Monday, May 24, 2010

Too Much Calcium Can Be Harmful

Getting enough calcium is important, but like many things in the body, too little is bad and too much is bad — it has to be just right. Older people are especially vulnerable. Many senior citizens gobble up calcium supplements, not knowing — and neither do their doctors — that an excess can disrupt a number of important cell processes. (My report "Stop Aging Naturally" will give more in-depth ways to slow the relentless march of time.)

Too much calcium has even been associated with the following conditions:

• Cancer growth

• Migraine headaches

• Strokes

• Brain injury

• Damage by infections

• Immune function abnormalities

• High blood pressure (hypertension)

• Heart disease

• Diabetes

Calcium is one of the most important molecules that help carry chemical messages into the body's cells. In fact, it is the most abundant universal cell-signaling molecule, especially for brain cells. Changes in the amount of calcium entering and being distributed within cells can dramatically alter how they function. Calcium can even trigger apoptosis, a signal that causes cells to self-destruct and die.

Scientists are becoming aware that as we begin to age, our cells begin to lose some of their ability to control the amount of calcium in our cells — something we call calcium homeostasis. This can disrupt a number of important cell processes, eventually affecting cells all over our body, particularly brain cells.

In men, high calcium intake (more than 1,500 mg a day) from any source significantly increases the risk of developing highly invasive prostate cancer, although combining higher doses of vitamin D3 with calcium supplements will reduce many of the adverse effects.

In fact, combining calcium with vitamin D3 has been shown to significantly improve heart muscle function, even more than supplementing with vitamin D3 alone, without having to use high doses of calcium.

In general, restrict calcium supplementation to no more than 1,000 mg a day. Many women take doses as high as 1,500 to 2,000 mg a day. If the amount of calcium from their food and drink is added, especially in those who use soy milk, their total intake can be close to 5,000 mg a day — far too much.

But isn't drinking milk important to build strong bones? Hippos, giraffes, elephants, and rhinos don’t drink milk after weaning, and they have very strong bones. Many foods are great sources of calcium — spinach is one.

In general, after age 40 no more than 1,000 mg of supplemental calcium is required for good health. As for osteoporosis, it is not caused by calcium deficiency. Instead, it is caused by a vitamin D3 deficiency in developed countries.

SOURCE: Newsmax