In the average 70kg human body- approximately 1kg of this weight is calcium! 98% of this is found in your bones, 1% in your teeth and the rest in your bodily fluids. Calcium is obviously the main component in your bones, but did you know it is also vital to promote blood clotting and, along with its best friend magnesium, these two help regulate your heart beat, muscle tone, muscle contractions and nerve conductions.
Calcium rich and magnesium poor…
These days, particularly here in a dairy rich country like New Zealand our diets are rarely deficient in calcium. Yet calcium tends to be one of the most regularly used supplements, especially by women and those who don’t eat dairy food, to try and prevent conditions like osteoporosis and arthritis. If we turn the clock back several thousand years to a time before we used cows for milk production our ancestors ate foods that were rich in magnesium like seeds, nuts and wild fruits. Our bodies did not retain magnesium because it was readily available but as calcium was scarce we held onto it.
In addition to this we are now eating far more sugar and alcohol, both of which lead your body releasing calcium and magnesium through the kidneys and urine. The grains we eat now are usually through highly processed bread products that yield a lot less in the way of the vital magnesium and calcium.
A delicate balance…
Two major first world Western problems are arthritis and osteoporosis (especially in an ageing population). Both may well be caused in part by a lack of magnesium and calcium absorption. To absorb the calcium you are ingesting – you need magnesium (and adequate gastric acid). Without magnesium the calcium can actually collect in your soft tissues and further exacerbate arthritic problems. When calcium is elevated in the blood it stimulates the secretion of a hormone called calcitonin and suppresses the secretion of the parathyroid hormone (PTH) which can cause further upset to your delicate endocrine system. PTH actually draws calcium out of the bones (where you need it) and deposits it in the soft tissues, while calcitonin increases calcium in our bones and keeps it from being absorbed in our soft tissues. Getting sufficient amounts of magnesium helps keep this complex push-pull between the calcitonin and PTH hormones happy.
If you are deficient in magnesium – no amount of calcium will help your bones. In Asian cultures like Japan, China and India there is a lower incidence of osteoporosis despite very little dairy being eaten – because their diets are high in natural magnesium with foods like green vegetables, grains, tofu and seafood being eaten regularly. These diets are twice as high in magnesium as our average diets here in the West and therefore they absorb the much smaller amounts of calcium they do consume more efficiently.
Here we eat lots of calcium. Additionally, we also often consume excess caffeine from coffee, teas and energy drinks. We add sugar to our food and drinks and consume alcohol, plus many medications, all of which reduce the absorption of calcium and other important minerals and can cause our bones and kidneys to leach calcium and literally flush it out. Chronic calcium deficiency is also linked to hypertension (high blood pressure), is another very common modern disease.
Vitamin D (known as the sunshine vitamin) also assists with the absorption of calcium, phosphorus and to a minor degree magnesium. This vitamin therefore also plays an important role in helping maintain bone health. Here in New Zealand we are well aware of the harshness of our sun, so we are told to cover up and put sunblock on our skin. An unfortunate side effect of this is insufficient UVB exposure leading to a vitamin D deficiency that actually contributes to osteoporosis by reducing calcium absorption. So, this adds a third player to the complex balance of keeping dem bones in tip top shape.
Diet wise we are all aware of calcium and have easy access to it from dietary sources like milk, yoghurt, cheese and butter. Eggs, poultry, fish (especially salmon and sardines with the bones), broccoli and nuts are also great sources. Magnesium rich foods are seafood, leafy green vegetables, nuts, legumes, brown rice and unprocessed grains. Vitamin D mainly comes from the sun on our bare skin, and can be sourced in the diet through fatty fish like salmon, cod and sardines. Smaller amounts of vitamin D are found in egg yolks and liver.
If you are concerned about your bone health and calcium, it is important to take an honest look at your diet and habits first. BioBalance Calcium, Magnesium and Vitamin D has been created to carefully help find the natural balance for these three key players to help support your skeletal system. Buy it now from our secure online shop.
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