Side Effects of Calcium Supplements

Are Calcium Supplements Safe?

Today is the 1st of August 2010.  We were warned on our news last night in New Zealand about the possible side effects of calcium supplements.  It is possible that taking calcium supplements can lead to heart disease, we were told. But we need calcium for a healthy heart, for healthy nerves, good sleep and a calm brain, and to prevent colon cancer. So now what?

Calcium build-ups can occur in the veins and arteries in people who have never touched a calcium supplement in their life. This doesn’t mean that they are eating too much calcium, but rather that they are not getting enough Vitamin C and Magnesium in the diet. We need Vitamin C and Magnesium, found in most fruit and vegetables, to assimilate calcium properly.

I hope this rather absurd revelation about calcium  isn’t a lead up to drug companies persuading our governments that vitamin and mineral supplements should be banned because ‘they are dangerous to the health of the public when mis-used’. Dolomite powder is a natural calcium supplement:  do the powers that be intend to remove this, too,  from our list of available supplements?

Perhaps this latest calcium debate is a back-lash from the chemical companies which make things like deodorant, shampoo, toothpaste and cosmetics with petrochemicals, aluminium, dioxin, and other dangerous chemicals in them:   we have had a run  of documentaries recently on these cosmetic products and the dangers their chemicals pose to health.  But they are all still for sale, and probably not much will change about the ingredients which are used in their making in the near future.

It is possible that calcium supplements taken too often, or in too large a dose, and without enough magnesium and vitamin C to accompany it,  do have a depository effect in the arteries and veins.  If you take magnesium and zinc, vitamin C,   and you eat plenty of fruit and vegetables, you should absorb some of the calcium in a tablet.  However, much of the calcium in a tablet will actually go straight through you,  unabsorbed, and should not pose a problem to your arteries at all.  No more than……….

Calcium in Dairy Products:  I wonder whether these research scientist took into account the quantity of  dairy products these people on their trials were consuming? it is  known that the calcium from dairy products can also build up into calcium deposits in the arteries.

Or did these research scientists give only calcium foods, without magnesium and vitamin C,  with no fresh  fruit and vegetables, to their research test-subjects? A little like giving pigs a steady diet of comfrey over a three month long trial, so that you can tell the world that comfrey  causes liver cancer? And then get comfrey banned in all the countries where pharmaceuticals are sold, with a commercially made preparation, which now you have to buy,  to take its place?

How dangerous, really, are calcium supplements to the health?  Not really dangerous, in my opinion.  My guess is that most people who get heart attacks have never touched a calcium supplement in their life.  They are more than likely to be on some other medication from their doctor,  and the side effects of these drugs are generally not divulged to the general public.  The doctor is instructed by the drug companies what drug should be given to people.  These remedies are not tried and tested by the doctor personally.  He accepts what the drug companies tell him about the medications.  He has no idea, really, except by watching his patients, what a drug is going to do. This drug-taking, drug-making culture of ours accepts newly invented drugs without much question as to their side-effects.

This  is just such a different scenario to traditional herbal medicine, or acupuncture, or ayurvedic medicine:  in these modalities, the remedies do not change by the week, and so the outcome of using the well-tried remedies is fairly well established.

The practice of orthodox medicine is such a contrast.  It lacks history.   The giving out of new medications, and sometimes many different  combinatons of medications are taken at a time,  goes on willy-nilly, unsupervised, undocumented and uncontested in the public arena.

So – even the well known Ayurvedic doctor  Vasant Lad mentions in his book’Ayurvedic Home Remedies’  that dairy products can cause a build-up of calcium in the arteries.  But do the research scientists make a comprehensive, intelligent  study of this fact and put it on the national news?

No, they do not, because the milk-producing companies do not want their sales to be affected.  They are powerful, wealthy  companies which can influence topics of research.  They can also influence our media into not publishing negative stuff about the effects of lots of milk drinking.  We had a very good article about two years ago on research into milk which told us quite a bit about the effects of milk-drinking, but nothing has followed it up, and, certainly, the type of milk which was thought to be more harmful was not taken off the market, nor were any warnings put on that milk as to its negative effects on health.

The manufacturers of vitamin and mineral supplements, however, are easier to target, because they are not multi-million dollar enterprises compared to the multi-national drug companies, or even the milk producing companies.  It does not take much to put a small competitor out of business, and announcing on national TV news that a product really is  potentially that harmful is a pretty effective  way to go about it.

