Ounce of Prevention | The dangers of calcium
Calcium is the most abundant mineral in the body and is vital for healthy vascular, skeletal, muscular, nervous, and hormonal function. The body has large reserves of this mineral and stores 99 per cent of its calcium in the bones and teeth.
Aided and abetted by the powerful dairy industry, calcium has long been one of the most strongly promoted dietary supplements. The medical profession and the media constantly advise women to take calcium supplements and to consume more calcium-rich dairy products. But this milky white mineral has a darker side.
Published medical research shows that taking calcium supplements only may actually increase the risk of cardiovascular disease. One study showed that people taking calcium supplements alone were about twice as likely to have a heart attack. The misguided press actually used this report to label all supplements as dangerous. I think they intentionally missed the point.
CALCIUM MAY BE TOXIC
As mentioned before, most of the body's calcium is in the bones and teeth, but as we age, more and more calcium leaves the skeleton and moves into the soft tissues. This process, called calcification, promotes disease and premature ageing, as excess calcium inside the cells is toxic. Calcium belongs mostly outside of the cells, and calcium in the wrong place spells danger.
When calcium accumulates in the walls of blood vessels, hardening of the arteries occur and high blood pressure develops. Calcium is the main mineral in the plaque that blocks blood vessels and leads to heart attacks and strokes, but poor cholesterol has been made the scapegoat. Heart specialists use special tests to determine the amount of extra calcium in the heart (a calcium score). The higher your calcium score, the greater your risk of a heart attack. Painful conditions like heel spurs and bursitis often indicate calcium deposited in the wrong places.
Cancer specialists also look for the presence of excess calcium in the female breast when searching for breast cancer. Harvard doctors found that men who drank two or more glasses of milk a day were almost twice as likely to develop advanced prostate cancer. A further study found that men with the highest calcium intake had nearly double the risk of developing fatal prostate cancer.
MAGNESIUM to the RESCUE
Doctors using nutritional medicine do not recommend taking calcium alone, but combine it with magnesium, ideally one part of magnesium to two parts of calcium. This is because magnesium is nature's calcium channel blocker. There are actually channels or pathways through which calcium travels to enter into the cells. The mineral magnesium regulates those channels and blocks excess calcium from getting into the soft tissues. Magnesium deficiency can dangerously elevate calcium levels in cells and tissues.
Millions of people around the world every day take expensive, often dangerous drugs called calcium channel blockers to treat high blood pressure and heart disease without paying any attention to nature's simple option - magnesium. If calcium supplements do increase the risk of heart attack and stroke, it may have to do with magnesium deficiency. The Department of Agriculture reports that more than half of the American public suffers from inadequate magnesium intake.
So when taking calcium supplements, combine it with magnesium and eat magnesium-rich foods like greens, soy, nuts and seeds, and drink spring water.
Nature uses another tool to keep excess calcium out of your arteries and tissues - a form of vitamin K called K2. Green, leafy vegetables in the diet provide vitamin K1 and important bacteria in the colon convert K1 into the active K2. Unfortunately, our modern diet is vitamin K-deficient and almost all older people now have calcification of their brain, heart valves, arteries and glands. Vitamin K2 keeps calcium in the bones while locking it out of the cells, the tissues and artery walls.
Researchers found that people with the highest intake of vitamin K2 cut their risk of dying from heart disease or stroke by 50 per cent. Those with low vitamin K2 levels have blocked arteries and damaged heart valves. Taking vitamin K2 also reduced bone fractures in women by over 80 per cent.
Although taking enough calcium is important, it is not absorbed well if your supply of vitamin D is inadequate. Vitamin D greatly improves calcium absorption from the gut and puts it in the right places - the bones and teeth. I recommend regular sun exposure plus supplementing with vitamin D3 for proper calcium balance.
Aim to consume about 1200mg of calcium daily from supplements and healthy sources, which include spring water, green, leafy vegetables, soy, legumes, and nuts. However, do not neglect magnesium, vitamin K2, and vitamin D3.
A very powerful treatment for reversing the harmful calcification of our organs and tissues as we age is chelation therapy. This treatment involves the administration of a chelating agent by a specially trained physician. The best-documented form of chelation therapy is intravenous chelation, in which the chelating agent, along with various vitamins and minerals, is given directly into a vein in the doctor's office.
It dramatically improves blood flow by reversing the calcification of blood vessels while also eliminating other very toxic minerals like lead, aluminium, and cadmium. It is, in fact, a powerful anti-ageing and detoxifying therapy whose value has been documented by studies funded by the National Institute of Health in the US. Mainstream medicine, however, has been strangely silent on this subject, though useful information can be readily obtained from The American College for Advancement in Medicine (acam.org).
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