One question I am asked often is, “I’m growing older, so should I take extra amounts of calcium to prevent osteoporosis?” The correct answer is, “Only if your individual metabolism requires it and the only way to tell that is through testing.”
Calcium is probably the nutrient I recommend most that clients STOP taking. Many people, especially women, have been told that they need to supplement Calcium in addition to what they are getting from their diet. But many times on a hair analysis test, tissue calcium levels will be elevated above normal. High tissue calcium on this test does not necessarily indicate excessive calcium although it can. But often times it means the calcium is not being properly utilized. Proper utilization is often dependent upon calcium’s relationship with other essential minerals, such as phosphorus and magnesium.
A deficiency of either or both can result in excessive calcium deposits into tissues other than the primary storage sites of calcium (bones and teeth). Deposits of calcium into the soft tissues, include not only the hair, but also the skin, joints, arteries, lymph nodes, gallbladder, etc. And if soft tissue deposits of calcium continues for an extended period of time, certain conditions may develop, such as joint stiffness, muscle cramps, fatigue, premature aging of the skin, depression, anemia and insomnia. So in this issue we will explore the mineral Calcium, it’s uses in the body and what happens with excess or deficiency which can be determined through testing.
Calcium is closely associated with the bones and teeth. In fact, 90 percent of our calcium is found in these areas. The skeleton serves as a structural support, but is actually a dynamic system. It is constantly changing and remodeling to meet mechanical needs. The skeleton changes throughout life, maximizing strength and minimizing its mass. It protects vital organs and contains much of our blood- producing tissue. In addition to these functions, the bones serve as a reservoir for calcium and other nutrients. When there is a deficiency of these nutrients, especially calcium and phosphorus, the bones are called upon to supply them to other parts of the body.
Calcium circulating in the BLOOD should not be confused with TISSUE calcium. The body’s tissue calcium balance is not always associated with abnormalities in the serum calcium. Deficiencies or excesses found in the tissues and blood do not always appear in tandem. A person can have too much calcium in the tissues and too little in the blood and vice-versa.
The thyroid and adrenal glands can also affect calcium status. If they become overactive, they will cause the body to lose calcium. And in turn, high calcium levels on a hair analysis indicate a slowing metabolism, and sluggish thyroid and adrenals.
About 99% of our calcium is found in bones and teeth. However calcium is essential for four other critical roles:
- Cell Membrane Regulation – affecting cell permeability, muscle contraction and nerve impulse conduction.
- Body Fluid Regulation – affecting blood clotting, acidity and alkalinity.
- Regulation of cell division
- Regulation of hormone secretion – insulin
Calcium Deficiency Symptoms
- fast oxidation
- muscle cramps and spasms
- tooth decay
- hyperkinetic behavior
- fight-or-flight reaction
- high blood pressure
- increased tendency to absorb the heavy metals lead and cadmium
While its important to have enough of this essential mineral, serious problems can arise with the extended use of calcium supplements not required in the body. Many foods are now fortified with calcium and the ratio of calcium to other nutrients in foods is skewed thus making it much easier to get enough and often too much calcium easily.
A number of adverse conditions are associated with too much calcium such as:
- fatigue and exhaustion
- panic attacks
- paranoid feelings
- loss of memory and concentration
Also as with with most minerals, calcium is best evaluated in relationship to its other co-factors. When the synergistic and antagonistic nutrients are taken into consideration, fewer conflicts and better results may be obtained with regard to the treatment of disorders associated with calcium.
So before you reach for that calcium, consider all the different pathways and remember that just having calcium does not provide benefit unless that calcium can effectively be absorbed. A hair analysis would be a great tool to find out what lies inside.