Calcium and Bone Degeneration

Andrew Chan, R.H.N., DOMP, B.S.c., DO(Euro)
Registered Holistic Nutritionist
Osteopathic Manual Practitioner

Here are the Top 5 common Bone Degeneration Factors:

  1. Aging
  2. Genetic Factors
  3. Wear and Tear (high impact)
  4. Insufficient Intake of Nutrients such as Calcium  
  5. Imbalance of Absorption and Resorption

Let’s talk about Calcium! What is it?

  • A strong and hard mineral
  • Strengthens your bones and teeth
  • Very important mineral in human metabolism
  • Found in products such as Chalk (primarily contains calcium carbonate)

What does it do?

Aside from making our bones strong, Calcium helps to control our muscles and nerve function, such as regulating heart rate and muscle contraction. When purchasing supplements, Calcium often comes in various forms, such as Carbonate, Citrate, Citrate-Malate, Ascorbate, Phosphate, and Lactate. The Calcium that’s right for you will depend on your overall body and medical conditions.

Calcium Carbonate

This form works like an antacid by lowering the amount of “acid” in your stomach. You can find this in any supplement store. It’s great if you have symptoms that are caused by too much stomach acid, such as an upset stomach or heartburn. The bioavailability, which is the amount that can be absorbed by your digestive system, depends on how the tablet was made (ranges from 15-40% absorption).

Calcium Citrate

Calcium is best absorbed in an acidic environment and “Citrate” is exactly just that, an organic acid. To make this very simple, this form works best if you have low/normal stomach acid. If you have upset stomach, heartburn, or symptoms of high stomach acid, this form of Calcium may not be ideal for you as it may aggravate your overall symptoms. Being easy to absorb, you can find this everywhere and its bioavailability ranges from 20-40% absorption.

Calcium Citrate-Malate

Citrate-Malate dissolves very well in water. Once it is dissolved, the calcium is absorbed directly into the intestinal cells and passes between the intercellular (picture a bridge) space “between” cells. It has a higher bioavailability of over 35%, although more research is needed on that matter. Like Calcium Citrate, if you have low to normal stomach acid then this is friendly for you, but if you have high stomach acid then it is best to avoid this form.

Calcium Ascorbate

This formula contains Calcium and Vitamin C. By adding Vitamin C (Calcium form), it lowers the “acid” in this formula making it less irritating to those with high stomach acid symptoms.

Calcium Phosphate

This formula I would only recommend if my client has phosphorus deficiency. In my 8 years of practicing, I have only encountered one person with that condition. If you consume a lot of phosphorus foods like packaged and processed meats and soda, this may not be ideal for you. Phosphorus is like a two-edged sword. We need it to make our bones strong and maintain cells to function, however, over consumption can be harmful for the kidneys especially to those that have chronic kidney problems or failure.

Calcium Lactate

You can make this formula by mixing Calcium Carbonate and Lactic acid (found in cheese, kefir etc.). Just like Calcium Carbonate, it works as an antacid. Its bioavailability is the same if not close to Calcium Carbonate- or you can just drink a glass of milk.

How much Calcium should we take?

Adults aged 19-50 need 1000 mg of calcium each day or 2 servings of milk or alternatives. Adults age 51 and older should aim for an intake of 1200 mg of calcium every day, or 3 servings of milk and alternatives.

Now that we have finished talking about the different types of Calcium, let’s move on! Remember, that just because you are taking Calcium, it doesn’t mean you will 100% utilize it without the help of Vitamin D3 and K2!

Calcium absorption begins in the digestive tract with the help of Vitamin D. Vitamin K2 directs Calcium into our structural system”

I previously stated in the Top 5 Common Bone Degeneration Factors, “Imbalance of absorption and resorption”. What does it mean?

Osteoblast (bone cell) = Absorption = Building new bones

*picture them as builders or renovation contractor

Osteoclast (bone cell) = Resorption = Break down of bones for calcium

*picture them as the demolition machines

Bone Degeneration is caused by an increase of Resorption (breakdown) and a decrease of Absorption (building new).

How do we build new bones?

Believe it or not, exercise. Light to moderate low-impact exercise stimulates bone absorption. It can be as simple as doing 30 jumping jacks daily, walking up the stairs, 30-45 minutes of walking, etc. For an individualized analysis, we will look at your age, fitness and medical conditions to provide you corrective measures. Aside from exercise, corrective mechanics (posture) also helps. Poor mechanics affect the way we walk, thus using more energy and creating more wear and tear on our joints.

Nutritional and Mechanical Assessment is the key to finding out the best course of action. I will develop a plan that is designed specifically for you!

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