More Bad Press for Calcium Supplements


A Recent Study Indicate Calcium Supplementation May Increase Dementia Twofold

This may sound like deja-vu all over again, as we posted recently on this topic, here, but it appears that the dangers of tampering with the body’s highly-regulated calcium system are even worse that previously understood.

More extensive material found here, here, and here.

The study, found here, was small and usually small studies can be dismissed on those grounds unless the results are quite strong, which is the case with this one. Specifically the study followed 700 elderly women for five years. At the outset, none had dementia. After five years, those women taking calcium supplements had twice the rate of dementia. This is quite a large effect for a study such as this. Hopefully, more will come of this, and fast. These seems like an emergency to us, and we are said to be in the midst of an Alzheimer’s epidemic. Is this the cause?

For those interested in a direct frontal assault on osteoporosis, information on how to reverse it (really reverse it—grow new bone) can be found in the previously mentioned article, which itself contains numerous useful links, and also in the book, Quantitative Medicine.

Calcium Regulation

Get ready for a little science. We are going to explain exactly what causes osteoporosis, why calcium tablets only slow it down, and why the proper exercise will reverse it.

Maintaining exact levels of circulating calcium is crucial

Calcium is the fifth most abundant element in the body and the primary element used in electrical sorts of functions. And used it is. Muscles contract and neurons fire using calcium. It is a completely critical resource. And like all completely critical resources is tightly regulated.

Calcium is tightly regulated.

The hypothalamus, a tiny brain located in the middle of the skull, is in charge of almost all bodily regulation, including calcium. It does this via several organs, notably the thyroid via calcitonin, a bone builder/calcium decreaser and the parathyroid with its bone disolving/calcium increasing hormone PTH. .

Where can calcium come from? Food we eat and our own bones. In fact, calcium is so critical that if we are lacking it, the hypothalamus will actually dissolve bones in order to provide some. (Sound scary? read on.)

And where does all this calcium go? The hypothalamus will have it put back into bones if necessary, and will otherwise excrete excess in the urine.

Virtually all of us get plenty of calcium from the food we eat. All food, animal or vegetable, contains calcium. Actual calcium deficiencies are extremely rare. Starches are quite weak in calcium, so someone subsisting primarily on these might have calcium deficiencies.

The body has a very clever way to deal with bones and calcium

osteoporosisAssuming the medical profession has not interfered, the body will sometimes remove calcium from bones and sometimes put it back. However, it doesn’t treat all bones equally. It tends to pull calcium from the weak bones. Why this? Because, the weak bones need repair. They are weak because there are micro fractures in the existing calcium structure. Micro-fractures are just what they sound like, tiny, mostly microscopic fractures, normally from ordinarily wear and tear. Once the crumbling old material is removed, the body will replace it with new fresh strong material if—and this is a huge IF and the key to osteoporosis—that bone needs strengthening. But what determines this? If the bone is getting used, especially if it is getting significantly stressed, the body will allocate new calcium.

Down at the cellular level, a microscopic construction crew is managing all this. One sort of cell, called an osteoclast is responsible for clearing out the calcium rubble, and another cell, a cell that directly senses stress on the bone, will gather in calcium and remodel the needy bone.

Pretty clever huh? Instead of just grabbing and returning bone from anywhere, it does it where it is needed, where bones need repairing.

So what causes osteoporosis?

In our Western civilization we are spared, if we so choose, practically all physical exertion. Because of this, the body slowly, very slowly in fact, reduces the amount of bone. This isn’t particularly a problem till the bone gets so weak it can no longer support even the daily routine. Then it starts to crush in on itself.

So what do calcium supplements really do?

First of all, they cause excess heart attacks and possibly excess dementia. However, by elevating circulating calcium, they cause the body to take less from bones. This slows the bone loss down, but, crucially, does nothing to increase bone strength. Things just sit. This is not a cure or a prevention. This is a prolongation.

It is easy to build bone

Two steps:

First, quit the calcium supplements. They are only getting in the way (along with doing some fairly serious collateral damage).

Second, stress those bones, especially the big ones.This means challenging, weight-bearing exercise, but it does not mean endless hours at a gym. There are two exercises that are ideal for bone building: squats and deadlifts. They should be done with as much weight as a person can manage while still maintaining perfect form. The trainers at most gyms will show you how, often for free.

Will these squats and deadlifts really work?

Not only do they work for almost everyone, they work fast. I (Davis) am the poster-boy for that. At age 55, Dr. Mike diagnosed me with borderline osteoporosis and prescribed the two exercises above. Within six months, I was not only out of danger, I was above average. Fast forward 15 years, and, for my age, I am in the top 3%. Same old exercise, three sets of 10, each one, once a week. Takes 10 minutes max. For this, I am never going to have osteoporosis. Dr. Mike sure headed that one off at the pass.

Special Bonus

These squats and deadlifts, especially if done vigorously, will significantly reduce the risk of heart disease, cancer, adult onset diabetes, and Alzheimer’s. No extra charge for this nice feature.

  2 comments for “More Bad Press for Calcium Supplements

  1. Pam butden
    November 16, 2016 at 7:49 am

    I have arthritis and can not squat. Well I can squat down but can not get up? Mine is in my legs n back. Course that’s where none loss is also. Any suggestions?

    • November 21, 2016 at 11:33 am

      Hi Pam,
      Your note does not mention the type of arthritis. The answer has qualifications depending on the type but the general rule remains the same: “The Body Wants To Heal.” The balance between damage – an ongoing process driven either by use and overuse or trauma or by autoimmune destruction – and healing is, to an important degree, under your control. There remains, even in end stage rheumatoid arthritis, some native stem cells and recruiting these by sequential very gaurded, graded and careful challenge of range of use will stimulate healing. The actual implementation depends on great care and precise measurement but the principle remains the same: carefully expect more range and allow plenty of time between challenges for healing, restoration and actual renewal. A great trainer is almost certainly necessary. In the big clinic I used to tell my trainers they were the most important healthcare provider patients will ever have. Dr. Mike

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