It is generally believed that strong teeth and bones requires the intake of calcium. In fact, milk is consumed as for the calcium as the protein. Older adults in fear of bone loss or osteoporosis (a painful and debilitating disease marked by calcium loss and bone deterioration) consume large amounts of calcium to delay or prevent bone loss or osteoporosis. However, taking large amounts of calcium to prevent bone loss or osteoporosis may be causing more harm than good. Excess calcium in the body can actually become toxic leading to painful conditions. So, is calcium the answer to strong teeth and bones? As with mmost things the answer is more complicated than yes or no. Read the article below by Bart Walton, M.Ac, L.Ac, and discover that the missing ingredient may be magnesium and it’s ratio to calcium.
Calcium vs. magnesium: The key is balance
Sound Consumer | March 2004
by Bart Walton, M.Ac., L.Ac.
(March 2004) — People in the United States consume more calcium supplements than any other group on earth. And if that’s not enough, additional calcium is added to our cereals, our fruit juices, our crackers, our antacids and many other processed foods. Yet the United States ranks among nations with the highest incidence of osteoporosis — a painful and debilitating disease marked by calcium loss and bone deterioration. How is this possible? Are we missing something?
About 30 or 40 years ago, doctors began routinely prescribing calcium to many men and almost all women over the age of 40 to counter the effects of bone loss due to aging. The conventional wisdom was that bone loss is due to calcium deficiency. Yet after 40 years, it has become evident that taking calcium alone does not stop or even slow bone loss and does not prevent osteoporosis.
The new wisdom now emerging is that magnesium is actually the key to the body’s proper assimilation and use of calcium, as well as other important nutrients. If we consume too much calcium, and without sufficient magnesium, the excess calcium is not utilized correctly and may actually become toxic, causing painful conditions in the body.
Many researchers and nutritionists now believe magnesium is more important than calcium in order to maintain healthy bones. In addition, magnesium is responsible for more than 300 biochemical reactions, all necessary for optimum health. Magnesium plays a vital role in digestion, energy production, muscle contraction and relaxation, bone formation and cell division. In addition, magnesium is a key nutrient in the proper functioning of the heart, the kidneys, the adrenals and the entire nervous system.
Shopping for calcium-magnesium supplements
PCC’s calcium/magnesium supplements have various ratios of calcium and magnesium to choose from.
Other questions to decide: do you want a tablet, chewable or not? Or a capsule? For people who don’t like pills, PCC sells a liquid calcium-magnesium supplement. Is the calcium and magnesium chelated? It means the minerals are easier to absorb. Some practitioners recommend taking calcium with vitamin D to increase absorption. Several of PCC’s formulations include vitamin D.
Most calcium and magnesium supplements contain a ratio of two parts calcium to one part magnesium. The logic behind this ratio is based on the relative amounts of these nutrients used in the body. But in order to determine how much we might need to take as a supplement, we should consider how much of these nutrients we are getting in our food and how they are stored and recycled in the body.
For example, the body tends to hold calcium and either store it or recycle it again and again. Magnesium, however, is either used up or excreted and must be replenished on a daily basis. So, even though the daily need for calcium is greater, we are much more likely to become deficient in magnesium.
- muscle tension or spasms
- muscle cramps
- heart palpitations
- calcification of tissues or joints
- nervousness or irritability
If you are taking a mineral supplement, it’s also important to consider the form you are taking. In a typical calcium or magnesium tablet, the body can absorb and assimilate only about 10 to 15 percent. In the form of a mineral citrate, in which the mineral is combined with citric acid, the body can absorb a much greater amount. If you mix the mineral citrate in warm water and let stand for 10 minutes until it is fully dissolved, you’ll absorb the minerals very quickly and your body will feel the difference. And if you are taking calcium or magnesium in this form, you don’t have to take nearly as much as with other forms in order to get the same benefit.
I recommend magnesium and calcium citrate as the preferred form. If you believe you might be deficient in magnesium, I suggest taking magnesium citrate alone (without any calcium) for one to three months. Some manufacturers are now producing these minerals together in a reverse ratio of two or three parts magnesium to one part calcium. I suggest this ratio for the longer term. If your diet is reasonably balanced, a modest supplementation will help to maintain adequate levels and more important, the correct balance of these important minerals.
Bart Walton, M.Ac. is a Washington State licensed acupuncturist with a private practice in the Green Lake area of Seattle. Bart has a master of acupuncture degree from Northwest Institute of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine and specializes in Japanese style acupuncture and moxibustion. Over the last 20 years, Bart has traveled extensively in Asia, studying the use of herbs, diet and lifestyle in traditional medicine. Bart may be contacted at 206-527-9672 or firstname.lastname@example.org.