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Calcium and your health
We all know it: the body uses calcium (Ca) to build healthy bones and teeth. It is also needed for muscle contraction, and vital in enabling body cells to function properly, moving in and out of them through calcium ion channels. It also helps regulate cellular "traffic" of other minerals. What is much less known, and has far reaching consequences for wellbeing of many unsuspecting victims, is the
role of calcium as a buffer for excessive body acidity.
It is essential for the body to keep its acidity level at near-optimum. If the cell environment, and cell themselves, become too acidic, they begin to malfunction. If not quickly corrected for, it can lead to a total system collapse. Your body knows that, and there is little it won't do to protect body cells from excessive acidity. If it is calcium that fits the bill (varies with metabolism, individually and in time), it will use it wherever it can find it. Even if it has to
pull the calcium out of the bone.
If your body is too acidic for a longer period of time, and your calcium bone reserves on the thin side, you are likely to end up with osteoporosis.
Why would your body be too acidic? Well, these days it is much easier to be acidic than not. Diets with lots of sweets and meats in general make the body acidic. To make it worse, processed foods and drinks (especially sodas) are often loaded with phosphates, which inhibit absorption of calcium.
Worse yet, if you are deficient in vitamins D and K (if you guess you are likely to be, you are right!), more of all this calcium moving through your bloodstream deposits inside your blood vessels, where it sticks to the cholesterol oxidized by free radicals, clinging to the arterial walls. This is because proteins transporting calcium don't have a good "grip" on it without the two vitamins. With time, this calcium/cholesterol plaque contributes to hardening of your arteries - arteriosclerosis - the #1 killer disease of the modern world.
You can see now how deficiency in magnesium, or vitamins D and K, disrupts body's use of calcium. It can contribute to hardening of your arteries, hypertension, heart attack or stroke, even if your calcium intake is "normal". You don't even have to be acidic. The more of a hard time your body has with putting the calcium in your bones, and the more your intake exceeds what is effectively used, the more of it will be needlessly wandering through your bloodstream,
contributing to the plaque build up along the walls of your arteries.
It also increases the chances of tissue calcification. If it is deposited in your joints, you may end up with arthritis symptoms. Inside the kidneys it can contribute to the formation of kidney stones.
Calcium body function can also be disrupted due to cell membranes being damaged by free radicals and/or disabled by trans-fatty acids, especially when combined with nutritional deficiencies (essential fatty acids, minerals). As a result, calcium channels controlling movement of calcium in and out of the cells are not working properly. With too much calcium both, cells and tissues become more constricted, leading to
hypertension, and burdening of the heart muscle.
To suppress the symptoms, your doctor will likely prescribe you "calcium channel blocker", which interferes with the function of these calcium-trafficking cellular pores and relieves the pressure.
Swell - at least in theory. What actually happens is that calcium channel blockers don't give you extra benefit in lowering the pressure vs. other anti-hypertension drugs, but they do increase your chances of dying from heart attack by 26%. Their arbitrary interference with such a vital part of cellular metabolism as it is calcium transport is likely to cause other, often unpredictable adverse effects. Among them is increased risk of developing cancer (cancer cells contain only 1% of the calcium of a normal cell)12.
Calcium channel blockers also make your brain shrink (literally!), with all the neurological consequences, including intellectual erosion and Alzheimer's-like symptoms12.
I almost can hear you saying: There must be better way to do it! And there is. It is as simple as fixing what is broken. If your calcium channels malfunction, chances are, it is because they are damaged. The only solution is to enable the body to repair the damage. It is done by
correcting your essential fatty acids, mineral and
And - instead of your cell membranes -
shut down the influx of free radicals and trans-fatty acids
from processed foods and drinks.
That is the only safe way to restore proper calcium metabolism. Of course, this will take months. In the meantime, for temporary relief, ask your doctor about magnesium or celery: either could do great job at relieving your high blood pressure symptoms.
Calcium deficiency resulting from low dietary intake is not likely, but it can cause long list of ailments: from insomnia, anxiety and fatigue, to muscle spasms, painful periods and cardiovascular disease, to hemorrhaging, seizures, birth defects and stroke.
On the other hand, excessive calcium intake can result in indigestion, calcification, joint and muscle pains, fatigue, indigestion, cardiovascular disease, arteriosclerosis, and others. It would also lower absorption of other nutrients. As always, balanced intake of all nutrients is the only healthful long-term option.
Calcium DRI (Dietary Reference Intakes, the most recent set of dietary recommendations set by the government) for an average healthy adult is 1000mg (1g) a day (1200mg after the age of 50). Estimated average calcium food intake in the U.S. is about 2/3 of that, which balances out poorly against high average intake of protein and phosphates.
Best natural calcium food sources are collard greens, broccoli, kale, tofu, cheese, nuts and beans.