Can you take too much calcium? – By Dr. Holly

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Dr. Holly
Dr. Holly
Dr. Holly

The authorities have been telling us for ages that we need more calcium.  Why?  The focus is usually on “Osteoporosis” – when the bones become less dense and more likely to break.

However, calcium is important for a number of functions in the body:

  • Required for strong bones – the stronger the bone/tooth in childhood, the stronger it will be throughout life; in addition, the more weight bearing exercise we do in our young adulthood, the stronger our bones will be throughout life
  • Required for healthy teeth – calcium is necessary for strong tooth enamel
  • During adulthood we have periods we need more calcium – during pregnancy, lactation, healing from wounds or surgery
  • Required by the neurons to release neurotransmitters
  • Required by the muscles to contract – muscles will often twitch if there is an insufficient supply of calcium
    • Magnesium is involves in muscle relaxation
    • So we need a healthy balance of both
  • One particular muscle that requires significant calcium levels is the heart
  • Required for proper blood clotting

How does the body regulate the required levels of calcium?

  • First place for regulation starts in the gut – the intestines will absorb less if you have too much
  • The parathyroids monitor the levels of calcium in the blood:
    • If there is too much they send out a hormone to tell the bones to stop turning over
    • In addition, Vit D is stimulated and provokes the gut to absorb more calcium
    • If there is too little the parathyroids send out the “parathyroid hormone” which will:
      • Provoke bones to release more calcium; too much release will lead to osteoporosis
      • Provoke the kidneys to absorb more calcium
      • Provokes the intestines to absorb more calcium

We can lose our required calcium levels because of:

  • Problems with the parathyroid glands (which regulate calcium levels):
    • Removal
    • Damage (can be caused by thyroid surgery)
  • Diet:    Low levels of magnesium
    • Low levels of Vitamin D
  • Drugs – chemotherapy
  • Kidney disorders

The problem with too much calcium:

  • Interferes with the absorption of phosphorus & competes with other minerals important for strong bones
  • Cardiovascular disease & ischemic heart disease, strokes and heart attacks
  • Because calcium travels in the blood, we can get calcium deposits almost anywhere in the body:
    • Arteries – if the plaque ruptures, a blood clot can form & cause a heart attack
    • Joints/tendons – knee joints & rotator cuff tendons
    • Brain – called cranial calcification
    • Brest tissue – predominantly in women
    • Kidney – may be expressed as kidney stones (calcium oxalate stones)
  • Calcium deposits may occur because of:
    • Injury or surgery
    • Infection
    • Radiation or shock wave treatment (to break up stones)
    • Autoimmune disorders

So how do we know whether we are taking too little or too much? 

  • Know what the symptoms can be
    1. Numbness in fingers and toes
    2. Muscle cramps
    3. Convulsions
    4. Fatigue
    5. Loss of appetite
    6. Irregular heart rhythms
  • Make sure you are eating foods that are a good source of calcium
    1. Green leafy vegetables: watercress, kale, dandelion & turnip  greens, arugula, collards
    2. Vegetables: broccoli, bok choy (made sure it is NOT grown in China), green beans
    3. Dairy: low fat cheese, low fat milk & yogurt
    4. Fish: canned fish in particular (sardines, salmon, anchovies, shrimp)
    5. Nuts: almonds

Remember, when you get your nutrients in a WHOLE, ORGANIC, NON-GMO real food – you also get the other nutrients required to metabolize and absorb the given compound you are interested in.

Here’s to your health!

For more information, contact: Dr Holly at holly@choicesunlimited.ca
Disclaimer: This article provides general information only, and is not a substitute for the medical advice of your own doctor or other health care professional. This site is not responsible or liable for any diagnosis made by a user based on the content of this website. This site is not liable for the contents of any external internet sites listed, nor does it endorse any commercial product or service mentioned or advised on any of such sites. Always consult your own health care practitioner.