Our Daily Calcium (Part II) – Triple Strong Calcium Plan: by Dr Damiana Corca
Learning about calcium’s functions and its related diseases is all fun and interesting but the bottom line is that we need useful information that we can actually apply in our daily life.
Here it is! Not only a triple strong calcium plan but how about a triple square plan? OK, enough mathematics, let’s get it going already.
1. All about Balance
a) Magnesium – Calcium balance
A balance of 1-2 is ideal because magnesium is very important in calcium absorption but also to maintain a healthy bowel movement. Rich sources are found in unprocessed foods such as whole grains, beans, seaweeds, and chocolate. Did I see a smile there, Chocoholics? Yes, chocolate can be a good source of magnesium as long as it is a healthy choice, such as over 70% cocoa and no hydrogenated fats or high amounts of sugar. However, chocolate is also high in oxalic acid, which hinders calcium absorption. So, is chocolate good for maintaining a healthy magnesium-calcium balance? Let’s say it is a relatively good source; just keep the chocolate intake under control!
b) Sodium – Calcium balance
Increased sodium intake leads to increased excretion of calcium and magnesium. Moreover, this also links very well with high blood pressure. As you can see, decreasing your salt intake benefits a number of problems including osteoporosis and hypertension. Should I give examples of high sodium foods? They are everywhere; salt can be found even in foods that you never think of as high in salt. My advice is to always do some label-checking before throwing a product in the shopping cart.
c) Phosphorus – Calcium balance
The 1-2 ratio is very important to our body. Excess phosphorus causes calcium deficiency. On the other hand, some new studies have shown that normal amounts of calcium seem to compensate for excess phosphorus. Nonetheless, watch those sodas, as they are really high in phosphorus.
2. All about amount
a) Vitamin D
It is widely known that Vitamin D is a must for calcium absorption. 15-20 minutes of daily sunshine should suffice. So let the sun shine over you! There are a few foods relatively high in Vitamin D such as salmon, mackerel, and cod liver oil. New studies are showing promising benefits for many diseases, so keep that vitamin up!
Potassium is closely linked to calcium and sodium – a balanced intake will not only keep calcium at normal levels but also prevent hypertension. Some foods rich in potassium are bananas, potatoes, and strawberries but as a general rule, foods rich in calcium are generally rich in potassium as well.
The sunshine of plants, Chlorophyll foods act as stored sunshine, providing not only vitamin D but also phosphorus and vitamins A and C. Greens rock as usual!
3. All about food
a) G and G soup
G and G stands for Green and Grain – that is a soup of barley sprouts and kale. If you don’t have barley sprouts, barley soaked for 8 hours will do. The sprouting process enhances the availability of important cofactors needed in calcium absorption. Simmer barley first; add kale towards the end and condiment per taste.
b) Bean soup
Beans are beneficial for bones from the Chinese medicine perspective as well, especially when seaweed is added. Both beans and seaweeds are highly concentrated in calcium and magnesium.
c) Bone soup
Following the principle of “like cures like”, any bone soup can be beneficial for a calcium-building diet. In addition, bone-in sardines can be used in any form, not only soup.
I could give you a list of all the foods high in calcium but I have something better for you – foods that have the highest bioavailability, or absorbability, to be more precise. The truth is that even the most absorbable foods yield only about 50% of their calcium content to our body, the rest being lost. As I was saying, I would highly recommend cauliflower, watercress, Brussels sprouts, rutabaga, kale, bok choy, broccoli and turnip greens. Tofu follows, at about the same level of bioavailability with dairy products.
A couple more tips before I finish. As I mentioned above, green plants are a great source of calcium, but keep in mind that greens high in oxalic acid tend to counteract the ability to absorb calcium. Examples of such foods are spinach, chard, beet greens, and chocolate. One more thing… fat and protein help calcium absorption in general, but higher intakes do the opposite.
Healthy lifestyle is the key to long-term health benefits. It does take effort to change but it definitely brings about benefits that no magic bullets can!
More on my website at: www.elitehealthplex.com
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Pitchford P. (2002). Healing with Whole Foods. Berkeley, CA: North Atlantic Books
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Damiana Corca, DOM, AP, Dipl. O.M., Dipl. C.H.
Doctor of Oriental Medicine, Acupuncture Physician
Board Certified Chinese Herbology
Board Certified in Oriental Medicine
Diplomate in Oriental Medicine
Western Family and Consultant Herbalist
Candidate, Board Certified Classical Homeopath
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Dear Dr. Damiana, thank you for your informative article.
Carolyn Dean MD, ND, author of “The Magnesium Miracle” and Medical Director of the Nutritional Magnesium Association at http://www.nutrtionalmagnesium.org has this additional information to share that I thought you and your readers may find useful.
Adequate levels of magnesium are essential for the absorption and metabolism of calcium.
• Magnesium stimulates a particular hormone, calcitonin, that helps to preserve bone structure and draws calcium out of the blood and soft tissues back into the bones, preventing some forms of arthritis and kidney stones.
• Magnesium suppresses another bone hormone called parathyroid, preventing it from breaking down bone.
• Magnesium converts vitamin D into its active form so that it can help calcium absorption.
• Magnesium is required to activate an enzyme that is necessary to form new bone.
• Magnesium regulates active calcium transport.
With all these roles for magnesium to play, it is no wonder that even a mild deficiency can be a risk factor for osteoporosis. Further, if there is too much calcium in the body, especially from calcium supplementation, magnesium absorption can be greatly impaired, resulting in worsening osteoporosis and the likelihood of kidney stones, arthritis, and heart disease. Excess calcium can also deposit in cancerous tumors worsening this condition.
It is unfortunate that the treatment for osteoporosis has been simplified into the single battle cry “Take calcium”. Calcium dominates every discussion about osteoporosis, is used to fortify dozens of foods (including orange juice and cereal), and is a top-selling supplement, but it cannot stand alone.
Calcium and magnesium work so closely together that the lack of one immediately diminishes the effectiveness of the other. Even though the use of calcium supplementation for the management of osteoporosis has increased significantly in the last decade, scientific studies do not support such large doses after menopause. Soft tissue calcification could be a serious side effect of taking too much calcium. 2
The balancing mineral for calcium is magnesium, in a ratio of at least 1:1. For people who have magnesium deficiency, a healthier ratio is two parts magnesium to one part calcium.
The most common form is magnesium citrate in powder form. When taken in divided doses throughout the day, it does not cause a laxative effect. Magnesium is a “safer” product than calcium because it is excreted more completely and doesn’t build up in the body.
1. Brown S, Better Bones, Better Body, Keats Publishing, New Canaan, CT, 1996.
2. Brown S, Better Bones, Better Body, Keats Publishing, New Canaan, CT, 1996.
For more information contact The Nutritional Magnesium Association http://www.nutritionalmagnesium.org