Monday, 19 December 2011 09:29

Calcium supplementation: Protect your bones and heart

Written by  Hilde Nel
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Did you know that 34 million people in the US have low bone mass and 10 million people already have osteoporosis? One out of every 2 women and one in 4 men over 50 will have an osteoporosis-related fracture in his or her lifetime. Hip fractures are very serious among the elderly and cause many deaths every year.

When choosing a calcium supplement, take the following into consideration:


Taking the wrong calcium supplement can do more harm than good. Calcium carbonate taken on its own, for instance, is not only poorly absorbed but also reduces stomach acidity, which is crucial for proper digestion. Calcium carbonate is an inorganic mineral that can cause constipation. The older we get, the more difficult it becomes to absorb calcium carbonate.

Good forms of organic calcium include calcium citrate, chelated calcium, dicalcium malate and calcium glycinate.


The average South African diet is rich in animal protein and low in alkalising fruit and vegetables. If we regularly drink acidifying soft drinks, we’re heading for trouble. To counteract an acidifying diet, our body sends a message to remove calcium from our bones to try to preserve an alkaline cellular environment. The bones are weakened, resulting in fractures. Soft tissues begin to calcify. This is a sign of ageing. Ensure that you follow an alkalising diet by including more vegetables and fruit. You can also take green Superfoods to alkalise your system.

Co-factors that increase bone mineralization

Calcium is a team player. It needs certain co-factors to facilitate bone building. If a post-menopausal woman takes calcium on its own, she needs to be aware that low oestrogen levels may hamper the absorption of calcium into the bones. Recent research has highlighted vitamin K2 and vitamin D3 as important co-factors for bone mineralization.

Vitamin  K2

Studies have shown that vitamin K2 (specifically MK-7, which is natural) is crucial to bone building and promoting heart health. Vitamin K2 removes calcium deposits from soft tissues and therefore prevents calcification of our blood vessels and other tissues. In fact, vitamin K2 can even reverse calcification of soft tissues! This makes vitamin K2 one of the most promising vitamins of our time. It ensures that the calcium ends up in the bones.

Factors that may inhibit vitamin K2 production in the intestines include the following:

Medication such as antibiotics and non-steroidal anti-inflammatories destroy the friendly bacteria that live in the intestines. The result is impaired vitamin K2 production.

Medication such as anticoagulants inhibits the conversion of vitamin K1 into vitamin K2. In fact, in a recent study, mice were given anticoagulants to induce arterial calcification for research purposes.

A diet high in sugar and alcohol disrupts the balance of the intestinal flora, which in turn effects vitamin K2 production.

A weak immune system can cause fungal overgrowth in the intestines, impairing the production of vitamin K2.

Soft tissues that may be affected include the arteries and aorta resulting in heart disease, stroke and other circulatory conditions. Other soft tissues that could calcify include breast tissue, tendon sheaths (causing bone spurs), kidneys and the pancreas. Calcification of arteries to the brain affects the functioning of the brain, causing age-related memory decline and even Alzheimer’s disease.

Research indicates that people who have a genetic risk of developing Alzheimer’s also have low vitamin K2 levels. Low levels of vitamin K2 are associated with loss of bone mineral density (resulting in osteoporosis) and the calcification of the aorta. People with high levels of vitamin K2 have more flexible, elastic arterial walls.

Vitamin D3

New scientific evidence shows that we need much more vitamin D than was previously thought. Vitamin D3 is not only crucial to bone building, but also to cardiovascular protection, immunity, and cancer protection. Unfortunately, a large percentage of people are deficient in vitamin D.

Other co-factors

Other important co-factors include boron (a crucial trace mineral for bone building), zinc, silica, copper and manganese.

Don’t become another statistic. Modern calcium supplements based on cutting-edge research have given hope to many people with low bone density. It is, however, also important to address lifestyle factors. Exercise and diet play a crucial role in protecting our bones.

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Last modified on Friday, 05 October 2012 11:11
Hilde Nel

Hilde Nel

A socio-cultural Anthropologist by profession, Hilde gave up her career in Anthropology at UNISA and the University of Stellenbosch to follow her true passion, natural health.

After completing an Advanced Certificate in Natural Healing, her life-long dream came true when she opened Simply Natural in October 2000 at Canal Walk in Cape Town.  Simply Natural has gone on to become one of the most respected health shops in the country, a source of information and expertise.

Hilde’s aim is to empower people to reach optimal health the natural way. She believes in a holistic approach to solving health problems, and that true joy and happiness unfold when using ones ultimate passion to serve others.

Her special interests include preventative medicine, nutrition for the mind, and digestive disorders.

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