What About Calcium?

September 13, 2004

Question: If I am eating a healthy diet, do I need to take extra calcium supplements or drink more milk to prevent potential bone problems, as I get older?

Answer: Calcium, like Vitamin C, B6 and other isolated nutrients becomes an issue of nutritional concern when denatured foods are consumed in quantities that exceed wholesome natural foods and when there is an extreme imbalance among the basic macronutrients of carbohydrates, fats and proteins in one’s diet. When we consume large quantities of denatured foods (foods that are highly refined, processed and laden with preservatives) we will inevitably develop nutritional deficiencies. Nutritionally empty foods adversely affect metabolism, deplete enzyme and mineral reserves and contribute to numerous more specific deficiencies—nutritional voids that must be filled in order to regain nutritional balance.

The popular response to filling these nutritional voids is to saturate them with vitamin and mineral supplements. Many of the supplements available however are poor quality sources of synthetic nutrients that are marketed in the form of vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, anti-oxidants etc…sometimes, real foods with added vitamins are suggested also by nutritionists.

Taking calcium supplements without addressing the fundamental cause of the problem cannot solve the problem without creating more problems. The reason for this is that the more calcium supplements one takes the more magnesium is needed to balance the calcium. And it doesn’t stop there. Additional nutritional factors are needed to balance the combination of calcium and magnesium. Fats play a major role in the absorption of calcium too, so a healthy source of fats needs to be considered, and fats are dependent on protein, carbohydrate and other nutrients to be adequately absorbed and assimilated. So begins a vicious cycle of left brained linear thinking that ultimately leads to confusion and ultimately, an unresolved problem. Unfortunately, there isn’t a specific pill we can take to solve our nutritional problems. However, there are numerous pills we can take to help us forget, ignore and avoid dealing with these problems. These are being promoted twenty four seven on TV, in magazines and just about everywhere we look. Even with their often-lengthy lists of side effects and contraindications, there is no mention as to how the massive industry of pharmaceuticals is contributing to the depletion of our nutritional reserves.

Responding to the “calcium need” from the Energetics perspective we begin with the first governing law of Food Energetics, Quality and Quantity. Before attempting to fill the calcium deficiency void we first need to look at what is causing the void. Having established that denatured foods are devoid of vital minerals, including those foods containing synthetic vitamins added to enhance the products—and that these foods also have been shown to deplete minerals and other nutrients from the body—we then suggest better quality foods over all. From here, we then establish a sound dietary base, free from extreme points of view and grounded in common sense, history and tradition.

The next thing to consider is the quality of the varied sources of calcium available to us. Milk is the food commonly recognized and accepted as a source of calcium by most people as well as the food choice most often recommended by nutritionists for combating the calcium deficiency problem. Even though the food most often suggested by the “experts” as a source of calcium is milk, in its modern pasteurized, homogenized and anti-biotic saturated form; milk is devoid of enzymes and other vital substances that support the bioavailability of the nutrition it has to offer. Few people have access to raw milk and even if they did many are lactose intolerant. Another consideration with milk is the fact that cows milk contains approximately 82% casein and 18% whey whereas human breast milk contains approximately 40% casein and 60% whey. Casein proteins coagulate to form solid clumps while whey proteins tend to remain suspended in liquid. Casein is a bonding agent often used to make glue and other adhesives. With these unbalanced levels of whey and casein between human and cows milk it should be cause for wonder how bonded we might want to be to the source of the milk we choose to drink.

Cows milk is also very acidic with an average PH of 6.5. There are many other issues concerning milk to consider but the most important is that historically cows milk was rarely used as a beverage and when it was it was consumed raw. For the most part, among agricultural peoples milk was naturally processed and cultured to make suitable foods for human consumption. These include butter, cheese, yogurt, buttermilk etc. Even these foods are foods that should be consumed with appropriate accompaniments to insure proper digestion and assimilation. For example, wine, bread, apples, pears, olives, capers and a variety of fermented vegetables traditionally accompanied cheese…and you know about bread and butter. Other animal milks too have been sources of calcium. These include sheep and goat milks and products made from them, all of which have different effects from cow milk and its products. When I say different, I am not implying better. Rather, each milk-producing animal has its own unique qualities. Meeting our nutritional needs is a complementary process, a process that was worked out thousands of years ago through ancient wisdom and common sense.

While raw, naturally processed dairy products from grazing livestock have numerous redeeming qualities for many people, for many others, on a qualitative scale and due to traditions where it wasn’t a primary food, milk ranks low as a source of daily calcium. Other quality sources of calcium are nuts, seeds, dark leafy green vegetables, and some varieties of marine algae (seaweed). The difference between these and other whole foods and a calcium supplement is the synergy of all the other healthy ingredients involved in the whole foods when they are properly prepared and consumed.

For those unable to consume milk, due to lactose intolerance or allergies, the combination of healthy fats, proteins and carbohydrates found in seeds and nuts make them high quality traditional food choices for fulfilling calcium needs. Kale, collard greens, mustard greens, dandelion greens and other dark green vegetables also are great sources of calcium and they contain other vital, supportive and complementary nutrients as well. The bioavailability of the calcium in these green plants is enhanced when they are braised, sautéed, or stir fried with coconut, palm, olive oil or butter. These sources nutrition, with or without dairy products, when consumed on a regular basis can assist in solving the calcium issue along with several other nutritional deficiencies for many people. For many traditional peoples these foods are their primary sources of calcium and they have thrived on them for many generations. For others, raw, naturally processed dairy products from cows, goats, sheep and other animals have been primary sources of calcium for many generations. It is certainly ideal if we can consume a combination of these traditional foods without adverse reactions however, if not, we must choose a variety of the foods we are comfortable with before considering supplements.

In summary then, we can say, first find the reason for the calcium deficiency. Being a mineral, Calcium can be easily depleted from our bodies through the excess consumption of pharmaceuticals, sugar, coffee, tea, and denatured foods in general. Next, include more high quality food sources that contain natural calcium. This will be beneficial in several ways because these foods have additional nutrients that complement the absorption and assimilation of calcium and they are excellent and essential sources of nutrition to a healthy diet anyway. It is often said that calcium and magnesium work together in our cells. They are dependent on each other.

This is true and it is also true that both of these substances are dependent on fats, proteins, carbohydrates and other nutrition sources that synergistically work together to support a healthy human organism.

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