Healthy Bones Are Not Just About Calcium


Expert’s Name: Dr. Sarah Lobisco, ND

Believe it or not there is such a thing as getting too much calcium. It can clogarteries, cause bunions, bone spurs, and kidney and gallbladder stones. Excessive calcium intake can also cause an imbalance of other vitamins and minerals in the body.

According to Dr. Brown, a calcium expert, the reason that calciumrecommendations are so high for American women is due to the fact that Americans excrete more of it than other cultures. These high excretion rates are due to our processed food diets, high consumption of caffeine, increased stress responses, and low omega fatty acid consumption. All of these factors not only affect excretion but optimal absorption as well.

Vitamin D, Magnesium, Vitamin K, Vitamin A, Vitamin B6, Phosphorus, and Potassium all play a role in the absorption of calcium in the body.

When using a calcium supplement, the form of calcium present in the supplement determines absorption. So, in addition to looking for calcium co-factors, also analyze the form of calcium you are taking. According to Dr. Brown:

  • Calcium citrate is a highly absorbable calcium compound. This form does not require the hydrochloric acid (HCl) in the stomach to be absorbed. Thus, calciumcitrate is very readily absorbed, or bioavailable, and a good choice for people with low stomach acid. (I would add in calcium lactate as another good option as it has to go through less biochemical pathways to form calcium bicarbonate, the active form in the blood).
  • Calcium ascorbate and calcium carbonate are generally not as easily absorbedas the citrate forms if HCl is low. However, they are absorbed quite readily when taken with food. (Here again, I’d like to add that calcium carbonate is very similar in structure to limestone.
  • Generally speaking, all types of calcium are absorbed more easily if taken with meals, no matter what form you choose.

Lifestyle and dietary factors such as weight bearing exercises and whole food supplementation are also great ways to strengthen your bones and assist in the absorption of calcium. Using whole foods takes a lot of guesswork out of wondering what factors are and aren’t present. Digestive health and hormonal health should also be assessed by a qualified health care professional, as these determine absorption of the key minerals needed for strong bones. “You are what you eat” is not 100% true, it’s more like “you are what you absorb”.

A bonus tip:

Green leafy vegetables, cooked dried beans, and seafood are some foods which are great sources of calcium, dairy free, and also contain some of the co-factors to help assimilate the calcium.

Learn more about Dr. Lobisco.

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