Personally, I prefer to take calcium naturally. But I would hate to see herbal, vitamin, or mineral supplements made unavailable to the general public. I do not believe that a  calcium supplement such as dolomite powder could really pose a serious threat to people’s health.

You don’t need to worry at all about over-doing calcium if you take it via your food.  The best calcium and magnesium  supplement is  a home made calcium tonic – one which you make yourself out of egg shells and cider vinegar.  This is entirely safe, though not for people being treated for chronic candida.  See my post for Best Calcium Supplement.

Vegetarians, even those which do not use milk, are not generally deficient in calcium, because they eat a lot of fruit and vegetables which provide calcium. One good handful of sesame seeds provides you with about 1200mg of calcium and magnesium which won’t have a build up effect in the arteries. One handful of sesame seeds with 1200mg of calcium is about almost as  much calcium as you need for a day.   Sunflower seeds,  soy beans, and the brassica family which includes broccoli,  are other good sources  of calcium.

Ayurvedic Treatment for Hair Loss

Professional Ayurvedic Treatment for Hair Loss  is recommended if you have an ongoing problem with hair falling out.  However, there are several good ayurvedic treatments for hair loss which you can use as a preventative, and to help nourish your whole physical being, including your hair, bones, teeth and nails.

Hair loss, in Ayurvedic Medicine, is regarded as a Pitta condition.  This means that  more cooling foods should be eaten, and that heating foods should be restricted.

The Pitta idea is interesting, I think, because, in my experience, radiation from electromagnetic sources such as cell phone towers and the like, have caused hair loss whenever I have lived for a period of three months or so near electromagnetic disturbances. Electromagnetic energy  definitely has a heating influence on the body. This is something you need to examine if you have ongoing bad health, your hair is growing thin, and you cannot fathom what the cause is.

Ayurvedic Diet for Hair Loss:  Hair needs a good supply of calcium, zinc and magnesium for a start, so it is a good idea to eat more foods which supply these minerals if you want to maintain a good head of hair.

One of these such Aurvedic remedies which is high in calcium is Coconut. For  treating hair loss,  Coconut Oil, Coconut Milk, and the flesh of the coconut itself can all be used.   Coconut is a very rich source of calcium, protein and fats, all of which benefit your hair growth. 

Coconuts are  a valued part of the daily diet in the South Pacific Islands, where people have marvellous heads of hair.  Coconut milk is widely used in the Pacifica region as a protein and flavour enhancer for many dishes.  It is also used as a baby food and as an invalid food.  The oil of the coconut is used externally as a skin oil, and as a hair oil, to nourish the hair and the scalp.

Ayurvedic Medicine texts commonly recommend the use of coconut milk and flesh for helping restore hair growth: 

  • One source recommends the inner milk of the young coconut to be drunk each day,  half a cupful each day.  (if you have high cholesterol, you should check with your doctor, or health professional before using cocnut milk in the diet)
  • Make up a coconut milk at home by blending together 1/2  cup grated coconut; 6 soaked almonds; 1 tablespoon sesame seeds; 1 cup warm water.  This milk is good to drink. You can put it on your oatmeal porridge, which is also high in calcium, silica and other goodies which nourish the hair.  You can massage some of this milk into the scalp at night.  Leave the milk on the hair and wash out in the morning. This is a wonderful tonic for the hair:  it helps regrowth and puts a great natural shine to the hair.
  • You can rub coconut oil into the scalp and into the soles of the feet.  Leave on overnight.  You absorb nutrients from the coconut oil through the soles of your feet, and these will find their way, via your bloodstream,  to feed the roots of your hair.  Remember to wear some old cotton or woolen socks to bed when you treat the soles of the feet with coconut oil.
  • Castor Oil is used in Ayurvedic Medicine to treat a variety of conditions, one of which is hair loss.  Castor oil can be massaged into the scalp to help hair regrow.  It is a good remedy to promote hair growth in babies and young children. 
  • Castor oil can be rubbed onto the soles of the feet at night to improve the health of the hair.  Put on those old socks so that your sheets do not get marked.  Wash off the oil in the morning with soap.
  • Castor oil can also be taken internally to improve the condition of the hair. Taking 2 tablespoonsful in the morning on an empty stomach, twice weekly, will help your hair to regrow.  This treatment will also improve your digestion, as taking castor oil internally reduces the toxins in the liver, and helps to flush out the gall bladder and the bowels.

