We tend to think of cal­cium as a cru­cial nu­tri­ent for bone health, but that’s just the tip of the ice­berg for this es­sen­tial min­eral

Better Nutrition - - N- VEMBER2017CONTENTS - BY VERA TWEED

Cal­cium Myths and Facts This es­sen­tial min­eral does a lot more than just sup­port bone health.

Cal­cium is im­por­tant for bone health, but it’s also es­sen­tial for the heart, nerves, hor­mones, ar­ter­ies, and mus­cles to work prop­erly. Yet it’s es­ti­mated that only 3 in 10 Amer­i­cans con­sume the rec­om­mended 1,000– 1,300 mg of cal­cium daily, and myths and con­fu­sion per­sist.

Myth #

Tak­ing ex­tra cal­cium will en­sure strong bones Cal­cium is cer­tainly es­sen­tial for bone health, but by it­self, it doesn’t guar­an­tee that bones will stay strong through­out life. A Bri­tish Med­i­cal Jour­nal anal­y­sis of 59 stud­ies that fol­lowed more than 13,000 peo­ple over age 50 found that ad­e­quate cal­cium, from ei­ther food or sup­ple­ments, in­creased bone min­eral den­sity by up to 1.8 per­cent in a year; how­ever, that wasn’t enough to pre­vent frac­tures. Strong bones also re­quire a whole- foods diet, reg­u­lar ex­er­cise, and sup­port­ing nu­tri­ents.

When el­derly peo­ple are defi cient in cal­cium and vi­ta­min D, tak­ing both sup­ple­ments can sig­nifi cantly im­prove the con­di­tion of their bones. A study of 3,800 women with an av­er­age age of 84 found that daily sup­ple­ments pro­vid­ing 1,200 mg of cal­cium and 800 IU of vi­ta­min D re­duced risk of hip frac­tures by 23 per­cent.

Th­ese are key nu­tri­ents that en­able cal­cium to fully do its job:

Vi­ta­min D is re­quired to en­able proper cal­cium ab­sorp­tion. Mag­ne­sium helps pre­vent bones from be­com­ing brit­tle and frag­ile. Vi­ta­min K helps en­sure that cal­cium is uti­lized in bones rather than de­posited in ar­ter­ies or kid­neys. Potas­sium from fruits and veg­eta­bles— at least as much as the daily sodium in­take— pre­vents ex­cess sodium buildup, which leads to cal­cium ex­cre­tion.

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