Calcium has gained so much popularity for its bone health benefits. It wears this glorious crown so well that even a random grade-schooler knows about it!
Well, if children know that they need calcium for their growth and development, then we adults have more reason to embrace this mineral, don’t we? ?
As we enter adulthood, our bones start to get weak and brittle. We also become more prone to various bone-related diseases — most especially women in menopause.
For that reason, we will untangle some twisted myths about calcium that you probably still believe! You must be on the right track about the minerals you should take for midlife health, especially the right sources to get them from!
Let’s jump start with calcium… because this mineral has literally got your back! ?
Time to shine a light on these 4 myths about calcium!
MYTH #1: Calcium supplements improve bone density.
Before I finally enlighten you with this myth, I just want to make sure you know what bone density is.
It is also known as “bone mineral density” and it refers to the amount of bone mineral present in your bone tissue. That means, if there are fewer minerals, your bones become porous or brittle. This leads to bone-related conditions, and that’s where “osteoporosis” got its name — a Greek word that literally means “porous bone”!
Going back… Calcium supplements have become extremely famous, especially among midlife women — in high hopes of preventing fractures, osteoporosis and other bone-related conditions.
Unfortunately, there is not enough scientific evidence that can support this claim. What’s more sad is, while researchers continue to dig deep on calcium supplements’ effectiveness, the claim keeps getting weaker and weaker.
In fact, the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that calcium supplements don’t reduce fracture rates in postmenopausal women. Supplemental calcium may actually increase the rate of hip fractures!
A little shocking, yeah?
MYTH #2: The more calcium you take, the better.
A Swedish study reported a 40% higher risk of death among women with long-term, high calcium intakes (1,400+ mg)! Those rates were then compared to women with moderate daily calcium intakes, ranging between 600-1,000 mg.
Additionally, Dutch researcher Thijs Klompmaker supports this claim in his 2000 article “Excessive Calcium Causes Osteoporosis”. Klompmaker said:
“Where most milk is consumed, osteoporosis incidence is also the highest. Compared to other countries, most milk is consumed in Sweden, Finland, Switzerland and The Netherlands — and osteoporosis incidence in these countries has skyrocketed… The less milk consumed, the lower the osteoporosis rate.”
His analysis that led to this conclusion may be based on the fact that excess calcium can deposit into soft tissues. This can result in osteoarthritis, muscle cramping, insomnia, constipation, kidney stones and increased rates of breast and prostate cancers!
Bottom line? Be mindful of your calcium intake and sources! GO NATURAL.
Find out more ways to treat osteoporosis in our article here! ?
MYTH #3: Calcium pills are the only form of calcium supplements.
Actually, you may be consuming more supplemental calcium than you realize!
Even if you’re not popping a calcium pill, that doesn’t mean you’re not consuming supplemental calcium. Many commonly consumed foods, especially in the United States, are fortified with supplemental forms of calcium, including the following:
- Orange juice
- Breakfast cereals
- Non-dairy milk
- Instant oatmeal
- Graham crackers
- Other staples of the Standard American Diet
Therefore, it is important to pay attention to the food products you buy if they are fortified with calcium!
Also, many multivitamins contain significant amounts of calcium, so always check the label. ?
MYTH #4: Milk and dairy products are the best sources of calcium.
Well, they ARE sources of calcium, but they are not necessarily the “best” — particularly for menopausal women. A prospective study revealed that the risk of hip fracture was 45% higher in those women who drank two or more glasses of milk per day than those who drank one glass or less!
Excessive intake of dairies makes the body work hard in balancing your blood pH level. This means that calcium is taken from the skeleton to neutralize your body again!
Furthermore, Dr. Mark Hyman could give you all the sensible reasons why you should think twice if you’re still consuming dairy! From lactose intolerance to the prevalence of osteoporosis cases, this video will surely make you realize why it’s high time to check your pantry for anything dairy! [Are You Still Consuming Dairy?]
So, what are the RIGHT sources for me to get enough calcium?
I’ll go straight with this: You’ll never go wrong with plant-based calcium sources! I mean, WHY NOT? There are over 40 of these natural choices you can choose from for your daily calcium needs! Check these out:
Plant-based sources: Basil, Marjoram, Sage, Spearmint, Rosemary, Cinnamon, Chives, Cloves, Black Pepper, Thyme, Peppermint, Collard Greens, Amaranth, Goji Berry, Tofu, Kelp, Rocket, Cacao, Tempeh, Lucuma, Rhubarb, Kumquats, Leeks, Endive, Raisins, Fennel, Artichoke, Oranges, Swede, Cabbage, Barley, Sauerkraut
Seeds: Poppy Seeds, Sesame, Chia, Hemp Seeds, Flaxseed, Mustard
Nuts: Brazil Nuts, Hazelnuts, Pistachios, Walnuts, Peanuts, Pecans
Plant-based powders: Maca Powder, Mesquite Powder, Sacha Inchi Powder, Carob Powder, Chili Powder, Acai Bowl, Spirulina, Tahini, Black Tahini, Miso.
