If you’re taking calcium supplements, it’s a good idea to know exactly what you are putting in your body. Here’s some calcium facts to chew over – thanks to the SaveOurBones.com website.
- The name “calcium” is derived from Latin.
Calx or calcis is Latin for “lime.” This makes sense since calcium is extracted from limestone, and also from marble and chalk. Of the elements that make up the earth’s crust, calcium is the fifth most abundant one.
In nature, calcium is never found in its pure form; its molecular structure causes it to attach itself to other elements to form compounds. This is why you usually see calcium referred to with another element in the name: calcium carbonate, calcium citrate, calcium sulfate, and so forth. Because of this binding characteristic, calcium is used in industry to remove oxygen, sulfur, and carbon from alloys.
- Diets high in animal protein and phosphorous-rich foods like soft drinks and cow’s milk inhibit calcium absorption.
Animal protein is acidifying, and the body therefore uses calcium to neutralize the acidic environment caused by its consumption, especially when bicarbonate reserves are depleted. So in essence, the calcium that is used to neutralize the acid never makes it into your bones.
Phosphorus, which is found in acidifying foods and beverages like soft drinks (phosphoric acid) and cow’s milk, also has an detrimental effect. The debilitating effects of phosphorous on bone are well-documented – the jaw disease known as osteonecrosis of the jaw (ONJ) was once called “phossy jaw” because of its clear correlation with phosphorous exposure. And of course, the most widely-prescribed osteoporosis drugs are phosphorous-based bisphosphonates, which artificially alter bone metabolism, making it brittle and prone to fracture.
- Calcium from vegetables is better absorbed than calcium in cow’s milk.
A recent study compared the absorption rate of calcium from kale and from milk, and the results were clear: the calcium from kale was absorbed at a rate of 40.9%, whereas the calcium from milk was absorbed at a rate of 32.1%. Kale is an especially good plant source for calcium absorption because of its low oxalate content.
- You lose calcium from your bones as you sleep.
Interestingly, calcium loss occurs at a higher rate during the night, with women losing more as they sleep than men. According to a study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, this may be due to a difference between the sexes’ parathyroid (PTH) levels at night. PTH monitors blood calcium levels, and men tend to increase their PTH production at night, whereas women do not.