplement but I will suggest that if you do take it on a regular basis you really must take Vitamin D3, Omega 3 fatty acids, K2 and Magnesium. Also, make sure you take the right kind of calcium. Calcium carbonate is popular and cheap, but don’t take it. Calcium citrate is more expensive and much more bioavailable. There are a few things worth spending money on, an upgrade on your long-haul flight, great sheets, and quality supplements.
TOO MUCH CALCIUM?
We are taught to believe that calcium is good for the bones so that more is better. One thing we should know by now is that even if something is good for us, an excess of anything rarely is.
As well as high blood pressure, too much calcium or calcium that cant be mobilized can result in anxiety, insomnia, bone pain (ironic), constipation and those toe cramps you might get at night.
But at least its good for strong bones right? Not so fast …
The RDA for Calcium in the US is 1200mg but most of the world gets less than 500mg and most of the world doesnt drink cows milk. If you go back to a simpler time when we all did manual labor and ate off the land osteoporosis was pretty much unheard of. We know that resistance training, be it with weights, bodyweight or good ol manual labor, strengthens bones and prevents osteoporosis and that should be the very first recommendation for ladies hitting the midpoint of life. Before you pop a pill or guzzle a pint of milk that your stomach may not thank you for, get out for a hike, pick up a weight, carry your groceries – stay active and strong.
In a video by Dr Jason Fung its entertaining to hear him say that of the 5676 mammals on this planet, only one species drinks milk past weaning and that same species is the one that suffers from osteoporosis. Yes, that would be superior (?) human race.
To continue this illustration …
Japanese women get less than 400 mg of calcium a day and have 2.5 times lower the rate of osteoporotic fractures.
African Banu ladies get less than 350 mg of calcium per day and have on average 10 babies each and it’s rare to see any of them suffering from weak bones.
We think that milk is the best source of calcium but in Hong Kong when the daily intake of milk doubled, the following decade the rate of osteoporosis tripled, Virtually the same thing happened in Greece
And then you have the native Eskimos who outdo us all with an average daily calcium consumption of 2000 mg and yet they have the highest rate of osteoporosis.
IT MIGHT BE THE SOURCE
Milk would score top if the Jeopardy question were to ask the best source of calcium, but that is not the case and it might indeed be the problem.
For 100 calories of milk, you will get 190mg of calcium
100 calories of watercress will give you 800 mg, arugula 1300 mg! Spinach 450mg and broccoli still comes in at over double with 387 mg
After being breastfed we move on to cows milk and cows milk has 3x the protein of breast milk. There is a very strong argument that calcium from animal protein may be the issue and it might even be the problem because it can cause an excess to be excreted in the urine. Cows milk is intended to make a calve gain a lot of weight in a short space of time and once it’s grown the young cow doesnt drink milk again.
I drink milk and I love cream and I’m not giving them up anytime soon. I’m very fortunate that I can enjoy all dairy with no issue, but if its calcium I seek I’m going to reach for the blender to make a nasty green shake.
WHAT TO DO?
Studies show us time and again that supplementing calcium alone is not the answer for bone health, so what can we do?
- Men and women alike, we have to stay active and we have to stay strong. Unlike the generation past, now it is fashionable to be strong and have muscles past your shoulders but if lifting weight isn’t your thing then get some active lifestyle habits. Fire your gardener, bathe your own dog and load your own groceries, To get strong bones get strong lifestyle habits.
- Calcium citrate, not the cheap calcium carbonate
- Eat, drink, inhale you green veggies
- Take daily Vitamin D3, Omega 3 Fatty acids, Magnesium, and K2 – you must provide the transporters to mobilize the calcium.
- If you have bile issues or have had your gallbladder removed, talk to your doctor about supplementing with bile. Bile breaks down the transporters so that they can be used to move calcium
- Take apple cider vinegar, especially for the elderly or those with poor stomach acid production
- Try to reduce stress, probably the hardest of all to do but cortisol (stress hormone) can deplete Vitamin D and compromise stomach acid production
AS we enter and deal with middle age and beyond I feel we become more proactive and more responsible for our own health, but often our best intentions can take us on the wrong path. I do hope this helps to explain calcium and its relationship to bone health and how simply pounding some pills won’t give us the benefits we hope for.
My next blog is going to discuss another way our best intentions may be moving us backward not forwards. As we get older, building muscle becomes more difficult and gaining fat becomes a lot easier. The way we time our carbohydrate intake is crucial if we want to gain muscle and lose fat. We’re told that to achieve both at the same time is impossible, I’m here to tell you that it is not and that I have done it with clients dozens of times. Subscribe for the next blog post on how to build muscle and lose fat after 40. I will post it within the week.
If you have any questions you can contact me at email@example.com
I train people at my private gym in Boise Idaho and I work with people online all over the world via Whatsapp, FB, and Skype www.theshrinkshop.com
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