Magic min­eral


Good Health Choices - - Contents -


Named for calx – the Latin word for lime – and first dis­cov­ered more than 200 years ago in 1808, th­ese days cal­cium is most read­ily as­so­ci­ated with milk and healthy bones. But cal­cium sup­ports so much more than our skele­tons, and a wide va­ri­ety of foods are rich in this vi­tal min­eral. We talk with natur­opath and nutri­tion­ist Janella Pur­cell about how much cal­cium we need and how to en­sure our diet is full of the right foods to keep us fit, healthy and strong.

We al­ready know cal­cium is im­por­tant for bone health. What are some of the other ben­e­fits?

It can as­sist in the preven­tion of cramps, cancer and os­teo­poro­sis, as well as help­ing with blood clot­ting – and low-fat dairy sources can help break down fat. It also helps the body func­tion, ben­e­fit­ing the di­ges­tion process and the ner­vous sys­tem. Plus, it gives us en­ergy and healthy skin [and can also help us sleep – see page 28].

Is it true that an al­ka­line diet sup­ports strong bones?

An al­ka­line [plant-based] diet sup­ports every­thing, and acid, or in other words in­flam­ma­tion, is not good for our bones. An al­ka­line diet aims to keep the body’s pH slightly on the al­ka­line side; ad­vo­cates of this diet rec­om­mend peo­ple avoid re­fined foods like white flour and rice, trans fats, meat, dairy, cof­fee and al­co­hol, and con­sume more al­ka­line foods such as leafy greens, fresh veg­eta­bles, nuts and seeds.

Should we con­sider tak­ing cal­cium sup­ple­ments?

If your life­style or diet could be de­plet­ing your cal­cium lev­els, then you may need to con­sider sup­ple­ments, even if your diet con­tains a va­ri­ety of cal­cium-rich foods. Your lev­els could be

af­fected by pre­scrip­tion medicine, caf­feine, menopause, preg­nancy and lac­ta­tion.

Is there any­one who should avoid tak­ing cal­cium sup­ple­ments?

You only re­ally need to con­sider cal­cium sup­ple­men­ta­tion if you know you’re de­fi­cient or you’re in a high-risk group for de­fi­ciency. And be aware of other vi­ta­mins and min­er­als you need to boost your cal­cium: healthy bone for­ma­tion also de­pends on vi­ta­min D and vi­ta­min K2, both of which reg­u­late cal­cium me­tab­o­lism. There are also other min­er­als be­sides cal­cium in­volved in sup­port­ing bone health, such as sil­ica and mag­ne­sium.

If you have ad­e­quate lev­els of th­ese nu­tri­ents, and reg­u­larly per­form weight­bear­ing ex­er­cises, there may be no need for cal­cium sup­ple­ments.

Which foods, vi­ta­mins and min­er­als can in­hibit the body’s ab­sorp­tion of cal­cium?

It has been shown that an­i­mal pro­tein causes the body to ex­crete cal­cium more quickly than plant pro­tein. Cof­fee also has this ef­fect, as does an ex­cess of un­fer­mented soy prod­ucts such as soy milk and tofu – so don’t con­sume too much. You’ll also want to avoid too much re­fined sugar, any ar­ti­fi­cial sweet­en­ers, too much salt, cof­fee, cig­a­rettes, pro­cessed food and al­co­hol. The night­shade fam­ily of veg­eta­bles [toma­toes, cap­sicum, egg­plant, pota­toes, chill­ies] may also hin­der cal­cium ab­sorp­tion if eaten in ex­cess.

Ve­gan or­lac­to­sein­tol­er­ant?There are­plen­ty­of­dairy-free waysto­gete­nough cal­cium–seeourlist

be­low. of foods Be aware

of other min­er­als you need to boost your


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