Calcium, Should We Be Concerned?

A recent study out of New Zealand showed that people who took calcium supplements for preventing osteoporosis had an increased chance of heart attack.

The results were written up in this article in Businessweek. Go ahead and read it, but the conclusions are funny.  Here's my basic outline of the article:

  • People who take calcium show a 30% increased risk of heart attacks
  • Calcium supplements don't prevent bone loss anyway
  • A doctor declares that we've now proven that calcium is a useless supplement
  • Some guy named Dr. John Cleland states that 'we know supplements are a waste of time by themselves'....
  • Another guy (Duffy McKay) says that we should get 1,000 to 1,500 mg of calcium a day from food and dairy
  • Oh, and if you can't get calcium from food, you should take calcium supplements!
  • Forgot to mention, these guys didn't actually do any studies, they simply analyzed other studies that have been around for a long time.

What?????

First of all, if you try to get 1500 mg of calcium from non-dairy food sources, you'll be eating a LOT of food. Then again maybe some people actually DO eat 10 whole artichokes a day, I don't know....  But if you try to get your calcium from dairy sources, you'll be eating way too much dairy (and probably develop allergy problems like you can't imagine).  Forget foods that are 'calcium fortified', they simply contain a calcium supplement so they don't count as a 'food source of calcium'.

But why do we need 1500 mg of calcium per day anyway?  The answer is that this is the amount suggested to prevent osteoporosis.  However, there aren't really any studies showing that calcium, either through supplements OR food, actually prevents osteoporosis at all!  In addition, this is the amount of calcium you should take if you are taking a really poor source of calcium (like calcium carbonate).  Nobody really knows how much to take of a more absorbable organic form of calcium.

I fully agree that we need calcium in our diet, and I suspect that the quantities we get from a healthy diet are just fine.  I also agree with most of the studies that say that it doesn't seem to help prevent bone loss.  Inorganic forms of calcium (calcium carbonate, for example), might just be a bit dangerous in large doses.  Inorganic forms of most nutrients can be dangerous if taken to excess.

If you're still convinced that you need to supplement your diet with calcium, look into the organic forms found in a number of ionic mineral supplements on the market today. I don't have a personal favorite, but simply look for 'ionic' and 'organic' in the description of the product.  Personally, I feel like the jury's still out deciding whether or not to take extra calcium in supplement form.  I also don't think we really know which calcium supplement forms are safe and which forms are unsafe.

BUT, if you're looking into supplements to help with bone loss, immediately grab some silica.

(Side note: this might be the most non-sexy supplement ever, but read on..... it will astound you)

There ARE studies that show silica has a profound influence on preventing bone loss, and actually aiding in recalcification of bone injuries.  Other studies show that it is quite useful during recovery from soft tissue injuries (tendon pulls or tears).  Additional studies mention that Silica can help with cardiovascular problems.  Silica also plays a significant role in healthy hair, fingernails and skin.  Even the famous Dr. Louis Pasteur predicted that Silica would be an important therapeutic substance for a number of diseases, and this was way back in the 19th century!

Personally, I like the silica that comes from a company named Flora Health.  The product is called 'Vegetal Silica', and I personally take 4 a day.  It comes from an organic source (it's an extract of the Spring Horsetail plant).  Silica is one of those supplements that seems too good to be true, but it's relatively cheap and safe compared to most other supplements.  It's one of my 'must take' supplements that I recommend for everybody.

Do some Googling about the health benefits of silica.  You'll be glad you did.

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