Dairy, or Soy Milk Tonic

  • Drink 1 cup of your favorite milk which has been blended with 1 tsp ghee, 1 tsp sesame seeds, and 4 almonds.  This is recommended for the health of the hair.  You take this mixture each morning, as soon as you get up, and before you eat anything else.

Aloe Vera Juice

  • Taking a cup of aloe vera juice two or three times a day is another Ayurvedic remedy for hair loss.  This is to be continued for 3 months.
  • Aloe Vera Juice can also be used externally, to massage into the hair and scalp.  Leave on for 30 minutes before rinsing out.

Eat Pumpkin Seeds and Alfalfa Sprouts for Zinc nourishment.  Eat a handful of sesame seeds each morning, unless you prefer to make up one of the above milk recipes with sesame.  A handful of sesame seeds contains about 1200 mg of calcium.  Eat plenty of the brassica family: these are cabbage, broccoli, brussels sprouts, kale – all these contain high amounts of calcium and magnesium.  Eat carrots daily to provide you with Vitamin A.

You can supplement these home ayurvedic remedies with professionally applied shirobasti, which is an effective remedy for hair loss. See your ayurvedic professional about this.

A qualified ayurvedic professional can also apply nasya, which involves the application of special medicated oils into the nostrils.

Importance of Copper

COPPER is important in the daily diet. The importance of Copper cannot be underestimated, as copper has many functions. Some of the functions of copper are discussed below, to give some idea about the effect of copper on the body and the brain.

Copper is essential for the absorption of iron in the body. Copper also  helps to form strong red blood cells which prevent you from becoming anaemic.
Healthy blood cells prevent fatigue.
Copper helps in the formation of bone and muscle tissue.
It helps build strong cartilage which aids the smooth functioning of the joints.

Copper helps to prevent osteoarthritis.
It helps to prevent osteoporosis, because it is instrumental in building good cartilage around the vertebrae along the spine.

Copper plays an important part in keeping the connective tissue healthy in the arteries, capilliaries and veins, hence it helps keep the heart healthy and also helps to prevent varicose veins.
Copper, along with Vitamin C,  is needed to combine collagen and elastin which form the connective tissue: these tissues are also used to form the brain, so keeping your copper levels maintained helps keep the brain healthy. It is important, therefore, for expectant mothers to ensure that they have plenty of carrots in the diet, or some other food which is plentiful in copper.

Copper helps to regulate brain impulses. Good brain impulses are important for your memory function, and  for the discernment and judgement faculties of the brain.
It helps to keep the hair healthy and assists in maintaining your natural hair color.
It helps keep skin healthy and unblemished, as it aids in the pigmentation of the skin.
It helps keep the nervous system healthy and strong.

During pregnancy it is usual for Copper levels to increase within the body so that the new born child will have a plentiful supply through the mother’s milk.

In some women, the body continues to behave as if it is still nurturing an unborn child, and this can lead to excess copper levels, which can cause post-natal depression. Hormones in food and toxins in the environment can cause this deception.  Plenty of non-acidic Vitamin C – say 1000 mg morning and night for a few days, then cutting back to one 1000 mg dose in the evening, should help the problem. Extra zinc and magnesium are needed also, to counteract post-natal depression.

Taking the contraceptive pill can cause the body to mimick a pregnancy:
Escess copper: The birth control pill can cause a build up of Copper in women in amounts which are far in  excess of normal.  Symptoms can be erratic behaviour which mimic mental conditions such as schizophrenia and depression.
Extra Vitamin C, Zinc and Magnesium are needed to counteract an excess of Copper in the body.

If you take the contraceptive pill, then you need to take supplements of  Vitamin C, and zinc and magnesium..
If you are pregnant, than Vitamin C rich fruits and vegetables, and those which contain Zinc and Magnesium should be included as part of the daily diet. Onions and garlic and Vitamin C foods help to balance out excesses of minerals and help to negate the effect of, and eliminate, toxins from the blood.

A good free-range diet is best for expectant mothers. Taking vitamin and mineral supplements can be helpful, but you should try to get your nourishment from eating good food.

Pre menstrual women can become deficient in copper. This can cause sleeping problems, with insomnia, or broken sleep
Deficiency of copper can result in fatigue: since copper is needed to assimilate iron, then anaemia can result if copper levels are low, and this contributes to mental and body fatigue. It is recommended that two milligrams of copper be taken each day to help prevent these problems during the menopausal  and post-menopausal times of life.
If you are taking extra zinc supplements, then you probably need to take extra copper daily as well, as
zinc tends to rob the body of some copper. One milligram of copper to 10 milligrams of zinc is recommended.

