Plant-Based Calcium Vs. “Rock”-Sourced
Posted at 12:00 - June 20th, 2019 - Education Guides
Calcium is a critical mineral that is important not only for bone health, but for muscle and nerve function, blood pressure regulation, blood clotting, cellular health, and hormone regulation. It also protects nerve endings which make it a key player in pain management. This important mineral is required for a normal heartbeat.
Calcium facilitates communication between the brain and every part of your body while mediating the expansion and constriction of blood vessels (vasodilation and vasoconstriction). Finally, calcium helps with the release of insulin as well as stabilizing and optimizing various enzymes.
Due to these vital roles, the body monitors and maintains a constant level of calcium in the bloodstream. The body loses calcium through sweat, urine, hair and nails. If levels get too low, calcium will be taken from bones. Continued over time, bone density will suffer.
Both men and women will begin to lose 0.5–1% of their bone density or degree of bone mineralization per year starting around age 30. In women, the rate of loss will spike to 2–3% per year for the first 3–15 years following menopause.
Adequate intake of calcium is essential, so many people choose supplementation. Unfortunately, most main stream calcium supplements are derived from limestone. Other sources include carbonate, citrate, dolomite, di-calcium phosphate, tri-calcium phosphate, coral, oyster shell or bone meal. While they may have different names, they all have one thing in common: they are inorganic substances which the body is NOT able to fully recognize or absorb.
In order to be bioavailable, calcium supplements need to be made from plants such as algae which makes it organic in structure instead of the inorganic. Current research indicates that plant-derived calcium not only slows down bone loss, it can actually reverse it and help re-build bone density.
Researchers at Katsuragi Hospital in Japan recently completed a 2 year study in which they tested calcium from algae, calcium carbonate, and a placebo on elderly patients with osteoporosis. They found that the calcium from algae prevented new fractures and deformities, while the calcium carbonate was barely better than the placebo.
Large quantities of conventional (inorganic) calcium supplements can have negative health consequences. Excess amounts of this form of calcium collect in soft tissue, blood vessels, skin, eyes, joints, and internal organs as unusable deposits. It has also been found to lead to plaque and hardening of the arteries which may have serious repercussions for the heart.
Plants absorb and incorporate the inorganic calcium along with other minerals in the soil. The plants then transform the inorganic minerals into a form usable by the body. Since minerals are synergistic, calcium absorption and utilization requires additional minerals including magnesium, zinc, boron, strontium, silicon, vanadium and trace minerals.
The body also needs sufficient levels of Vitamin K, Vitamin D and trace minerals in order for calcium to be utilized by the body in building and maintaining bones. Without sufficient non-synthetic Vitamin K2, calcium can end up in arteries and soft tissue. Without sufficient Vitamin D, calcium absorption is greatly reduced.
- Algae actually “pre-digests” calcium which assists with absorption and getting faster results.
- Improved absorption allows for lower doses.
- Phosphorus found in acidifying foods and beverages like soft drinks and pasteurized cow’s milk has an detrimental effect on bone. One of the most widely-prescribed osteoporosis drugs is phosphorous-based bisphosphonates which artificially alters bone metabolism and may make it brittle and prone to fracture.
- In a recent study, kale was found to be an especially good plant source for calcium absorption because of its low oxalate content.
- Calcium loss occurs during sleep for women, according to a study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism.
- The body is not able to absorb more than 500mg of calcium at a time, so prescribed amounts beyond this level, along with inorganic forms, are problematic. That’s why large amounts taken in isolation are particularly dangerous – it simply increases the amount of unabsorbed calcium in your body. For example, the vast majority of kidney stones are comprised mostly of calcium oxalate.
3 Options for Plant-based, Rock-free Calcium
All Eureka Market Education Guides are intended for educational purposes only. The guides are NOT intended to substitute for professional medical consultation and as such, do not diagnose, prescribe or offer personal medical advice. Always consult with your health care professional before taking supplements with prescription medications.