As many of you already know, the last several years have been a roller coaster of health concerns for me. I spent the last 8 years trying to find out what was wrong with me. Why it hurt to tears when my husband gave me a playful slap on the behind. I swear it is not aggressive or abusive. Just hear me out. Pain over my whole body. No ambition or energy. Brain fog when I used to be so quick with my whits. No organization. Tons to do but a grand lack of energy to do anything more than daydream about what I wished I was accomplishing. Some days I had some fight in me, and I did as much as I could, but most days, I just felt like there was something wrong with me, and no one could tell me what. Every medical test looks healthy. As a matter of fact, my body is the picture of health for someone my age. Every single test within normal limits. Every image the doctors gush over how perfect my organs look. Great. I am healthy as can be, so why do I hurt so bad? Why can’t I get anything done or stay focused long enough to finish a sentence? Why do I feel depressed when I have all the tools and knowledge to choose happiness? Why do I have symptoms of depression when I am completely content, and even feeling blessed beyond imagination in my life? Why can’t I eat? Why does food hurt my stomach so bad? Why does it hurt to drink water? Doctor after doctor sent me home with no answers. I left so many offices in tears, feeling like I either got no new information, or completely contradictory information from the last Dr. “You have too much stomach acid”. “You don’t have enough stomach acid”. “You have low thyroid”. “Your thyroid is within normal limits”. It is so frustrating to be told opposite things by every other doctor you see. I was at my whits end. I had shed many tears and prayed many prayers over this. I just wanted an answer. I didn’t care what it was. As long as I could get some truth.
Finally, I landed a great doctor! About a year ago I found her, and I have her on a pedestal so high that she should probably be wearing a safety harness. She does a lovely job of blending Natural and Western health care. A balanced doctor who doesn’t want to just write me a bunch of prescriptions and send me out the door. She is genuinely concerned for my well being and wants me to feel good, and I love her!
When everything came back healthy, she quickly sent me to an OBGYN (my biggest complaint was uterus pain), who was able to diagnose me with copper toxicity in under an hour. She told me that they don’t have an answer for copper toxicity in western medicine, and that she was going to call a naturopath friend of hers. I am in love with my new team of doctors. They are not too proud to admit that natural medicine has practical applications. Within three days they had me on a copper chelation regimen, and I started to feel better within about five days. When I saw my family practitioner for a follow up after the specialist, she told me to go to the naturopath for further care, because western medicine is just a little behind the times and doesn’t put a lot of emphasis on trace minerals in their studies. I strongly encourage you to see a specialist if you are going to try to “detox” from a heavy metal, as it can be quite dangerous if you aren’t careful.
This got my brain spinning. Trace minerals are the foundation and building blocks of life. How can they not be studied? I decided to do some research of my own. I ran a nutrition class by my doctor. She checked it out and told me it looked great and to go for it. So, I have decided to share what I am learning with you. Someone needs to. This is important information and I believe it could answer many of the unresolved and mysterious health problems that we are seeing these days. Auto-immune disorders and neurological disorders are on the rise at an alarming rate. I have been diagnosed with both celiac disease and fibromyalgia. Though I will likely never be able to tolerate gluten again, I fully believe that with copper toxicity resolution in my life, the fibromyalgia symptoms will disappear. As a matter of fact, they are already diminishing greatly.
Which brings me to the topic of the day. I need information that I can trust. I need information that I can confirm and validate. I am tired of not knowing who to believe. If I feel this way, some of you must too. I have decided that I will write for you, everything I can learn about minerals. I will start with the major minerals, and write one topic at a time, until I get through them all. Minerals and elements are surprisingly fascinating and enlightening to study. I look forward to the adventure. Today we start with Calcium.
Calcium is the most prevalent mineral in the human body. The majority of it is dedicated to keeping your teeth and bones healthy, while the rest is responsible for such things as maintaining a regular heartbeat, helping blood to clot, sending and receiving nerve signals, assisting the muscles in contracting and relaxing, releasing hormones and other chemicals into the body, and preventing Osteoporosis.
Calcium is an electrolyte. It is important to know what an electrolyte is, in order to understand how it works. Here is the definition of an electrolyte as reported by MedicineNet.
