One of the most important age groups, for the correct intake of this mineral in women, is between 14 and 24 when peak bone mass is obtained and this is why there is considerable concern among medical experts about the diets of teenage girls and young women.
There is much controversy on how women should be getting their calcium
While medical experts fear the future could bring an osteoporosis epidemic in women, those drugs designed to treat osteoporosis are dangerous and loaded with side effects. Prevention is definitely preferable. In addition, it is now said that osteoporosis is not due to a calcium deficiency.
Like many others, for years I religiously took a calcium supplement, believing it would strengthen my bones and improve my bone density. However, although calcium is important, it should be from a natural source such as your diet rather than popping a daily pill.
How calcium works
In young women, the bone continues to develop up until about age 35 to 40. Then whatever bone mass a woman has at that point will strongly determine how much at risk she may be for bone fractures in her later years.
Most people seem to know that we need calcium to strengthen our bones and our teeth and that this mineral is especially important for growth. Not everyone may know that calcium also ensures that everything runs smoothly with our muscles and nerves. Along with strong bones comes good joint health, helping to avoid the necessity for treatment for arthritis
in years to come.
Calcium is absorbed in our small intestine but to make this process successful, we also need Vitamin D and so many in the modern world have been found to be deficient in this "feel good" hormone. Our skeleton needs calcium to provide its rigid structure. Calcium becomes even more important in growing children, as their bones grow, and in the elderly, whose ability to absorb calcium becomes impaired with age. Medical studies reveal that one in three women and one in twelve men over the over the age of 50 suffer from osteoporosis. This is a painful and potentially crippling disease which is due to the loss of calcium in the bones. By the age of 50, up to 25% of the skeleton could be missing due to osteoporosis, increasing the risk of bone fractures, loss of height and the formation of a hump.
Nobody wants to be missing out on life as they age. And as we live longer and longer, the importance of calcium becomes even more apparent.
We can look on it as part of our pension and insurance scheme for our old age!
But we need to change to getting our calcium the natural way
- With calcium, it is a question of quality over quantity. Women who get their calcium from food have stronger bones because calcium from food is better absorbed and better utilized by your body than synthetic calcium from a pill.
- In fact, the very best source of calcium is from raw milk and other raw dairy products. Second on the list are dark green leafy vegetables – organic if possible and fresh from a local source such as your garden or farmers market.
Bone broth is another excellent source of calcium and other minerals. Bones are made of protein, minerals, and vitamins and the minerals present in bones include calcium, potassium, manganese, magnesium, silica, iron, zinc, selenium, boron, phosphorus, sulfur, chromium and many more. But for our bones to absorb these minerals, vitamin D must be present in the diet. Some vitamin A, E and K2 is also required.
Onions are high in gamma-glutamyl peptides that have been shown to increase bone density.
Vitamin D is very important for calcium absorption, so along with raw milk products and vegetables, you need to ensure plenty of safe sun exposure. That means as much skin as possible for at least 15 minutes per day (or until the skin starts to turn pink) in the warmer months between the hours of 10 am and 2 pm. The darker your skin, the longer you need. If this is impossible, and of course during winter, add a vitamin D3 supplement to your daily intake. Take the opportunity to be tested for your vitamin D level as many who were positive they received plenty of sunlight exposure have found they are deficient. Because of vitamin D's role in calcium absorption, adequate vitamin D levels help to prevent osteoporosis and hip fractures.
- Include plenty of omega-3 fats in your diet. Optimal fat intake equals healthy bones.
- Along with diet, comes the need for exercise as strengthening bone mass, including during puberty, will build a good foundation for the rest of your life. Exercise is even more important than calcium for building improved bone density in the young.
Avoid these if you don't want your calcium to disappear
- A diet full of processed foods. Such a diet will produce biochemical and metabolic conditions in your body that will decrease your bone density. Make a resolution to gradually remove all forms of processed and convenience foods from your diet.
- Don't be tempted to change to a low protein diet – your body needs protein because amino acids are part of the bone make up and if you don't consume enough, you can't make strong, dense bones. ideal proteins include organic free range eggs and poultry and meat from grass fed animals.
- Gluten has also been shown to decrease bone density and is a specific protein found in many grains – particularly wheat but also barley and rye.
- Sodas as, apart from the high and damaging levels of sugar or high fructose corn syrup, the phosphoric acid in sodas leaches out calcium.
- Refined salt is yet another monster on our dinner table. Please note that I said refined salt and not natural salt. The latter is actually healthy and needed by your body.
If you do have to take a calcium supplement especially during pregnancy, make sure it is balanced with magnesium chloride, vitamin D and vitamin K2. There is a delicate balance between all vitamins and minerals.
The key to good health is moderation and balance.