Diary of Unknown Symptoms

Mystery of the Internal Vibration

Entry for August 08, 2007


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It’s no wonder that people are confused. A week after printing an article about a man who has osteoporosis despite drinking milk at every meal, the Toronto Star has another article about a women who has been diagnosed with osteopenia and her plan is to drink more milk and eat foods high in calcium. I love the picture of her guzzling down a pitcher of milk. She obviously didn’t read the article from last week…

So what about all the calcium supplements that don’t contain vitamin D? They ask a University of McGill chemistry professor for his opinion.

“Without vitamin D” says Dr. Joe Schwarcz, “you can have all the calcium you want and it’s not going into your bones.”

And the best quote from the article?

“At the rate food companies are pumping up their products, from calcium-fortified orange juice and super-calcium milk to vitamin D-enhanced yogurt, we soon may not need supplements.”

Huh? I’ve seen the orange juice with the added calcium and I won’t go near it. According to this article, it’s a complete waste of time! And what about the other minerals like magnesium, copper, zinc, boron, manganese or even vitamin K?

Another favorite quote?

“forgo the sunscreen for 15 minutes on sunny summer days between 10 a.m. and noon when our skin absorbs vitamin D.”

So basically, after the cancer society just announced that everyone is not getting enough vitamin D, this article admits that sunblock can decrease the body’s natural absorption of vitamin D and thus increasing your risk of getting cancer.

Boning up on calcium

Aging gracefully – and upright – means getting lots of this mineral

Aug 08, 2007 04:30 AM
Cynthia David
Special to the Star

If you find me soaking up the sun at noon without sunscreen, counting out 25 almonds for a snack or walking down the street with weights on my ankles, don’t worry – I’m just boning up on my calcium.

This odd routine began a few months back, when my family doctor announced that my first bone density scan revealed osteopenia – thinning of the bones – and some deterioration in my hips. And here I thought I was sailing into my 50s and menopause in great shape.

Though she didn’t seem overly concerned about the results, the doctor handed me a list of food sources and ordered me to start consuming 1,500 milligrams of calcium a day (the minimum recommended for Canadians over 50 is 1,200 milligrams) and 800 international units of vitamin D.

On the way home I passed an elderly woman, bent over and shuffling along with the help of a walker. Perhaps it is a good time to take the doctor’s advice.

Dr. Miroslava Lhotsky, a Toronto physician and author of The Healthy Boomer, assured me that a diagnosis of osteopenia doesn’t mean I’m at risk of developing osteoporosis, the debilitating disease that makes bones dangerously weak and brittle.

In fact it’s normal to start losing bone density after age 35. But she urged me to consider it a wake-up call to improve my eating habits and get serious about regular exercise. “Your bone mass may be low, but your bones still have structure so you can put lots of calcium in them” said Lhotsky, who likens bones to a bank, strengthened with deposits of calcium and vitamin D, and weakened by withdrawals such as smoking, or drinking more than three glasses of alcohol or caffeinated coffee a day.

According to my chart, eating 1,500 milligrams of calcium a day is possible on paper, at least. A typical day might include two cups of 1% milk (660 milligrams), a whole wheat English muffin (100 milligrams), 3/4 cup of fruit yogurt (250 milligrams), a half-cup of canned pink salmon with bones (175 milligrams), a cup of cooked broccoli (90 milligrams), an ounce of almonds (57 milligrams), an orange (50 milligrams) and five dried figs (135 milligrams).

While you’re at it, Montreal dietitian and author Louise Lambert-Lagacé suggests adding a little soy every day to help in the process of “resorption” as we continually shed and build new bone. She recommends calcium-fortified soy milk, tofu prepared with a calcium-containing salt, 2 tablespoons of soy nuts or green edamame soybeans.

Vitamin D is another story. Unless you love cod liver oil (1,382 IU per tablespoon) or eat lots of salmon and canned sardines, getting 800 to 1,000 IU a day from food is difficult. Yet this year’s “miracle” vitamin is essential to help our bones and teeth absorb calcium.

“Without vitamin D” says Dr. Joe Schwarcz “you can have all the calcium you want and it’s not going into your bones.” The University of McGill chemistry professor and co-author of Foods that Harm, Foods that Heal, adds that vitamins and minerals are better absorbed from food than from pills.

At the rate food companies are pumping up their products, from calcium-fortified orange juice and super-calcium milk to vitamin D-enhanced yogurt, we soon may not need supplements. But if you can’t make the numbers with food alone, head to the drugstore, where a veritable wall of calcium awaits.

Calcium carbonate pills (some contain oyster shells) are the cheapest, though they may cause constipation and gas, notes Schwarcz. For best absorption, take them with meals or with a snack of at least 300 calories.

Calcium citrate pills are about three times more expensive, but can be taken any time of day and are readily absorbed without any annoying side effects. Calcium pills with magnesium also minimize constipation.

When buying supplements, look for the amount of  “elemental” calcium inside. And don’t buy the biggest pill you can find – Schwarcz says two 500-milligram doses of elemental calcium a day are much better absorbed from the digestive tract into the bloodstream than one 1,000-milligram pill.

For extra insurance, choose a calcium or multi-vitamin pill with added vitamin D or buy a 30-gram (1 ounce) vial of drops containing 1,000 IU per drop. Another option is to forgo the sunscreen for 15 minutes on sunny summer days between 10 a.m. and noon when our skin absorbs vitamin D.

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August 8, 2007 - Posted by | Health | , ,

1 Comment »

  1. what can you say me about Ca lactic ?

    Comment by Anonymous | August 9, 2007 | Reply


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