Calcium Supplements

Calcium Supplements, by Kham Tran at Wikimedia
Calcium Supplements, by Kham Tran at Wikimedia

When it comes to the chemistry of what we eat, we need to understand the chemistry of our own bodies. A calcium supplement is not the same from one form to the next. We never take “elemental” calcium. Instead we can take a supplement made of calcium bonded with some other chemical element(s). Which are appropriate? News reports do not tell us much about that.

Comment on “Extra Calcium May Not Do Older Women Much Good” on All Things Considered 25 May 2011. I raise questions about this study in an attempt to show how important our understanding of physiology is to the planning of studies. This was not an experiment reported on but a survey, with the lack of controls inherent in such a method of inquiry. Thus we have to be careful about the conclusions reached in the title to the study above.

Updated: June 19, 2011

Summary:

NPR reporter Nancy Shute reports on studies of the benefits of calcium supplements on bones in women. A recent study in the British Medical Journal followed 61,000 Swedish women over a period of 19 years and found that they gained no benefit in their bones by taking more than 750 mg of calcium per day.  Other studies in the US and other countries appear to find little benefit either, but this did not stop the Institute of Medicine from recommending that women over 50 take 1200 mg per day, regardless of no signs of bone loss. There are also problems with taking large amounts of calcium, leading to kidney stones and possibly cardiovascular problems.

My Comment Posted at NPR:

No one in these studies is addressing the form of calcium that women take in their supplements. 750 mg/day of which of the following? calcium carbonate, calcium phosphate, calcium citrate, calcium sulfate, calcium ferrate, calcium malate, calcium gluconate?  Or, is coral calcium best (it is made up of many different chemical elements that appear to increase the absorbability of calcium carbonate)? Calcium doesn’t come in its ionic form, and is always combined with something.  That combination will dictate calcium’s absorbability, theoretically.  Its absorbability will differ from person to person.

Further Comments:

Furthermore, these nutritional studies rarely take into account the amount of calcium that actually gets absorbed, and then how much gets distributed to the needy cells in any one person. Most probably the studies reported do not control for these aspects. I have seen absorption studies that have shown that a person needs to take twelve 500 mg capsules of calcium carbonate (oyster shell calcium) per day to achieve a level of 800 mg in the body).  However, this is an average for the group studied. The variance can be pretty high, suggesting that the recommended dosage must be calculated for every person separately after many tests of absorption.  There have been no tests, other than biopsies, that have been developed to determine which cells are getting the calcium that is absorbed, and I know of no doctor who has ordered these biopsies routinely. It is always assumed that every cell needing it can get it, that absorption of calcium is complete, when there is a lot of evidence suggesting that it is not (note the variance found in tests of absorption).

Finally, has anyone bothered to do a biopsy of osteoporotic bone to analyze for its fluid chemistry?–this means not just testing for the presence of calcium and phosphate, but also, the balance of calcium phosphate with other chemical elements.  If all you look for is the estrogen and calcium levels, then that is the only information you will find. There are too many cases in other countries (Japan, China) where post-menopausal women do not have the level of osteoporosis found in American women.  Just waving the hands and saying “genetic differences” is not an acceptable answer, especially if you have never bothered to look for all of the possible environmental causes.  No genes “cause” anything, since they all must become activated by environmental signals.

For more of my thoughts and analysis of the role, physiology, and chemistry of calcium transport, uptake, and actions, see my comment on Coffee May Lower Risk Of Deadliest Prostate Cancer on Morning Edition 18 May 2011 , my extended comments on this report on Coffee and Prostate Cancer, and on Cholesterol and Heart Disease.

See also
On Healthy Ice Cream
Science Says Diets Cannot Fight Chronic Pain
The Value and Dangers of Lithium for Living Organisms

Nutrition Reviews

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© Copyright 2014 by Martha L. Hyde and https://marthalhyde.wordpress.com.

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4 thoughts on “Calcium Supplements

  1. Thanks so much for your praise. The theme is one (Coraline, I think) of the many freely offered by WordPress.com who is enormously generous with their expertise to help new bloggers. I customized mine only in the images I chose to display. I also added some extra steps to get tabs at the top for people to click on if they want to see posts in different categories.

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  2. Vous avez de bons points il, c’est pourquoi j’aime toujours verifier votre blog, Il semble que vous etes un expert dans ce domaine. maintenir le bon travail, Mon ami recommander votre site.

    Mon francais n’est pas tres bon, je suis de l’Allemagne.

    Mon blog:
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    1. I will write both the French and English versions here:
      Thank you for your kind words. You can check my credentials at http://www.linkedin.com/in/marthahyde, but most of my credentials come from being able to think deeply and thoroughly about this material. I had to, just to help guide my brain learn where all the toxins in my body and the emotional links to them. My understanding of chemistry and how the brain works has come from doing the latter. My understanding about how the body works originally came from my studies and research. Check out my other postings on using MRT and the categories on Toxins and Neurosciences.

      Corrected French
      Merci beaucoups pour vos mots gentils. Vous pouvez vérifier mon resumé à http://www.linkedin.com/in/marthahyde, mais la majorité de ma formation viens de pouvoir de penser profondément et pleinement de cette matiére. Il faut que je d’en ais pensée, pour aider ma cervelle faire d’apprendre où sonts tous les toxines dans mon corps et leurs associations affectives neurologiques. L’intelligence de chemie et de neurophysiologie proviens de faire ce dernier. L’intelligence de physiologie proviens des études et des recherches. Vérifiez mes commentaires des textes additionelles pour Faire MRT et les catégories des Toxines et des Sciences Neurologiques. Mon français peut travailler, mais mon allemande n’est pas trop bien.

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