Most people today believe that calcium is the crucial ingredient when it comes to building strong and healthy bones. However, this belief is not based on facts. The truth is that calcium is only one among many different minerals that the body needs in order to take care of the bones.
According to a recent Salt revealed at the annual meeting of the Pediatric Academic Societies, the intake of magnesium may be significantly more beneficial for the structure of our bones compared to calcium.
Let’s Take a Closer Look at Calcium Claims
The mainstream media and many nutritionists are involved in the promotion of calcium as a mineral that can do wonders for the bones in the past few decades. These myths about how calcium supplements can instantly lead to stronger bones and teeth are accepted by many doctors too. But only a small number of people know the real effects of calcium supplementation.
A study conducted in 2004 has confirmed that people who have calcium levels in the coronary artery that are above average and people who take statin drugs at the same time have 1700% more chances of developing heart attacks compared to those with low arterial calcium levels. The researchers that were part of this study have concluded that the two most obvious signs of heart attack are calcium accumulation and LDL levels.
A study from 2008 indicated that calcium supplements are linked to a higher number of heart attacks and cardiovascular disease in postmenopausal women.
Finally, a meta-analysis performed 5 years ago confirmed that calcium supplements (that don’t include vitamin D) are linked to increased chances of developing a heart attack.
The professionals from The National Osteoporosis Foundation have no doubts that food is the ultimate source of calcium. According to them, people who are able to take the recommended daily amount of calcium from food should stay away from calcium supplements. However, they will still need to use vitamin D supplements. In addition, having high amounts of calcium from supplements can lead to the emergence of kidney stones and other similar health conditions.
According to Professor Sabine Rohrmann from the Institute of social and preventive medicine, Zurich University, calcium supplements are accepted by many doctors and the public in general because they believe that they are a natural and completely safe way to avoid osteoporotic fractures.
However, the studies have shown that taking these supplements on a daily basis is not very natural and cannot be compared with the positive effects that bring calcium found in food.
It is interesting that the vast majority of supplements found in stores and on the internet have calcium carbonate – a poorer type of calcium. Manufacturers use citric acid to ease the absorption process.
However, the final result is inferior when compared to some other calcium supplements like calcium orotate – a form of calcium that has unique ability to enter the membranes of cells.
There are also many people who are not aware of the fact that the belief that including pasteurized dairy products like cheese and milk will increase the levels of calcium is actually incorrect. Calcium carbonate is the only product of pasteurization. This carbonate cannot penetrate the cells without the help of a chelating agent.
In this case, the body extracts the calcium found in bones and other tissues that are rich in calcium to keep the calcium carbonate in the bloodstream. In other words, drinking pasteurized dairy products leads to osteoporosis. You can’t expect positive effects from pasteurized milk.
Magnesium and Increasing Awareness
Professor Steven Abrams and his team from the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas have presented new information on this topic. They have concluded that absorption and intake of magnesium in early childhood can indicate the bone density and bone mineral content in the future. On the other hand, calcium intake could not provide such predictions.
The researchers claim that dietary magnesium intake is very likely an important and fairly unrecognized factor in bone mineral growth in kids.
According to Professor Abrams, many different nutrients are important for the health of bones in children. One of the most important ones is magnesium. Of course, calcium is important too, but it is not more important compared to magnesium except in cases of low intake of calcium.
In addition, the research team has found that many parents have followed the advice to secure good calcium intake on a daily basis for healthier bones. But, the truth is that the significance of other minerals that can be vital for bone health like magnesium has not been promoted in a good way or at all. This team of researchers predicts that in the near future parents will be advised to consume magnesium because its importance is unquestionable.
Both men and women will experience greater bone mineral density in case they increase magnesium intake. According to some statistics, people can expect about a 2% increase in the entire bone mineral density for every 100 mg a day increase in magnesium.
Dr. Kathryn M. Ryder and her colleagues from the University of Tennessee, Memphis has agreed that osteoporotic fractures are a great health issue in aging adults. Since BMD and fractures are closely related, only a small change in the BMD can result in great improvement.
Magnesium is a mineral found in bone structure that has unduly studied less although it may have even or greater role than magnesium.
Throughout history, people have practiced a diet that included a 1:1 ratio of magnesium to calcium. This is an optimal ratio. In addition, a ratio that is somewhere between 1:1 and 1:2 is appropriate too (for example 200 mg of magnesium to 400 mg of calcium).
However, the modern diet usually contains 10 times less magnesium than calcium.
Magnesium can be found in many forms. Magnesium chloride or oxide is good and chelated magnesium provides positive effects too. The capsules of these supplements contain between 250 and 500 mg of magnesium. In addition, you can try a magnesium/calcium supplement. Feel free to test different levels.
Keep in mind that the RDA (Recommended Daily Allowance) for magnesium is between 350 and 400 mg, although if you want to reach optimal levels you may want to double this amount.
The best way to take magnesium is to create several smaller doses and take them during the day. You can have these doses together with meals or when you are hungry.
Another good idea is to add some Epsom salts to the baths. Epsom salt is actually magnesium sulfate. It can reach the body through the skin and increase the levels of magnesium. This simple treatment will relieve stress too.
The blood contains only one percent of the total amount of magnesium in the body and the body uses magnesium from the tissues and bones in case this level decreases. In other words, a blood test is not relevant for determining magnesium levels in the system.
Remember that the perfect source of magnesium is natural food. Some foods that are packed with magnesium include green leafy vegetables, different seeds, cacao, and nuts.
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