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Calcium is found in foods such as dairy products, dark-green leafy vegetables, sea vegetables, canned salmon, sardines, tofu and sesame seeds. There is twice as much calcium in a cup of spinach as in a cup of milk. Supplementation:

Inorganic calcium forms (calcium sulfate, calcium phosphate and calcium carbonate) are poorly absorbed. Organic forms have better absorption rates which can run anywhere from 25% to as high as 95%.

Calcium orotate (90 to 95% absorbed) is the best, closely followed by calcium aspartate (85% absorbed). However, these are not only the most expensive, but they're also the harder to find. That means they may not be an option for many people.

Another good one is calcium ascorbate, which also provides vitamin C as the other part of the molecule, along with the fact that it's no longer an acidic form of vitamin C.

The amino acid chelates (65-80% absorption) are still fairly expensive, and not as easily found (though easier than the preceding two). These are probably the best compromise if you're willing to spend just a bit more.

The best compromise of price, percentage of elemental calcium, and absorption would probably be calcium citrate. The absorption is 30 to 35%, and the citric acid reduces the amount of stomach acids required for absorption. For most people, calcium citrate would be the most reasonable choice.

Calcium content of foods (mg per 100gm / 3.5oz portion):

Human Breast Milk33 (low!)Almonds234Amaranth267
Apricots (dried)67Artichokes51Beans (can: pinto, black)135
Beet greens (cooked)99Blackeye peas55Bran70
Broccoli (raw)48Brussel Sprouts36Buckwheat114
Cabbage (raw)49Carrot (raw)37Cashew nuts38
Cauliflower (cooked)42Swiss Chard (raw)88Chickpeas (garbanzos)150
Collards (raw leaves)250Cress (raw)81Dandelion greens187
Endive81Escarole81Figs (dried)126
Filberts (Hazelnuts)209Kale (raw leaves)249Kale (cooked leaves)187
Leeks52Lettuce (light green)35Lettuce (dark green)68
Molasses (dark-213 cal.)684Mustard Green (raw)183Mustard Green (cooked)138
Okra (raw or cooked)92Olives61Orange (Florida)43
Parsley203Peanuts (roasted & salted)74Peas (boiled)56
Pistachio nuts131Potato Chips40Raisins62
Rhubarb (cooked)78Sauerkraut36Sesame Seeds1160
Squash (Butternut)40Soybeans60Sugar (Brown)85
Spinach (raw)128Tofu93Sunflower seeds120
Sweet Potatoes (baked)40Turnips (cooked)35Turnip Greens (raw)246
Turnip Greens (boiled)184Water Cress151  


Don't forget, the right water can contribute to your daily calcium intake too. Consumption of mineral-rich water contributed up to 25% of daily calcium and 17% of daily magnesium intake in a French population study. [J Am Diet Assoc 2002;102(11): pp.1658-62]
 

 
 

Calcium can help with the following:
 
 
Autoimmune  Crohn's Disease
 One study took a look at a drug called etidronate to see if it would help protect the bones of people with Crohn's disease. The bad news: It didn't. The good news: The vitamin D and calcium supplements that were taken in the control group were highly effective all on their own.

Circulation

  Hypertension

Diet

  Excess Protein Consumption
 A high protein diet requires supplemental calcium to offset the additional calcium lost in the urine. Animal protein, while by itself can increase calcium loss, when taken with calcium may improve bone density. [Am J Clin Nutr, 2002; 75:pp. 609-610, 773-779]

Digestion

  IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome)
 See the link between IBS and Vitamin B12.

  Heartburn / GERD
 Although calcium use will neutralize acid found in the esophagus, it also neutralizes it in the stomach, where acid is needed for proper digestion. The routine use of acid neutralizers or drugs to prevent acid production are not recommended by many natural doctors, because of the possible consequences to the digestive process.

Calcium carbonate gum (600mg/dose or 900mg/dose) increased esophageal pH and reduced heartburn for up to 120 minutes after dosing in a study of 24 subjects. High dose calcium carbonate gum (900mg) provided more prolonged symptom relief and pH control than chewable antacid tablets (1000mg). [Aliment Pharmacol Ther2002;16(12): pp.2029-36]

Hormones

  Hypoparathyroidism
 The goal of treatment for hypoparathyroidism is to restore the calcium and associated mineral balance within the body. Oral calcium and vitamin D supplements are usually a life-long therapy. Blood levels of calcium require periodic monitoring to ensure proper dosage. A high-calcium, low-phosphorous diet is recommended.

