Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Calcium - Killer or Saviour

The first data along these lines was from Prof Reid Auckland University here in New Zealand. Originally published in the prestigious British Medical Journal, it was a summary of a number of selected trials involving 27,000 participants. He claimed that those who took a calcium supplement were 25% more likely to have a heart attack than those that relied wholly on food as a calcium source. He postulated that a large spike in blood calcium after taking the supplement caused the problem. The second data set was from Swiss university researchers who looked at 24,000 participants aged from 35-65 years of age and found similar results with a doubling of the heart attack rate in those taking a simple calcium supplement, this was published in Heart. Then just recently a Denmark university hospital group looked at 8 clinical trials with over 1,000 participants aged over 70 years. Here they found a significant increase in life expectancy from those taking calcium supplements.
Another recent study of 11 clinical trials covering 31,000 people 65 years and over found that Vit D supplementation when taken at 800 International Units per day reduced the risk of hip fractures by 30%
How do we explain all this? Critics say the trials were.
  • Trials specially selected to say what the researchers wanted
  • Didn't include or show effect of Vit D in the calcium trials
  • Were almost all with calcium carbonate or similar simple calcium compound
  • Used calcium alone - not along with other minerals that are critical to calcium uptake and bone health
All of the above may be correct, but when you look at the numbers and the standing of the researchers involved, it means we have to look closely at the result and try to work out just what does it mean, in practical terms, to the average older person who has concerns on both their bone health and their heart health.
Given the scientific data on osteoporosis available, we now know that low bone density affects almost all women after menopause and most men over 65.
Also we know this group is also at risk of heart attacks.
In my view there is a likely danger in taking a large dose of a simple calcium supplement on a regular basis. Ideally we should get our full calcium requirement from our diet. This is what Prof Reid recommends. Milk is probably the best means to do this; it contains the calcium in a complex form and has other minerals and proteins for bone health in it. With this combination you are unlikely to get the dangerous calcium blood spike. The problem is you probably need 4 large glasses a day to get your full calcium requirement.
However that in practical terms is not possible for all of us. So what should we do if we do need to take a calcium supplement to improve bone strength and avoid a fracture?
My recommendation is as follows.
  • Do not use a simple calcium compound such as calcium carbonate
  • Make sure Vit D3 is included
  • Make sure the other critical bone health minerals that affect uptake are included
  • Spread dose rate as much as possible - if dose is two capsules take morning and night - 3 take at lunch as well
  • Always take with food
Following these recommendations should give you the benefits of improved bone strength without increasing the risk of heart attack and increase life expectancy.
To find the right supplement is not too difficult, but it is more expensive than taking a simple cheap calcium carbonate or similar calcium compound. There is a wide range that fit the above criteria available on the Internet.
The best way to get the right blend of minerals is to use calcium hydroxyapatite. This in simple terms is bone itself. This in many trials has shown greater bone strengthening ability to the simple calcium compounds. The cheapest form is finely ground beef bone, produced in New Zealand from animals certified free of Mad Cow disease and exported worldwide. This is really taking calcium as food with collagen (protein) and a full critical mineral range in a complex combination. This finely ground whole bone is often referred to as MCHA.
Another form of calcium hydroxyapatite available commercially is from deer antler taken at a special stage of growth. This contains a special bioactive that increases bone strength.
Research on Red Deer stags growing antlers show that at a certain growth stage 30% of the calcium in the deer skeleton is transferred to the antlers in a matter of days. Research has isolated that growth phase and a product developed from hard antler harvested at this stage patented.
This product is not only better than most supplements at increasing bone strength but safer as well. It is really taking calcium as a complex food in small portions not as a supplement.

No comments:

Post a Comment