Why are we so interested in calcium, and if so, why not calcium supplements?
Calcium is a mineral that is necessary for life. In addition to building bones and keeping them healthy, calcium enables our blood to clot, our muscles to contract, and our heart to beat. A calcium-rich diet along with stopping smoking, moderation in alcohol use and pursuing weight-bearing exercises helps to prevent or delay Osteoporosis, the brittle bone disease. See my blog on Osteoporosis.
It has been determined that the best way to absorb this valuable mineral is to follow a diet that is rich in calcium. This includes low fat dairy products, nuts and seeds, leafy greens and seafood. In addition to milk products, ice cream, yogurt and cheese are good. Fruits such as oranges contain calcium. Additionally, other food sources are tofu, peanuts, peas, black beans and baked beans. Fish such as salmon and sardines, sesame seeds, corn tortillas, and almonds are good sources of calcium. Canned salmon and sardines are among the best sources thanks to their edible bones.
Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium and many health care providers are recommending that vitamin. This is an instance where a vitamin taken as a supplement works well and is very valuable.
Having said that, why are many health care providers no longer recommending calcium supplements? The following is a quote from Johns Hopkins Medicine:
“It’s important to protect your bone strength and guard against fractures as you age, but taking a supplement isn’t the best way to do that. A nutrient in pill form is not processed in the body the same way as it is when ingested from a food source. The truth is, the research is inconclusive. But there is a growing body of evidence that suggests no health benefit, or even worse, that calcium supplements may be harmful. Multiple studies have found that there’s little to no benefit to taking calcium supplements for the prevention of hip fractures. On the other hand, recent studies have linked calcium supplements with an increased risk of colon polyps (small growths in the large intestine that can become cancerous) and kidney stones, which are hard masses usually formed in the kidneys from an accumulation of calcium and other substances. Additionally, it is suggested that calcium supplements may increase the risk of calcium buildup in the heart’s arteries.”
Recent research has pointed to phosphorus and carbonated beverages (which contain phosphoric acid) as having a negative impact on bone density.
For more on this subject and others, see my blog on Osteoporosis at leeshealthline.com