Calcium is not the sole contributor to bone health. The mineral portion of bone is made up of calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, silicon, strontium and zinc. Healthy bone is therefore compromised of 60-70% mineral, approx. 30% collagen with trace amounts of other protein and inorganic salts and 10-20% water. Nutrients essential for the formation of healthy bone include calcium, vitamin D3 (without which calcium cannot be absorbed from the digestive tract), and zinc which plays a role in activating enzymes necessary for the construction of bone.
*Remember one must get outside and not use sunscreen for skin synthesis if vitamin D to be successful. As a result, it is recommended for those whose occupations keep them in doors during day light hours should take supplemental vitamin D. The latest research data indicate the following dosages are appropriate:
Infants: 1000 i.u per day
Children & teens: 2000 i.u per day
Adults: 2000 – 4000 i.u per day
Seniors: 4000 – 6000 i.u per day
There are many different types of calcium but today I would like to discuss plant calcium and how its potency differs from other supplemental calciums. Plant-based calcium comes from nature therefore we can say it is ‘living’. It is part of the biomass of the plant, held within the roots, leaves, stem, and fruits. In plants, elemental calcium is attached to complex carbohydrates, bioflavonoids, fibres, and/or proteins.
Synthetic calcium compounds are made in laboratories usually as the result of common acid-base reactions. A simple, molecular calcium compound is formed by adding inexpensive, purified calcium oxide to an acid solution. There is one plant-derived calcium that can be viewed as a hybrid between a purely plant calcium and a synthesised calcium because of it bioavailablity. It is a form of calcium that is derived from the North Atlantic sea algae, Lithothamnium. It also contains trace amounts of other minerals and substances present in the seawater.
Are there any side effects from taking a plant calcium?
Plant calcium is the most benign form of calcium to ingest. It lacks any acidic overload associated with a synthetic compound. There is no additional calcification or deposits that occur in the body that is associated with long term use of synthetic calcium. Individuals sometimes exhibit a variety of side effects to the ingestion of synthetic forms of calcium such as mild constipation, digestive disturbance, muscle cramping or fatigue. Plant calcium on the other hand, may have one noticeable side effect and that could be muscle cramping. The symptom reflects the innate balance of calcium to magnesium. Absorbing calcium from any source without a balancing amount of magnesium will result in muscle cramps as a simple fact of human biochemistry.
Why take calcium at night?
When we retire at night, and the pull of gravity is greatly reduced as we stretch out in a prone position, osteoclast (bone cells that break down bone) is stimulated and osteoblast (cells that lay down bone/ bone building) is suppressed. However, it has been shown that taking supplemental doses of calcium and vitamin D at night stimulates osteoblast activity.
Is there anything else one can do for bone health?
As a person places physical force against the skeleton, stressing it through exercises such as walking, running and significant weight lifting, electrical charges are triggered across the surface of the bone that help draw minerals to it. Dietary habits can work against or in favour of bone health too. Consumption of confectionary foods, grains, and (this almost seems counterintuitive) dairy products crate a profoundly acidifying burden on human metabolism that overruns the bicarbonate buffering system in the blood and forces the release of mineral from bone in order to neutralise the acid load. Indeed, grains, refined sugars and dairy foods are the worst culprit’s along with the consumptions of more than 2 cups of coffee per day. Diets rich in vegetables (especially that of spinach and broccoli) create a net alkaline balance that preserves bone tissue.