Smokers and alcohol users may need to improve their copper intake: copper helps to repair the damage done by smoking. Smoking causes the endothelial cells which line the inside of the blood vessels to become damaged. When these become damaged, which happens because of smoking or having  high blood cholesterol,  these damaged areas can build up cholesterol plaque and form blood clots.  Copper helps to heal this damage, along with Vitamins B6, B12, Vitamin C, Vitamin E and Folic acid.
If you are a beer drinker, then your copper intake should be adequate, as one pint of beer apparently  contains about 600 mcg.

As discussed above, regarding post-natal depression, too much copper in the body can be just as harmful to the health as insufficient copper.  Sometimes abnormally high levels of copper in the blood can result  by drinking water which has come from copper pipes, or by drinking bore water which is unusually high in copper. This  can happen if you live near a copper mine.
Too much copper can cause arthritis,  high blood pressure,  heart attack and stroke.

Excess copper in the body  gives poor mental and emotional health:

Insomnia and anxiety can be symptoms of insufficient copper, and also of
excess copper in the body.
The contraceptive pill interferes with copper levels, and other mineral absorption.
People with an inherited condition called Wilson’s disease absorb too much copper into the liver.
Too much copper can also make children hyper-active and limit their attention span.
Supplementing the diet with foods rich in Vitamin C,  Zinc and Magnesium helps to balance out copper excesses.

COPPER – RDA 2-3 milligramms daily, or 2000-3000 mcg

Foods with Copper:

Lobster, crayfish, shrimps and oysters are naturally high in copper.

Avocado, and milk,  are extremely rich in copper.
Sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, almonds, nuts, mushrooms, the pulses:

beans and peas, the outer bran part of grains, egg yolk and red meats are  all good sources  of copper. Carrots are very high in copper.

Cocoa is also a good source or copper.

One cup of whole milk contains 500 mcg of copper
One cup of non-fat milk contains less copper than whole milk, with  only 100 mcg
One egg contains 150 mcg
One tablespoonful of butter contains 70 mcg
25 grammes of cheese contains 200 mcg
One cup of apple juice contains 500 mcg of copper
One avocado contains 800 mcg
One pear contains 300 mcg
An apple or a banana or a peach will give you 200 mcg – 600 mcg if you eat one of each
One cup of pure orange juice gives about 200 mcg
Half a cup of cooked prunes gives 200 mcg
About two cups of watermelon or rockmelon will give you about 200 mcg
One slice of wholemeal bread contains about 50 mcg
Half a cup of cooked brown rice gives about 200 mcg
Half a cup of peanuts gives about 220 mcg
Half a cup of cooked yams contain 600 mcg
One large mushroom has 125 mcg
One potato, cooked and eaten with its skin gives 150 mcg
1 kumara, also with the skin on, gives 200 mcg
100 gms of cooked liver gives 3000 mcg of copper
One tablespoon of wheatgerm has 180 mcg
One tablespoon of Brewer’s Yeast has 300 mcg
One tablespoon of Molasses has 300 mcg

Calcium and Colon Cancer

Calcium Helps Prevent Cancer:

The relationship between Calcium and Colon Cancer has been proven.

People who have an abundant intake of calcium-rich foods in their diets tend to have less colon cancer than those whose intake is less than 800 milligrams per day.

The RDA, or recommended daily allowance of calcium is 800 mg daily, but this amount seems conservative in the light of studies which show that a higher intake of calcium than this does protect against many diseases. It is recommended that you try to have more than 1000 mg daily, half of which should come from your high fiber greens, to help prevent colon cancer. Fiber itself , like calcium, performs a great function in controlling cholesterol levels and helping to prevent colon cancer.

Expectant and breast-feeding mothers, and growing teenagers, need a minimum of 1300 mg daily.

You get 600 mg of calcium per every two cups of whole-milk that you drink – nearly the recommended daily allowance. However, for those who cannot take milk  because of milk allergy, there are many other excellent sources of calcium which rate very well in their content. Dolomite powder is the richest, most concentrated source of calcium, beating milk by far. One teaspoon of dolomite powder contains about 2500 milligrams of calcium. This alone would give you more than the RDA.

The home-made calcium tonic which is listed below is nearly as high as Dolomite for its calcium and magnesium content.

