Now you are all caught up – let’s dive into part 4: The calcium consensus.
There are 3 broad categories of things that affect the calcium balance in your body:
- The amount of calcium (and other nutrients which promote bone deposition) in the diet.
- The type of calcium you’re eating
- How well your body absorbs the nutrients (this depends on…)
- The state of your gut (eg. Do you have something like celiac disease or some other food intolerance)
- How many factors which promote excretion (loss of calcium) from the body are in your diet or lifestyle.
- Your gender and age.
You can’t change your gender or your age. And we’ve discussed the controversies and point 1 previously both here and here. My preference when it comes to issues where there is some ambiguity about what to do is to go where there is a consensus eg. I ask the question: “what do all the people who disagree about … actually agree on?” and I take it from there. So when it comes to calcium, the common thing that the people who think you should supplement and the people who think you don’t need to supplement agree on are the things which enhance the absorption and or reduce absorption or increase excretion of calcium from the body.
These things are also more easy to identify.
From the sources I’ve researched the following factors are things which can influence calcium absorption and calcium losses.
You might notice the asterisk on the above table next to protein. Well, the protein thing is interesting. As far as I can gather from research it seems the main problem with protein is eating too much or not enough, so if you’re sticking to the RDI for protein you should be fine.
So what can you do to maximise your absorption and minimise your calcium losses?
The easiest things that you can change right now based on the above list is to:
- avoid excessively salty foods in your diet (generally the most sodium in your diet is coming from eating out, junk foods, and packaged foods. The salt you sprinkle at the table is usually a relatively small amount of the total sodium in your diet – so if you can minimise and cut down the salt you’re adding during cooking (sorry all the chef shows out there) and add a sprinkle at the table, you’ll be minimising the salt in your day.
- reduce your caffeine intake (or even better- cut it out completely)
- and reduce the phosphorus in your diet by taking the soft drinks out of your diet (if you want some good alternatives you could check out the ideas in this episode here).
In addition to the above, you can ensure you have good vitamin D levels (actually get this checked as just because you’re in the sun each day it doesn’t necessarily mean your levels will be right, especially if you follow the Slip Slop Slap guidelines). Also, make an effort to do some weight bearing exercise each day too as this can help with bone health and actively work toward reducing stress in your life. Now stress and stress reduction is a WHOLE separate discussion and as it’s something I’ve been thinking a lot about over the last few years (hello 2 kids in 2 years, completing study, starting a clinic, having my mother in law pass away and starting a web TV show… I feel diving into this topic is something that’s going to be relevant to more than a few people! So that wraps up our calcium discussion and our nutrients summaries for a little while (we’ll get back to these later in the year but there are some other things I want to chat about more before we come back to these) so expect a few more new discussions starting and coming your way soon if you’re on the newsletter list!
- Davis,B., Melina, V. and Berry, R. (2010)Becoming Raw. The essential guide to raw vegan diets. Book Publishing Company, USA
- Gropper, S., Smith, JL., Groff, JL. (2009) Advanced nutrition and human metabolism (international student edition)(5th Edn). Wordsworth, Cengage Learning USA.
- Mangels, R., Messina, V. and Messina, M. (2011) The Dietician’s Guide to Vegetarian Diets: Issues and applications (4th Ed). Jones & Bartlett Learning USA.