The Calcium/Magnesium Controversy

It seems everyone is confused about how much calcium is adequate and whether or not we need supplementation in the diet. Women, as well as men, past the age of fifty begin to hear their physicians saying, "be sure to take some extra calcium. "

If we dissect even the average American diet, we would find there is plenty of calcium in the foods we eat. Yet, in spite of this ,many people continue to show low serum calcium levels and suffer the affects of diseases related to poor calcium utilization in the body­­ including osteoporosis. So, if calcium is prevalent in the diet and the average American is taking some form of calcium supplementation, why are our bodies unable to utilize this much needed mineral? There are actually several reasons; let's take a look.

1. Calcium, as is the case with all minerals, is not easily digestible by the body. As we age and our "fires" of digestion weaken, the body's ability to break down and assimilate minerals from food is further diminished.

2. Much of the calcium sold as supplements for human consumption is simply unusable by the body. The body simply cannot chemically reduce it for assimilation by the cells. The calcium in Tums is a classic example. Yes, Tums are high in calcium but not in a form that is usable by the body at the cellular level. You also hear experts say to put the calcium in a glass of vinegar water and if it dissolves in 20 minutes it's a good calcium. I disagree. That is a physical reaction. It does not guarantee that the calcium will be assimilated into the cellular structure.

3. Calcium and magnesium are the dynamic duo in the body; they literally follow one another electronically. Calcium cannot be held in solution­­ that is to say in bodily fluids or blood without adequate magnesium.

So, whether you are supplementing your diet with extra calcium or not you need to be taking some magnesium. Otherwise you're more than likely adding to calcium deposits in joints (spurs) or kidney stones, or some other process the body uses for dumping excess calcium it cannot use.

How much magnesium is enough? The ratio of calcium to magnesium used to be two parts calcium to one part magnesium. Now most experts in clinical nutrition agree that it needs to be equal parts calcium to magnesium. This is also based on studies that show the western diet is severely lacking in potassium, manganese and magnesium.

When purchasing supplements, buy only high quality supplements from a health food store like Cornucopia or from a health care professional. Ask or look for a balanced calcium/magnesium supplement. If you are getting enough magnesium and calcium is drawn back into the blood stream, you'll notice things like improved sleep, less muscle stiffness, pain or hardness in the muscles. If symptoms do not improve you may want to experiment with a magnesium supplement. I personally like and recommend a liquid magnesium supplement I get from the Cardiovascular Research Co.

Read the label. Look for calcium gluconate with magnesium aspartate, or a chelated supplement. No Tums please! If we're going to use these supplements, let's use the ones that will really help. You body will say thank you for years to come.

Till next time, Rebecca.

This article posted to Zephyr online August 21, 1997
Back to the Zephyr home
page.Send us e