This post will be a bit different than previous posts as I'm feeling a bit more sciencey than usual. Let's jump in!
If you are like most women, you probably think about your bones once in awhile and hope that they are strong, rather than diminishing in their density so that you don’t become another woman who has osteoporosis. Maybe you have tried drinking more milk or eating more yogurt. Perhaps you have even tried calcium supplements with the thought that this will surely help make your bones become stronger. What is interesting is that the United States, which has a very high dairy consumption, is one of the highest countries with osteoporosis.
What I want to highlight today is that there are other factors besides ingesting more calcium, or calcium-rich foods, that establish healthy bones.
I believe that in most cases, we do not need more calcium to help build our bone health. Instead we need the ability to use the calcium already present in our diet, and to stop dietary practices that excrete our calcium (and other minerals).
Today is Part 1 in which I will talk about building bone. In the next segment I will speak about habits and practices that contribute to leeching calcium from our bones.
Below are 3 foundational areas that play a role in calcium absorption.
Building Bones and Increasing Calcium Absorption:
1. Digestion – If your digestion is not working optimally, you are not going to be able to absorb your calcium. How can you support your digestion? One of the first steps is to assure that you have adequate Hydrochloric Acid (HCl) production. When you have adequate HCl, this makes your stomach environment acidic enough so that calcium can be broken down into an available form and later fully absorbed.
Common signs of insufficient HCl include: bloating, belching, or burning immediately after meals; a feeling that one is full after eating only a small amount of food; a feeling that food just eaten is " sitting " or " staying " in the stomach and not being digested; papery thin fingernails/fingernails that chip or break easily; bad breath; undigested food in the stool.
What can you do?...One of the easiest ways to increase HCl is by taking an HCl supplement with every meal. These are usually low cost and easy to consume. Here is the one I take.
2. Fatty Acids – Each of our cells is made up of a phosolipid membrane. This means that fats play a central role in creating healthy cell membranes. Consuming a variety of quality fats is needed to create a viable cell membrane…saturated fats, mono-saturated fats, and polyunsaturated fats.
What does ensuring healthy cell membranes have to do with calcium absorption? A healthy cell membrane is key to letting minerals into cells and therefore into body tissue. Eating quality fats (butter, coconut oil, olive oil, avacados, fish oils, flax oil, etc) is key to creating great membranes so that the now available calcium (from superb digestive function) can actually get into the cells and tissues.
3. Optimal Thyroid Function- There is a thyroid hormone called calcitonin that helps with an activity that our bones do. You see, bones are living tissue and they are constantly being broken down and rebuilt. We want to make sure the influences that break down bones (we’ll get to those nex time) are as superior as the influences that help to build bones. Calcitonin is sent out in response to high levels of calcium in the blood so that the body will down-regulate the process of breaking down bones which is occurring to raise calcium levels in the blood. If your thyroid is not working optimally, then bone break-down (osteo-clastic activity) will continue to occur at an unneeded rate.
Signs of low thyroid include, but are not limited to, low body-temperature, cold hands and feet, loss of lateral 1/3 of the eyebrow, difficulty sweating, fatigue, mentally sluggish, depression, and constipation. Talk to your doctor or health care practitioner to investigate further if you suspect you need thyroid support as this is a key gland in helping your bone health.
This brings me to Part 2…what is leeching calcium and other minerals from our bodies? Why would calcium be taken out of the bones in put into the blood? We will cover this and more next time.
Until then, tune in to your digestion, fat consumption, and thyroid.. Begin taking a look at your digestion and fatty acids while investigating thyroid function if you sense any of these areas need support.
Thoughts? Questions? Comments? I'd love to hear them! Please post below...