Osteoporosis is a very real problem, and while it does affect women it also affects men.
Bones are living tissue. They serve as calcium bank accounts. Calcium goes in and calcium comes out. Thyrocalcitonin, a hormone produced by the thyroid glands stimulates the assimilation of calcium into the bones. Parathormone from the parathyroid glands draws calcium out of bones.
Calcium plays some key roles in the body. It is responsible for maintaining the dynamic acid/alkaline balance of the blood and tissues. When your blood is too acidic your body has a choice to make: pull calcium out of your bones to neutralize the acid and save your life or let the acid continue to escalate and let you die. Fortunately, it usually chooses acid neutralization.
Why would your body go too acidic? A lot of it has to do with food choices. Coffee (yes, even just one cup a day), tea, white sugar, white flour, dairy products (you read that correctly), red meat, soft drinks, and citrus fruits all create extra acid in our bodies. Vegetables are generally more alkalizing. Excessive physical activity also creates elevated acid levels, as do negative emotions (e.g. anger, resentment, bitterness, sadness, jealousy). Poor digestion, as in low stomach acid, leads to the incomplete breakdown of proteins which then release acid when they make it into the bloodstream. Symptoms of being chronically over-acid include asthma, allergies, arthritis, eczema, psoriasis, chronic inflammation, and sinus congestion to name a few of the common ones.
Sylvia Rogers also reports that x-rays lead to bone thinning and poor calcium assimilation.
Calcium is also required with magnesium for muscle contraction. If calcium and magnesium are out of balance with each other muscle cramps can result. There are several causes of muscle cramps, and the calcium/magnesium imbalance is just one.
Chemistry is so important. For bone density, we need calcium, magnesium, vitamin D3 and vitamin K2. For many years holistic practitioners have been recommending a 2:1 Calcium:magnesium ratio. Calcium can sometimes cause constipation where magnesium tends to loosen the bowel. By experimentation we have found that ratio from 2:1 all the way up to 1:3 may be needed by some people for optimal assimilation and to prevent calcium-induced constipation. There doesn't seem to be just one correct answer to the question of how much.
Remember that calcium alkalizes, as does magnesium. What would happen if we put these great alkalizers into the digestive system when protein was present. Protein requires an acidic environment in the stomach for digestion. The calcium and magnesium will neutralize the stomach acid making protein digestion at that time nearly impossible. Proteins that sit in a warm, dark, moist environment, not being digested, rot and become toxic, and the resulting odors (gas) are extremely putrid. Calcium’s and magnesium’s power got spent on stomach acid rather than regulating blood acid or building the bones. Clearly this indicates that calcium and magnesium are more useful for bone density and blood acid regulation when taken on an empty stomach. For best bone utilization, calcium and magnesium are best taken last thing in the day so they have all night in the gastrointestinal tract with no competition from other foods, and first thing in the morning at least one-half hour before eating. If, however, you find calcium supplements nauseate when taken on an empty stomach you might try taking them at bedtime with a carbohydrate snack (some whole grain crackers or a slice of sprouted grain bread). The body can handle only 500 mg of calcium at a time.
What kind of bones do you want to have? Strong, resilient, slightly elastic or dense and brittle? The type of calcium you take will determine the quality of bone you build. Think about the qualities of calcium carbonate (chalk) a common form of supplemental calcium. It is dense and very brittle. Indeed calcium carbonate is great as an antacid. It does a wonderful job of neutralizing stomach acid. It is not as well assimilated, and what little is assimilated creates dense, brittle bones. Oyster shell calcium is difficult to assimilate and is often contaminated with lead. Shells are not a normal part of the human diet and we simply don’t have the digestive juices to handle this type of calcium. Better forms of calcium are calcium citrate, dicalcium phosphate and calcium chelates. These three forms complement each other well when used together.
Some people may also need phosphorus, zinc, boron, and/or potassium to aid in calcium utilization. We also need vitamins A, D3, and K2 to o the job well. K2 can be found in Krill Oil.
Prescriptions for bone density are a little scary. They work by stopping the continuous recycling of calcium through the bone, trying to stop at the part of the cycle where the calcium is going in. Sometimes this doesn’t happen, and instead, the recycleing process is totally stopped, leading to no calcium going in and potentially some being drawn out creating a continued risk of bone breakage, including breakage in the jaw. Additionally, the calcium supplements that I have seen recommended for use with bone density prescriptions are often the carbonate form.
So, what does all this mean? What can you do with food choices, lifestyle, and supplements to protect your bones or to rebuild your bones?
Firstly, don’t drink milk, or eat cheese, yogurt, or cottage cheese. While there is an abundant amount of calcium in dairy products it is not bioavailable to the human chemistry especially after the milk has been pastuerized. When dairy protein hits the stomach, the stomach acids force the calcium to chelate to the casseine protein in the milk. This calcium-casseinate complex is indigestible by the human body, and as such the calcium is rendered useless and passes through the system with no chance of assimilation. This is an example of a ‘not so good’ chelating of calcium. It is interesting to note that the four countries with the highest dairy consumption are also the countries with the highest rates of osteoporosis: Finland, Sweden, USA, and England as reported by John Robbins in Diet for a New America . The dairy forms that are best for most people are real butter, real full-fat sour cream, and real whipping cream. These are less calcium-dense, and some saturated fat is necessary for good health. R
Clean up your diet. Get rid of high acid foods. Coffee (Dr. Christiane Northrup says you can pee your bones out one cup at a time by drinking coffee), tea (black and green), soft drinks, white sugar, white flour, and citrus fruits need to be gone from the diet. Citrus fruit is naturally high-acid, and when it is not tree-ripened it is even higher acid. Red meat should be eaten minimally, in small servings of no more than two to three ounces, if at all.
Be sure to focus on green, leafy vegetables, whole grains, hemp hearts, and well-chewed nuts and seeds (no peanuts). These are excellent food sources of calcium that can provide a solid base for calcium supplements to work on top of.
Use a good calcium/magnesium/vitamin D complex daily. Start with timing the calcium properly (bedtime and upon arising) and balance it with enough magnesium to keep the bowels working well. Good calcium/magnesium products contain some vitamin D. Newer research is indicating the previous RDA for vitamin D3 was dismally low, so adding extra vitamin D, up to a total of 3000 mg to your program may be a very wise move.
Since exercise is good for us, but excessive exercise generates acid from muscle breakdown (it’s the breakdown and subsequent repair that makes the muscle stronger) so it’s wise for very active people to supplement calcium, magnesium, and vitamin D3, even beyond normal recommendations, daily as suggested earlier. Calcium and magnesium at the 2:1 ratio has also been shown to reduce runners’ diarrhoea.
Exercise moderately. Walking briskly and walking lengths in a swimming pool are excellent exercises for bone density.
You certainly can overdose on calcium. Symptoms to watch for include dry mouth, increased thirst and frequency of urination, persistent headache, loss of appetite, metallic taste, nausea and vomiting, and unusual fatigue.
German New Medicine adds that bone thinning can be the result of being devalued by other people. Being put into situations where you are not able to stand up for yourself without facing serious repercussions (constantly being belittled or bullied by family members or co-workers, for instance) can go straight to your bones.
Take care of your bones with improved food choices, enhanced exercise programs, correct supplementation, and emotional work to deal with past negative experiences. Rebuild your bones with the same healthy day-to-day attention.