  Histadelia (Histamine High)
 Calcium, methionine, SAMe, magnesium, zinc, TMG, omega-3 fatty acid, B6, inositol, vitamin A, C and E have some antifolate activity.

  Hyperparathyroidism
 Contrary to popular medical belief, calcium supplementation can be useful, even when calcuim levels are already too high in hyperparathyroidism. This high level of calcium is being maintained by taking calcium from your bones. Supplemental oral calcium helps prevent calcium being taken from your bones! In the mean time, one should be looking for a surgeon who specializes in this operation.

The following study results indicate that calcium loading inhibits bone resorption in postmenopausal women with mild primary hyperparathyroidism.

Oral calcium loading is known to decrease parathyroid hormone levels in primary hyperparathyroidism. We have examined the effects of a calcium supplement on bone resorption in postmenopausal primary hyperparathyroidism. Fasting blood and urine samples were obtained in 12 postmenopausal women (median age 64 yr) with primary hyperparathyroidism associated with mild hypercalcemia (plasma calcium less than 3.00 mmol/l). Further samples were obtained 12 hours after a 1 g calcium supplement given at 2100 h. After calcium administration there were rises in plasma ionized calcium (p less than 0.02), plasma phosphate (p less than 0.05) and the renal tubular maximum reabsorption capacity for phosphate (p less than 0.01) and falls in parathyroid hormone (p less than 0.05) and the renal tubular maximum reabsorption capacity for calcium (p less than 0.05). The urinary calcium/creatinine increased (p less than 0.01) and the urinary hydroxyproline/creatinine (p less than 0.02) fell. [Horm-Metab-Res. 1994 Jan; 26(1): 39-42]

Mental

  Anxiety

Metabolic

  Methylation, Insufficient
  Problem Caused By Being Overweight
 In a study of obese people consuming a low-calorie diet for 24 weeks, those receiving a calcium supplement (800 mg per day) lost significantly more weight than those given a placebo [Obes Res. 2004 Apr;12(4): pp.582-90.]. Calcium was effective when provided either as a supplement, or in the form of dairy products. Fat loss from the trunk area increased as the level of calcium supplementation increased.

In a second study, however, the amount of weight loss resulting from calcium supplementation (1,000 mg per day) was small and not statistically significant. In that study, participants' typical diet contained more calcium than in the study in which calcium supplementation was more effective. Thus, it is possible that calcium supplementation enhances weight loss only when the diet is low in calcium.

  Bruxism (Clenching/Grinding Teeth)
  Anorexia / Starvation Tendency
 A study evaluated 7 girls, 13 to 20 years of age, with anorexia nervosa compared to 7 health controls. The percentage of calcium absorption was 16.2% for the anorexic patients and 24.6% in the control subjects. Urinary calcium excretion was 4 times greater in the anorexics and was related to bone resorption. Anorexics have significant increased bone resorption and decreased bone formation rates. Calcium intake and hormonal abnormalities should be analyzed to treat this situation. [Journal of Pediatrics, 1993;123: pp.326-331]

  Acidosis
  Blood Type O

Not recommended for:
  Lipo-Oxidative Type
  Metabolic Diet Type

Musculo-Skeletal

  Osteoporosis / Risk
 A study found that a supplement containing calcium, manganese, zinc and copper prevented bone loss in postmenopausal women, whereas calcium alone was ineffective. Calcium supplements for osteoporosis should contain other minerals as well, or the form of calcium used should have been proven to be of benefit.

Intake of supplemental calcium (1000mg per day or more) and vitamin D was associated with reduced tooth loss (due to bone loss) over a five year period in a study of 145 healthy subjects aged 65 years and older who completed a 3-year trial of the effect of calcium and vitamin D supplementation on bone loss from the hip, as well as a 2-year follow-up study after discontinuation of the study supplements. [Am J Med 2001;111(6): pp.452-56]

The recommended daily intake levels for prepubertal children (ages 4-8 years) is 800 mg/day; adolescents (ages 9-18 years), 1300 mg/d; pregnant or lactating women (18 years), women and men (ages 19-50 years), 1000 mg/d;
women and men over 50 years, 1500 mg/d.

