Calcium rich foods may just be the perfect answer to the raging calcium debate, simply because it’s entirely questionable whether calcium supplements are helpful or harmful. Calcium supplementation has been widely studied and obviously in areas where calcium intake is extremely low and undernourishment is an issue, calcium supplements make sense. For those of us living in first world countries, undernourishment is far less likely than over-nourishment (or at least excessive calorie intake) so the question of calcium supplements becomes more difficult.
The Danger of Calcium Supplements
Research is increasingly showing a link between calcium supplements and heart disease, which is more than a little distressing. A 2010 meta-analysis which combined the data from over 8,000 shows that people taking a calcium supplement of more than 500 mg daily are 30% more likely to have a heart attack than those not taking calcium supplements. A separate study published in the British Medical Journal in 2008 showed a slightly increase risk of death, heart attack, stroke, angina, other chest pain and transient ischemic attack in women taking calcium supplements vs. those not taking calcium supplements. In addition, there are risks of kidney stones with calcium supplementation and also risks of laying down calcium in soft tissues where there shouldn’t be any calcium deposits.
The Benefits of Calcium
A 2009 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that people with high dietary intake of minerals, especially calcium and magnesium have lower odds of developing type 2 diabetes, hypertension and obesity. Add to this the obvious necessity for calcium to maintain healthy bones and teeth and prevent osteoporosis and osteopenia. So what to do? I feel the answer lies in a diet high in calcium rich foods, rather than calcium supplementation.
Calcium Rich Foods
Calcium is most available to your body in an acidic environment – which means calcium from milk is a little more challenging simply because milk is alkaline (the opposite of acidic). Milk and other dairy is high in calcium though, so the larger amount may overcome the lower rate of absorption due to the basic nature of dairy. Other calcium rich foods include dark green leafy veggies (where do you think the cows get it from???), bone broth and sardines. Also think about okra, broccoli, green snap beans, almonds, dry herbs, sesame seeds and flax seeds as calcium rich additions to your diet. Eating those foods with something acidic – like vinegar – makes the calcium even more available to your body.
Eggshell Calcium in Vinegar Drink
I was first told about this drink by a friend who claims it gave him an instant energy boost, and of course looked into it right away. Apparently, it’s originally from Dr. Christopher – although I imagine many variations have existed. Here’s how to make it:
- 12 Farm-fresh eggshells with the inner membrane removed – dried and crushed
- 1 pint of raw apple cider vinegar.
Combine the eggshells and vinegar in a container with room for air at the top because the mixture will bubble a bit. Let sit for a couple of days until the eggshells are completely dissolved and take 1 tablespoon daily with water and honey to taste (or straight if you’re feeling especially robust). To this basic mixture you can add other goodies that are health enhancing like garlic or various spices or herbs to make an amazing health tonic.