Calcium - It's all about the absorption

Calcium - It's all about the absorption

Bev Dunne

We all know calcium is important for healthy bones, however whilst calcium is important for our bone health, problems may sometimes arise because calcium can sometimes be a difficult mineral to absorb. Without proper absorption of calcium, there is not only the concern that calcium is not absorbed into our bones, it may instead find its way into other parts of our body such as our arteries. Build up of calcium deposits in our arteries increases risk of coronary artery disease. This means we may be more susceptible to strokes and heart attacks. This obviously is a major concern.

It is evident therefore the type of calcium we consume is important. In the past calcium carbonate, citrate and gluconate have been the more popular sources of calcium supplementation. These types of calcium are usually derived from limestone rock or synthetic calcium salts. Over the past few years however plant-based calcium supplements have become more popular as many believe they are more absorbable and more effective in bone building.

 It is also now acknowledged deficiency in other nutrients such as Magnesium and Vitamins K2 and D3 may also be detrimental to our bone health.

Magnesium is believed to be helpful in building strong bone matrix, whilst Vitamin K2 assists in pushing the calcium into the bone and assists in cementing the calcium we absorb into the bone matrix. Just as importantly Vit K2 is also believed to be most effective in preventing build up of calcium in our blood vessels. By enabling better absorption of calcium in our intestines, Vit D3 is beneficial in maintaining bone density and bone formation.

Unfortunately, as we age and at a time when it is extremely important to be maintaining our bone health, there are certain factors which may well be working against us. It is believed our absorption of magnesium declines, our skin produces less Vitamin D from sunlight, our small intestine doesn’t absorb calcium as effectively and our body’s capacity to stimulate Vit K2 activated proteins lessens.

A recent formula released onto the market has piqued my interest. As well as containing Vit K2 and D3 it also contains a natural seaweed derived multimineral which contains bioactive calcium, magnesium and 72 other trace minerals. It is produced from the red algae Lithothamnion species harvested in the waters off the north-west coast of Iceland. It has been found that this red algae during its growth phase absorbs essential minerals from the sea which gives it its unique multimineral content. The algae over time breaks down naturally and settles on the seabed and the calcified skeletal remains are then harvested.  The secret to its high calcium and mineral bio-availability is its unique composition and porous, honeycomb structure and is believed to be far more absorbable than some other calcium sources such as dolomite and limestone.

I have written previously about the importance of Vitamin K2 and the evidence supplementation of Vit K2 may assist with bone density. As I wrote previously, to successfully bind calcium to our bones it is necessary for our body to generate a protein called osteocalcin. To be effective this osteocalcin requires Vit K2.

A 3 year placebo controlled Dutch study in 2013 of 244 healthy post-menopausal women found the women taking Vit K2 Menaquinone-7 had less inactive osteocalcin in their blood which indicated they had higher levels of Vit K2. In turn and not surprisingly, testing indicated they had higher bone density and bone strength (1).

There was collective evidence of seven Japanese studies which found supplementation of Vit K2 revealed a 60% reduction in fractures of the spine and 80% reduction in hip and other non-vertebral fractures (2). Several Japanese trials found Vitamin K2 completely reversed bone loss and may increase bone mass in people with osteoporosis (3).

For more information call down to see Bev and the team at Go Vita your health shop at 5 North St in
Batemans Bay, or call us on 0244729737. Don’t forget to tune into Bev every Wednesday on 2EC at 12.30pm for Go Get Healthy.

  • Osteoporosis International September 2013:24 (0:2499-2507)
  • Archives of Internal Medicine 2006; 166;1256-1261
  • European Journal of Nutrition December 2004;43(6);325-335