Too Much Calcium?

Is it necessary to take 1200-1500 mg of calcium per day as has been recommended over the years by various “experts”?  This recommendation has typically been aimed at reducing the risk of osteoporosis, or in some cases, of purportedly reversing osteoporosis.  But this assumes that osteoporosis is causes by a deficiency of calcium.  Isn’t that the general assumption?  Aren’t we all led to believe that if we take enough calcium when we are younger we will avoid the menacing plague of osteoporosis, or if we already have it, taking megadoses of calcium will reverse it or at least halt the progression of osteoporosis?  Sadly, this is just not the truth.

The truth is osteoporosis is a deficiency of bone – all of it.  This includes the calcium, the collagen, the phosphate and all the many other constituents of bone.  A deficiency of only calcium causes Osteomalacia, a softening of bone. In children this is known as Ricketts.   This is much less common than osteoporosis. 

So just what is the function of calcium regarding bone?  Calcium is necessary for the hardening properties of bone.  It is very important, but simply giving calcium will not build newer or stronger bone anymore than dropping off some lumber at a building site will cause a structure to go up.  There must be other materials and workers!

Osteoporosis has many causes.  These include hormone deficiencies (menopause etc.), inactivity, toxicities, nutrient deficiencies, celiac disease, excess alcohol consumption, hyperthyroidism,  homocystiene elevation, and inflammation to name a few.  At the Multi-Care Center we assess for all these factors to help us effectively treat osteoporosis. 

Recent research suggests that calcium supplementation increases the risk of heart attack.  How could this be? One explanation has to do with Vitamin K.  One very vital function of Vitamin K is to incorporate calcium into bone.  No vitamin K and calcium doesn’t get put into the bone. It’s that simple.  So, where does it go?  The arteries!  Calcium in arteries = “arteriosclerosis” and the risk of blood clotting (heart attack) that goes with it.  So if you are dumping megadoses of calcium into your body, and you are deficient in vitamin K (and we see this commonly), you are headed for hard arteries and soft bones! 

So in this clinic, we typically recommend supplementing 200-600 mg of calcium, depending on your diet and other factors.  And of course for osteopororis, we recommend much more than just a modest dose of calcium!