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Osteoporosis: Are you getting enough Calcium or maybe too much?

Osteoporosis: Are you getting enough Calcium or maybe too much? | Mr Vitamins
Osteoporosis, marked by a loss of bone density, is becoming a major health issue affecting over 1 million Australians with a further 5.5 million people diagnosed with low bone density. Calcium is the most abundant mineral in your body with 99% being stored in your bones. It is vital for the normal development and maintenance of your bones. It is also essential for muscle contraction, nerve transmission, cardiovascular health, blood clotting and hormone function.

Who gets osteoporosis?

Both men and women can develop osteoporosis. Declining oestrogen levels during menopause in women can cause a decline in bone mass, from between 5% and 40%.

What are the risk factors for osteoporosis?

  • Family history of osteoporosis
  • Delayed puberty
  • Early menopause
  • Low testosterone (for men)
  • Continual use of corticosteroids including some asthma medications
  • Lack of exercise
  • Gastrointestinal conditions that impair nutrient absorption
  • Thyroid conditions
  • Kidney conditions, which effect excretion of nutrients
  • Liver conditions
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Insufficient bone mass development by the age of thirty
  • Some medications, such as statins and heartburn treatments
  • Low body weight
  • Mineralisation defects
  • Excessive alcohol consumption
  • Excessive coffee consumption
  • Soft drinks
  • Smoking
  • Lack of sunshine
  • Increasing age
  • Acidic diet
  • High-sodium foods

How much calcium do you need?

RECOMMENDED DAILY INTAKE OF CALCIUM
Children 1 to 3 years 500mg/day
Children 4 to 8 years 700mg/day
Boys and girls 9 to 11 years 1,000mg/day
Boys and girls 12 to 18 years 1,300mg/day
Men 19 to 70 years 1,000mg/day
Men older than 70 years 1,300mg/day
Women19 to 50 years 1,000mg/day
Women 51 onwards 1,300mg/day

How much calcium are you getting?

Calcium intake should come from your diet where possible. Calcium supplementation can be used to bring the daily intake up to the recommended daily allowance. Knowing how much calcium you are getting from your diet is a useful way of knowing how much extra calcium you need. See our article  Do you know how to get your daily recommended calcium?

What other factors influence bone density?

Other nutrients are also important for bone formation and re-absorption.
  • Vitamin D - (we are constantly being reminded about the growing deficiency of Vitamin D emerging from the need to cover up in our harsh Australian sun). Vitamin D is necessary for efficient calcium absorption.
  • Vitamin K – essential for maintaining bone density
  • Boron – aids in the synthesis of Vitamin D as well as oestrogen
  • Phosphorus – required for the mineralisation of bones and teeth
  • Magnesium – to assist with the absorption of calcium
  • Manganese – required for the synthesis of bone growth and cartilage
  • Zinc – required for bone formation
  • Silicon - promotes the formation of bones and teeth

What happens if I get too much calcium?

When the diet has a good supply of calcium and is topped up with excess from supplements, conditions such as constipation, bloating and kidney problems can occur. The effect of too much calcium can decrease absorption of iron, magnesium, and zinc.

What can you do to keep your bones healthy?

Healthy bone management requires a balanced mix of diet and lifestyle.  A regular exercise program, 20 minutes of sunlight, a healthy alkalising diet rich in calcium and calcium supplementation to reach the recommended daily allowance will help to delay the development of osteoporosis.
TIP: Caffeine, alcohol, soft drinks, smoking, high-sodium foods, statins, steroids and heartburn drugs can have a negative impact on bone health.

Janne Ramsay Naturopath photoJanne Ramsay Naturopath

Janne Ramsay is a Naturopath passionate about food as medicine.  She can assess your calcium intake; provide lifestyle recommendations and advice on how much calcium you need and the best way for you to get it. Learn more about Janne here

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