Another study concluded: "The small effect of calcium supplementation on bone mineral density in the upper limb is unlikely to reduce the risk of fracture, either in childhood or later life, to a degree of major public health importance. It may be appropriate to explore alternative nutritional interventions, such as increasing vitamin D concentrations and intake of fruit and vegetables." [BMJ Sept 2006]

These results with calcium are not that encouraging. However, there are products using compounds of calcium which have been proven to reverse osteoporosis. Examples are AdvaCAL, 3A Calcium (Active Absorbable Algal) and a new one - AlgaeCal Plus.

All 400 participants have now completed the first 6 months of the AlgaeCal Bone Health Program, and results are exceeding expectations by reversing bone loss, and increasing bone mineral density in post menopausal women.

C.E.O. of AlgaeCal International Dean Neuls says "we are very excited with these results because our natural osteoporosis treatment is accomplishing what no other calcium supplement has been able to do; we are actually reversing bone loss."

AlgaeCal International and Integrative Health Technologies Inc (IHTI) launched an independent clinical trial to study the effectiveness of the AlgaeCal Bone Health Program. The program is a natural osteoporosis treatment that consists of a plant based calcium supplement, a strontium citrate supplement and an exercise program.

Kaats, adds "Although only a few subjects have now completed the one-year tests, analysis of the 6-month test results revealed that instead of the expected decline in bone mineral density, over two-thirds of women over 50 years of age increased their bone densities. Subjects in the 50+ adult group achieved an annualized increase in bone density of over 1% instead of the expected 1% decline for people of this age." Kaats goes on to say "The most dramatic improvement was found in a 64-year old woman who improved her bone density at a 10% a year rate and a cancer patient being treated with chemotherapy who also improved his bone density." Here is a link to the AlgaeCal home page, where these products can be ordered.

  Leg Cramps At Night
 Both calcium and magnesium are involved in relaxing nerve impulses and regulating muscle activity. Calcium is needed to contract the muscle, and magnesium is needed to relax it. An imbalance in this dynamic duo can irritate and confuse the muscle.

Recommended Product:
Now's Calcium Citrate w/ Zinc Magnesium, & Manganese 100Tabs

Nutrients

  Calcium Requirement

Risks

  Increased Risk of Colon Cancer
 A higher dietary calcium intake (914mg/d compared to 486mg/d) was associated with a reduced risk of colorectal cancer in a study of 61,463 women followed for an average of 11 years. [Nutr Cancer 2002;43(1): pp.39-46]

Previous studies have shown that people with noncancerous colorectal tumors called adenomas who take calcium supplements for 4 years can reduce their risk of an adenoma recurrence. A new study shows that the protective effect of those supplements lasts for up to 5 years after stopping supplementation. They note that current guidelines recommend that people simply consume recommended levels of calcium (1000 mg/day for adults up to age 50 years and 1200 mg/day for those older than 50 years) [Calcium Polyp Prevention Study, Jan. 17, 2007 JNCI]

  Increased Risk of Rectal Cancer
 A higher dietary calcium intake (914mg/d compared to 486mg/d) was associated with a reduced risk of colorectal cancer in a study of 61,463 women followed for an average of 11 years. [Nutr Cancer 2002;43(1): pp.39-46]

  Increased Risk of Coronary Disease / Heart Attack
 One study showed a 30% to 35% reduction in ischemic heart disease risk in women with a high intake of supplemental calcium. Dietary calcium achieved no significant change in heart attack risk, the researchers noted.

2012. A study of approximately 24,000 people between the ages of 35 and 64 found participants who took regular calcium supplements were 86% more likely to have a heart attack than those who didn't take supplements. Those who took only calcium supplements were twice as likely to suffer a heart attack as those who didn't take any vitamin supplements. [Heart Journal, May 23, 2012]

Uro-Genital

  Premenstrual Syndrome / PMDD
 A large double-blind trial found that women who took 1,200mg per day of calcium for three menstrual cycles had a 48% reduction in PMS symptoms, compared to a 30% reduction in the placebo group. [Am J Obstet Gynecol 1998;179: PP.444-52] Other trials have shown that supplementing 1,000mg of calcium per day relieves premenstrual symptoms. [J Gen Intern Med 1989;4: pp.183-9, Am J Obstet Gynecol 1993;168: pp.1417-23]

