Calcium is one of the most omnipresent mineral in the human body. An average-sized adult’s body, for instance, can contain approximately 1000 to 1200 grams of calcium, which is generally, invisibly integrated into bones and teeth by the widely available type of mineral, identified as calcium-hydroxyapatite (Ca10(PO4)6(OH)2) crystals. The rest circulates throughout the blood and soft tissues, as it plays fundamental roles in cell conduction, muscle function, hormone regulation and vitamin K-dependent pathways, as well as for proper cardiac and blood vessel function.
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What role does calcium play in heart health?
Several research studies indicate that just about 30 percent of the United States population consumes the Recommended Dietary Allowance of calcium, which calls for approximately 1000 to 1200 milligrams on a regular daily basis. Furthermore, humans can absorb only about 30 percent of calcium from foods, based on the particular source. The body will in turn, demineralize its own skeletal system to maintain the proper serum calcium levels in scenarios where dietary calcium is inadequate and/or absorption is decreased, and/or excretion is increased.
Epidemic of Osteopenia/Osteoporosis
Starting at around the age of 50 years old, postmenopausal women lose about 0.7 to 2 percent of their bone mass each year, while men over age 50 years lose 0.5 to 0.7 % annually. Between ages 45 and 75 years of age, women lose 30 percent bone mass, whereas men lose 15 percent.
According to the US Surgeon General’s Report, one in two Americans over the age of 50 are expected to have an increased risk of developing osteoporosis. Osteoporosis causes 8.9 million fractures annually, with an estimated cumulative cost of incident fractures predicted at US $474 billion over the next 20 years. Among mature women over the age of 45, osteoporosis accounts for more days spent in the hospital than many other conditions and diseaes, such as diabetes, myocardial infarction (MI), chronic obstructive airway disease and even breast cancer. Fragility fractures are the primary cause of hospitalization and/or death for US adults age 65 years and older; and 44 percent of nursing home admissions are caused by fractures.
A Mayo Clinic study noted that compared to 30 years ago, forearm fractures have increased more than 32 percent in men and 56 percent in women. The authors of the research study concluded that dietary changes, such as inadequate calcium and extra phosphate, were considerably associated with increased fractures. Public health approaches are critical to prevent symptomatic bone disease, however, widespread psychiatric prophylaxis is prohibitively costly and carries potentially serious adverse effects.
Cardiovascular Disease and Bone Disease
Strong epidemiological associations exist between decreased bone mineral density (BMD) and increased risk of the cardiovascular disease (CVD) and CVD death. For instance, individuals with osteoporosis have been reported to have a higher risk of developing coronary heart disease (CHD), as well as cardiovascular disease. This issue will be magnified if the remedies for osteoporosis (eg, calcium supplements) separately increase the risk of MI.
Issues with Dairy as Primary Source of Calcium
Dairy foods and drinks account for about 70 percent of dietary calcium intake among Americans. Dozens of epidemiological and randomized controlled trials in adults and children have utilized dairy products as the main source of calcium, and have credited dairy intake with preventive benefits on study end points such as bone mass, fractures and osteoporosis. A current meta-analysis of over 270,000 people revealed a strong trend for dairy intake protecting against hip fracture; the relative risk (RR) of hip fracture each day glass of milk was 0.91, 95 percent CI 0.81 to 1.01.
In most industrialized countries, milk is frequently the most cost-effective strategy for achieving recommended levels of calcium consumption in a population level. However, legitimate concerns exist regarding potential deleterious effects of chronic dairy intake on health. Dairy foods, on a time scale, are relative new-comers to the hominin diet. Domestication of cattle, sheep and goats first happened approximately 11,000 to 10,000 years ago. Furthermore, it seems that an estimated 65 percent of the global population expresses the pheno-type of lactase non-persistence.
Consumption of cow’s milk has been inconsistently associated with cataracts, ovarian and prostate cancers, and Parkinson’s disease, as it’s also been implicated in certain autoimmune diseases, such as type 1 diabetes and multiple sclerosis. Overall, the evidence for dairy-induced human diseases seems to be consistent for prostate cancer and for type 1 diabetes. A recent study of over 106,000 adults followed for 20 years showed that drinking three or more glasses of milk per day was associated with increased risks for bone fracture and higher mortality rates in comparison to ingesting more than 1 glass of milk every day. By comparison, for the women in that study, daily serving of cheese and/or other fermented milk products such as yogurt was associated with a 10 to 15 percent decrease in the rates of mortality and hip fractures (p<0.001). However, this was an observational study with inherent constraints such as residual confounding and reverse causation. In conclusion, solid results cannot be drawn in the data.
The sugar in milk, lactose, is broken down in the gastrointestinal tract into d-galactose and d-glucose. D-Galactose has been proven to increase inflammation and oxidation in adult humans, and in mature animals this sugar triggers accelerated ageing, neurodegeneration, and a shortened life span. Therefore, cow’s milk, even though rich in many nutrients,including sodium, has issues that leave it less than ideal as a dietary staple for most adults. On the contrary, fermented milk foods, such as cheese and yogurt, appear to be safer than milk, perhaps because the mostor all of d-galactose has been metabolized by bacteria, to make these staple food products.
Calcium, as with many other vitamins and minerals, is a fundamental compound needed to support the proper function of the human body, particularly when it comes to cardiovascular disease and heart health. Although these results have been displayed in several research studies, it’s essential to consult a healthcare professional to discuss your nutritional options. The scope of our information is limited to chiropractic and spinal injuries and conditions. To discuss the subject matter, please feel free to ask Dr. Jimenez or contact us at 915-850-0900 .
By Dr. Alex Jimenez
Additional Topics: Wellness
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