The idea that calcium is the key to strong bones is deep-rooted in the society, but in reality there is no basis for this belief– calcium is just ONE of the numerous minerals that you need for having strong bones. The dietary intake of magnesium, and not calcium, is the key to building healthy bones in the childhood, according to a recent study presented at the annual meeting of Pediatric Academic Societies in the US.
Take Another Look At the claims about Calcium
For decades, the mainstream has been supporting the consumption of calcium as prevention for weak bones. The myths that calcium supplements can build strong teeth and bones are reinforced in all institutions. But just how effective are the calcium supplements?
A study conducted in 2004 revealed that people who have excess calcium in the coronary artery and take statins are 17 times more likely to suffer from a heart attack than those who have lower levels of arterial calcium; scientists concluded that the 2 most certain indicators of heart attacks were calcium buildup and LDL levels.
A study conducted in 2007 discovered that dietary calcium has more beneficial impact on the health of the bones than calcium supplements in postmenopausal women.
Another study found that calcium supplements are linked to a increased number of heart attacks in women during their postmenopausal period.
A meta-analysis from 2010 revealed that calcium supplements (without the coadministration of vitamin D) are linked to greater heart attack risks.
The National Osteoporosis Association claims that food is the best calcium source: “People who consume the recommended dose calcium from their food don’t need calcium supplements. They may still need to take vitamin D supplements. Having excess calcium from supplements can increase the risks of kidney stones as well as other health issues.”
“Calcium supplements are widely accepted by the public and the doctors, on the basis that they are natural and thus safe way to prevent osteoporotic fractures,” stated the scientists, led by Sabine Rohrmann, from the institute of preventative and social medicine in the University in Zurich.
“Now it’s clear that consuming calcium in one or two doses a day is not natural, because it doesn’t offer the equal metabolic impact as the calcium found in food,” they explained.
The majority of supplements today have calcium carbonate which is inferior to calcium and producers add a chelating agent such as citric acid so they can make it absorbable, but the end product is much more inferior to the other calcium supplements like calcium orotate – the only known type of calcium that can efficiently penetrate into the cell membranes.
Another little known fact is the myth supported by industry for dairy products that taking pasteurized dairy like cheese or milk increases the level of calcium. But this is completely false. The process of pasteurization only produces calcium carbonate, which cannot enter into the cells if there is no chelating agent. Thus, our body pulls the calcium from our bones as well as other tissues so it can buffer the level of calcium carbonate in our bloodstream. Actually, this process can cause osteoporosis. Cheese and milk will definitively not help you if they are pasteurized.
Magnesium and Raising Awareness
Recent data from Prof. Steven Abrams and the colleagues from the Baylor College in Houston showed that magnesium absorption and intake during the childhood are the main predictors of the total bone density and mineral content – while the intake of dietary calcium wasn’t significantly linked to such measures.
“The intake of dietary magnesium may be a very important, but relatively unrecognized, factor for the accretion of bone mineral in children,” the scientists revealed.
“Numerous nutrients are essential for healthy bones in children. It seems that one of them is magnesium,” stated Abrams. “Calcium is also important, but, only for those who have low intake. For everyone else, it may not be as important as magnesium.”
Researchers stated that parents have been advised to make sure that their children have a good calcium intake in order to have healthy and strong bones. But, the significance of other minerals important for the health of the bones, like magnesium, is not promoted enough.
Abrams and his colleagues suggested that soon the parents will be urged to make sure their children also take more magnesium.
Increased intake of magnesium is significantly associated with higher density of bone mineral in women and men. There is about 2% increase in bone mineral density in the whole body for every 100mg a day magnesium increase.
Osteoporotic fracture is a serious health issue in aging people, says Doctor Kathryn Ryder, from the University of Tennessee. Given that there is a high prevalence of fractures linked to low BMD, even the slightest improvements in the bone mineral density can have a great effect on the public health.
Magnesium is less-studied component of the bone that can play a major role in bone strength and calcium metabolism, the researchers add.
In the largest part of human history, the magnesium to calcium ratio in the diet was 1:1, which is the optimal ratio. The ratio between 1:1 and 1:2 is appropriate (for example, 400 milligrams of magnesium to 800 milligrams of calcium). Sadly, nowadays the diets contain about ten times more calcium than magnesium.
Magnesium can be found in various forms. Chloride or magnesium oxide is okay, as is the case with chelated magnesium. The capsules usually have 200-500 milligrams of magnesium. Also, you can use a magnesium/calcium supplement. Experiment with the levels. The Recommended Daily Dose for magnesium is about 350-400 milligrams a day, even though for optimal levels, you need twice the amount.
The best thing to do is take magnesium in smaller doses during the day. Take it with meals or on an empty stomach. Also, you can add Epsom salt in your baths—this is magnesium sulfate. It is absorbed through the skin so it is a great way to replenish the magnesium stores.
Just 1% of the magnesium in the body is in the bloodstream, so when the levels decrease the organism will use it from the tissues and bones. This means that you can have magnesium deficiency but the blood test could show normal reading.
The best way to consume magnesium is through food. Some dietary sources of magnesium are cacao, leafy green vegetables, nuts and seeds.