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Friday, April 22, 2005

Got Calcium?

Calcium: Calcium is the most abundant mineral in the body – we have two or three pounds of it, most of which is located in the bones and teeth. In addition to building bones and teeth, calcium is an electrolyte required for transmitting nerve signals, water balance, acid/alkaline balance and maintaining osmotic pressure. It helps the blood to clot and is necessary for the heart muscle function. It’s long been known that calcium will aid in the prevention of osteoporosis, but new studies are identifying calcium for it’s anticancer actions within the colon.

Most dietary calcium comes from dairy products but can also be found in sardines, canned salmon, green leafy vegetables and tofu. The National Academy of Sciences has raised the calcium guideline to 1,000 milligrams a day for people under 51, and to 1,200-1,500 milligrams a day for people over 51. Most Americans do not get enough calcium in their diets; the average daily amount is about 500-1,000 milligrams. Bariatric patients are unlikely to intake that much dietary calcium therefore supplementation is necessary. Not only are bariatric patients limited by the amount of dietary calcium they may consume, the malabsorption issue presents another problem. Since the bowel does not readily absorb calcium there is limited opportunity for the calcium to be absorbed in the body.

Bariatric patients can do three things to better assimilate calcium in the body:

First: take a chewable calcium supplement twice daily – and good news, these taste really good!

Second: exercise consistently.

Third: enjoy sunshine every day.

Chewable supplements taken twice daily will more rapidly dissolve and assimilate into the body. They should be 500 milligrams each; the body cannot absorb more than 500 milligrams at a time. The best supplements are calcium citrate, calcium carbonate and calcium lactate. Next, studies show that exercisers better assimilate calcium into the body than sedentary individuals. Even though US Astronauts take calcium supplements in orbit, they return to Earth calcium deficient; NASA believes lack of physical activity prevents their bodies from assimilating the calcium. Finally, get some sunshine. Twenty minutes a day of direct or indirect sunlight will give the body plenty of natural vitamin D, the “sunshine vitamin”, which is necessary for calcium assimilation.

Doing these three things will make you feel great today and will contribute to healthier living down the road. Osteoporosis is an epidemic in this country and is directly attributed to calcium deficiency. We all know that when an elderly person falls and breaks a hip death is imminent. Osteoporosis is nearly always the reason why hipbones break when older people fall. In the case of osteoporosis there is nothing the body can do to defend itself from the loss of calcium associated with aging. Supplementation is necessary throughout adulthood to prevent chronic loss of calcium. You have gone to the trouble to avoid an obesity related death: now you can do these three easy things to help your body avoid osteoporosis in old age. You deserve the gift of strong bones and healthy electrolyte process: give yourself some calcium everyday!

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