  Possible Pregnancy-Related Issues
 Children of mothers who took calcium during pregnancy were still reaping the benefits seven years later in one Argentinian study. Blood pressure was lower in these youngsters - especially among overweight children - than those in the non-supplement-taking group. [Belizan JM, et al. Brit Med J 1997;315(7103): pp.281­5] Taking calcium may also decrease a woman's chance of developing pre-eclampsia, pregnancy-related hypertension. [Moutquin HM, et al. Can Med Assoc J 1997;157(7): pp.907­19]

A growing baby acquires most of its calcium during the last trimester of pregnancy; an additional amount is needed during breastfeeding. This translates into a greater need for calcium during and after pregnancy. A pregnant woman who fails to consume adequate calcium -1,200mg per day is recommended - increases her risk of developing osteoporosis later in life, especially if she becomes pregnant again. [Vandecanderlaere M, et al. Rev Med Interne 1997;18(7): pp.571­4]
 
 


KEY
May do some good
Likely to help
Highly recommended
May have adverse consequences
Reasonably likely to cause problems







GLOSSARY

Amino Acid:  An organic acid containing nitrogen chemical building blocks that aid in the production of protein in the body. Eight of the twenty-two known amino acids are considered "essential," and must be obtained from dietary sources because the body can not synthesize them.

Ascorbate:  A mineral salt of ascorbic acid (i.e., vitamin C) that aids in the absorption of both vitamin C and the mineral.

Calcium:  The body's most abundant mineral. Its primary function is to help build and maintain bones and teeth. Calcium is also important to heart health, nerves, muscles and skin. Calcium helps control blood acid-alkaline balance, plays a role in cell division, muscle growth and iron utilization, activates certain enzymes, and helps transport nutrients through cell membranes. Calcium also forms a cellular cement called ground substance that helps hold cells and tissues together.

Gram:  (gm): A metric unit of weight, there being approximately 28 grams in one ounce.

Magnesium:  An essential mineral. The chief function of magnesium is to activate certain enzymes, especially those related to carbohydrate metabolism. Another role is to maintain the electrical potential across nerve and muscle membranes. It is essential for proper heartbeat and nerve transmission. Magnesium controls many cellular functions. It is involved in protein formation, DNA production and function and in the storage and release of energy in ATP. Magnesium is closely related to calcium and phosphorus in body function. The average adult body contains approximately one ounce of magnesium. It is the fifth mineral in abundance within the body--behind calcium, phosphorus, potassium and sodium. Although about 70 percent of the body's magnesium is contained in the teeth and bones, its most important functions are carried out by the remainder which is present in the cells of the soft tissues and in the fluid surrounding those cells.

Milligram:  (mg): 1/1,000 of a gram by weight.

Orotate:  An oratic acid salt (nucleic acid); an effective molecule for transporting minerals through cellular membranes. Functions as an essential part of every living cell.

oz:  Ounce. Approximately 28 grams.

Stomach:  A hollow, muscular, J-shaped pouch located in the upper part of the abdomen to the left of the midline. The upper end (fundus) is large and dome-shaped; the area just below the fundus is called the body of the stomach. The fundus and the body are often referred to as the cardiac portion of the stomach. The lower (pyloric) portion curves downward and to the right and includes the antrum and the pylorus. The function of the stomach is to begin digestion by physically breaking down food received from the esophagus. The tissues of the stomach wall are composed of three types of muscle fibers: circular, longitudinal and oblique. These fibers create structural elasticity and contractibility, both of which are needed for digestion. The stomach mucosa contains cells which secrete hydrochloric acid and this in turn activates the other gastric enzymes pepsin and rennin. To protect itself from being destroyed by its own enzymes, the stomach’s mucous lining must constantly regenerate itself.

Vitamin C:  Also known as ascorbic acid, Vitamin C is a water-soluble antioxidant vitamin essential to the body's health. When bound to other nutrients, for example calcium, it would be referred to as "calcium ascorbate". As an antioxidant, it inhibits the formation of nitrosamines (a suspected carcinogen). Vitamin C is important for maintenance of bones, teeth, collagen and blood vessels (capillaries), enhances iron absorption and red blood cell formation, helps in the utilization of carbohydrates and synthesis of fats and proteins, aids in fighting bacterial infections, and interacts with other nutrients. It is present in citrus fruits, tomatoes, berries, potatoes and fresh, green leafy vegetables.