Calcium and Osteoporosis

“I take calcium so I don’t have to worry about osteoporosis.”

There are actually 17 nutrients that are critical for bone health, and calcium is just one of them. Calcium is the most abundant mineral found in the body, and is responsible for many things beyond bone. These include but are not limited to, nervous system function, regulation of heart rate, development of teeth, and facilitating blood to clot.

 

There is however a misconception that large amounts of calcium supplementation can be the answer to the osteoporosis problem. A problem that has led many to take calcium dietary supplements in excess, which not only fails to solve the bone health problem but creates other adverse health conditions such as increased risk of kidney stones (Curhan, et al., 1997). Researchers have not drawn conclusive ecidence as to why the supplemented calcium cannot be used by the body effectively in all cases. Either these building blocks are difficult for the body to use in their refined state, or cannot be digested in excess when delivered to the body via many of the current supplement release systems. There are numerous calcium supplements that have a slower release in the body which may in turn not increase the chances of kidney stones,. These supplements also deliver to the body the necessary building blocks to facilitate the needs of the bone mass, as well as other organs and functions of the body.

Deutsch: Lokalisation von durch Nierenstein he...

Localisation of pain caused by kidney stones (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Even when the body is given all of the proper nutrients for bone health, these are just building blocks. The function of bone tissue increasing in mass, or gaining in density, is using these building blocks only as an adaptive response to a stimulus. So without the stimulus for the adaptive response, the body cannot use these building blocks. The function of bone mass density generation involves axial bone loading. Once intense loading happens, the bone “cell” genesis (osteoblast) begins to retain minerals and the bone mass becomes more dense.

This adaptive response can be compared to muscular development. For example, an individual can consume all of the proper nutrients and a balanced diet, even supplement for sports performance with protein, but if no exercise is done, no muscle is gained.

Conversely if the body is given the proper stimulus, calcium is the most important building block the body needs for proper bone remodeling. This means the natural process of creating newer bone mass and allowing older bone mass to dissolve so its nutrients can be used for other functions of the body. Calcium is critical to health and therefore important we receive the proper levels of this vital nutrient. Natural sources are always preferred, however, when this is not convenient supplementation is an option.

Source:

Curhan, G.C., Willett, W.C., Speizer, F.E., Spiegelman, D., & Stampfer, M.J. (1997). Comparison of dietary calcium with supplemental calcium and other nutrients as factors affecting the risk for kidney stones in women. Annals of Internal Medicine April 1, 1997 126:497-504.

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