One cup of broccoli yields about 160 milligrams of calcium. If your meal were to include 3/4 cup of baked beans, then you would have another 80 milligrams of calcium. All the brassica family contain high amounts of calcium. These are: broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, and kale. Parsley is also extremely rich in calcium and other minerals and vitamins, including iron. These vegetables also contain amounts of Vitamin C, which is also needed in order to assimilate calcium efficiently. Eating fruit after a meal helps the absorption of many minerals and vitamins, including calcium and iron.

You can see, looking at the high amounts of calcium in some of these foods,  just how easy it is to obtain all your dietary requirements of calcium through eating the RIGHT foods. Eating any of these foods on a regular basis, with the added bit of Dolomite powder, or a teaspoon or two of the calcium tonic, or drinking a cup of two of milk, will keep your calcium levels on the high side.

If your diet is too rich in fats ( but we DO need fats) or proteins, or grains, or cocoa/chocolate, silverbeet/spinach, or soy bean products, then you need to increase your broccoli/brussels sprouts/cabbage intake with your meal to compensate for calcium lost through these foods. Cocoa, spinach,  silverbeet , and yams all contain high amounts of oxalic acid, which latches on to calcium in the body, robbing it of some of the available calcium. However, the effect of oxalic acid in  greens like spinach and silver beet etc can be negated by eating baked beans, or an egg, or oily fish such as sardines or mackerel, with these foods. Or you could follow the meal with a glass of milk to counteract the oxalic acid.

Remember to include vitamin D in the diet if you are relying on vegetable sources for your intake of calcium. Vitamin D is  necessary for the assimilation of calcium in the body.

You can get Vitamin D from the sun’s rays falling directly onto your skin. A daily dose is beneficial. You can also get good amounts of Vitamin D from oily fish, cod liver oil, butter, and eggs. Dolomite powder, which has high concentrations of both calcium and magnesium, is usually enriched with Vitamin D to help the absorption of calcium in the body.

Home made Calcium-rich tonic

This is really simple to make. It provides nearly as much calcium and magnesium as the equivalent amount of Dolomite powder. Crumble the dry egg shells of two free range eggs. Use a mortar and pestle if you have one. Put the macerated egg shells into a glass jar. Cover with apple cider vinegar and leave for about 24 hours. Keep in the fridge. Take a teaspoonful daily, or more often if you have a condition like osteoporosis, where more than a maintenance dose is required. The acid in the vinegar is neutralized by the calcium in the egg shells, so this combination should not upset those delicate stomachs which cannot normally take apple cider vinegar.

This tonic will keep for about a week in the fridge, after which time you should make a fresh mixture up. The egg shell powder is OK to take with the liquid. The cider vinegar begins the break down of the egg shell, softening it considerably, even after only 24 hours. The stomach acids, and your foods, will take care of the rest of the break-down it it hasn’t completely dissolved.

Finger Joints Affected by Cell Phone

I owned a cell phone for a year, as I mentioned in an earlier article.

The main reason I was forced to relinquish the cell phone was that my middle finger became incredibly sore at the middle joint, with swelling and redness, noticeable around the joint.

I had avoided using the cell phone for long telephone conversations, as this definately caused fluid retention in the ear, and an uncomfortable heat penetrated deep into the head when the phone was held to the ear for several minutes at a time. However, I was a text fiend, and used the phone for this purpose several times a day, thinking this would not be so harmful.

I guess the same thing which caused the fluid build-up in the ears eventually caused a fluid build-up in my fingers, noteably the one which supported the phone from behind, the middle finger, whilst the thumb tapped in the message from the front.

The thumb which did the texting was not affected, but, after nine months of use, the middle finger of the hand which held the phone was very sore. After a year, it was so painful I had to avoid using this finger when  playing the piano, and the fingers next door to it were starting to be affected the same way. It was very difficult to write with this hand at this point.

I felt sure it was the cell phone, and so  i cancelled my phone account and gave the device away.

The source of an on-going anxiety, the high pitched frequency which had accompanied me that previous year, just evaporated immediately, and my ears relaxed and stopped their aching.

However, it took three months for the finger joints to return to normal.

I helped the healing of the joints with magnesium and zinc supplements, and gentle massage of the joints with olive oil at night.

I have not had a recurrence of this joint problem again in the year since giving up the cell phone, and nor have I needed to continue with the supplements after the condition repaired itself.