Moreover, you can also get your calcium needs from these non-dairy sources! Watch this video from Dr. Eric Berg ? [Non-Dairy Sources of Calcium on Keto]
Practical Ways to Maximize Calcium’s Benefits for Midlife Health
1. OPTIMIZE. Pair up your calcium intake from natural sources with other essential vitamins and minerals:
Vitamin D. According to Dr. Hyman, vitamin D is the most essential nutrient in our diet in terms of bone health. It works synergistically with calcium to improve better absorption!
Vitamin K2. Registered dietitian and nutritionist Amanda Archibald says that vitamin K2 works like a kind of glue that helps your body build strong bones! It directs calcium to where it is needed most.
For the best vitamin D and K2 sources, check out our article specially made for that! ?
Collagen. 25-30% of our bones’ dry weight is made of collagen proteins! Studies suggest that the quality of collagen present in our bones hugely influences how strong our bones will be. This means we must support our collagen formation as well, to ensure that we are keeping our bones strong!
Magnesium. Deborah Wiancek, the author of The Natural Healing Companion, says: Most of us have an inadequate supply of magnesium. Calcium and magnesium work together to move fluids smoothly through cells and relax muscles — optimizing bone health!
Learn more about what this mighty mineral can bring for your midlife health in our article here! ?
Calcium-depleting foods. Sadly and with our little awareness, some aspects of the Western diet may actually deplete calcium and contribute to bone loss! SALT, being the number one culprit, is associated with urinary calcium loss. Experts agree that nearly 70% of Americans’ salt intake comes from processed foods! In addition, it would also be best to avoid sugary foods, excessive caffeine and soda! These foods also contribute to calcium loss.
Medications. Common medications have shown to diminish bone density, as they affect how calcium is absorbed and metabolized. Therefore, it is vital to take these things into consideration so that you are sufficiently getting your calcium needs without being interfered!
How about… yoga?
Contrary to popular belief, yoga is so much more than just about flexibility. It can strengthen our bones and muscles, improve balance, enhance posture, regulate hormones, promote better sleep and relieve hot flashes! IT’S ONE OF MY GREATEST MENOPAUSE HEROES!
Learn how to start and discover more about yoga’s benefits in our article here!?
Why You Need Calcium Even More in Menopause
The National Institutes of Health officially considers menopausal women as one of the groups at higher risk of getting calcium deficiency.
Menopause leads to bone loss because declining estrogen levels can cause calcium malabsorption. Unfortunately, even an increased supplemental calcium intake during menopause cannot completely offset this bone loss.
Sounds alarming… But trust me, there is a lot we can do ourselves. Based on my personal menopause experience, you need to watch the food you eat, boost up with vitamins and minerals from the right sources and keep an active lifestyle! With the stacks of symptoms that could possibly get into us, nothing beats the power of being wise with the choices you make! These practices have preserved my midlife health really well. ?
It feels good to be enlightened, doesn’t it? ?
Always remember to get your calcium sources from healthy, natural sources because, as you have seen… THERE ARE A LOT TO CHOOSE FROM! Never forget to OPTIMIZE, MINIMIZE and EXERCISE. Sometimes, all it takes is the right awareness about the lifestyle and diet you embrace in midlife. Live wisely! ?
How Does IF Work?
Our body goes through two different states in IF:
- Absorptive state (fed state) – the period when our body starts to digest food and absorb nutrients. This state starts the moment we chew food in our mouth, and it usually lasts for 3 to 5 hours.
- Post-absorptive state (fasting state) – the period after we feed our body. This usually occurs 8 to 12 hours after our last meal.
In the fed state, insulin slows down the body from burning fats. Insulin is a hormone that converts sugar to energy.
On the other hand, during the fasting state, the body will rely on stored sugar (glycogen). As a result, the sugar level goes down, and so does insulin. With no sugar to turn to energy, our body taps into fats for fuel. This is what you call ketosis. However, this only happens if we eat clean, without any sugar in our diet.
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Gita is the founder of My Menopause Journey. Since 2014, she has been supporting midlife women by sharing hard-earned learnings from her own experience. To advance her knowledge, Gita puts a lot of her time and effort into understanding the broad spectrum of women’s health. She immerses in extensive research about the physical, mental and emotional aspects of menopause. Gita believes in the life-changing power of healthy, holistic living — this is where she anchors her message to all women. Learn more about her marvelous mission in About us - My Menopause Journey.