Electrolyte: A substance that dissociates into ions in solution and acquires the capacity to conduct electricity. Sodium, potassium, chloride, calcium, and phosphate are examples of electrolytes, informally known as lytes. …
Most of the calcium in the body is uncharged, but carries a charge when dissolved in body fluids. The body moves the calcium out of the bones and into the blood as needed. The body maintains a strict balance of calcium in the blood, and when people don’t consume enough calcium, the body leeches it from the bones to supply the blood. Osteoporosis is the end result of weakening the bones by taking too much calcium from them. The Merck Manual has an excellent article that goes into more depth about this. The article explains how the calcium is regulated by two hormones. They are the parathyroid hormone and calcitonin. A quick synopsis of the function of these hormones is that the parathyroid tells your body to do such things as release calcium to the blood from the bones, tells the kidneys to excrete less calcium in urine, signals the digestive tract to absorb more calcium and cause the kidneys to activate more vitamin D, enabling the digestive tract to absorb more calcium. Calcitonin slightly lowers the calcium level in the blood, by slowing breakdown of the bones. For a more detailed explanation of this you can refer to the article published by Merck Manual, titled “Overview of Calcium’s role in the Body”.
When you have too much calcium in your blood, it is called Hypercalcemia. It can be the cause of such things as weakened teeth and bones, heart and brain malfunction, and kidney stones. The symptoms can be non-existent to severe, and are usually caused by overactive parathyroid glands. I found that The Mayo Clinic had a great article that really summed up hypercalcemia well, and is still easy for the average person to understand. Some of the main points of that article, which I would like to highlight for you quickly, are the symptoms and causes of hypercalcemia.
Excessive thirst and frequent urination. This is because the kidneys are working harder to filter the calcium.
Digestive system troubles, such as stomach upset, nausea, vomiting and constipation. Loss of appetite, abdominal pain, and weightloss are also digestive symptoms caused by hypercalcemia. Because the bones are weakened from too much calcium being diverted to the blood, oftentimes those experiencing hypercalcemia will have weakened bones, bone pain, muscle weakness and fatique. Sometimes these symptoms lead to depression, anxiety, insomnia, and in rare cases, even coma.
The brain presents with such symptomology as confusion, lethargy, fatigue, constant headaches, depression, and other neurological disorders.
In rare and severe cases, the heart also shows symptoms of hypercalcemia. Heart palpitations, indications of cardiac arrhythmia, and fainting are all possible complications of hypercalcemia.
On the other end of the spectrum, we have calcium deficiency, also called Hypocalcemia. Hypocalcemia results in a long list of symptoms such as fainting, chest pains, heart failure, difficulty swallowing, larynx spasms leading to voice changes, fatigue, seizures, coarse hair, and brittle nails. Irritability, impaired intellectual capability, depression, anxiety, and personality changes are all symptoms to watch for. Psoriasis, dry skin and chronic itching, tooth decay, numbness and tingling in extremities or around the mouth, muscle cramps/weakness, and wheezing, can also be symptoms. Cataracts and Osteoporosis are also often associated with hypocalcemia.
Causes of hypocalcemia can be such things as a Vitamin D or Magnesium deficiency, high sodium intake, high phosphorus intake, chronic kidney disease, abnormal parathyroid function, bariatric surgery, and several prescription and over the counter drugs.
Foods high in calcium include:
- Dairy products. Milk, yogurt, and cheese
- Leafy greens. Spinach, Kale, Collard greens
- Legumes. Beans and Lentils, Edamame
- Seeds. Poppy, Chia, Sesame, and Celery
- Rhubarb -small amounts
- Seafood. Sardines, and Salmon
- Bone Broth
- Whey Protein
- Fortified food and drinks. Cereals, juices
The average person needs to consume about 1000-1200 mg of Calcium per day, from food and supplement sources. Supplements are generally not as readily accessible to the body as food sources are, but sometimes they are necessary. If you find yourself in need of a supplement to increase your calcium intake, do the research and spend the money to get a good one. It will be worth it in the long run.
Like all minerals, calcium works in conjunction with other minerals. Minerals are like a web. All of them require other elements to be at their highest level of efficiency. This is where it really gets tricky. It is easy to upset the natural balance of one mineral in an attempt to balance another. If you suspect mineral imbalances, I highly recommend seeing a naturopath or other alternative healthcare provider for assistance in balancing them. The tests are simple blood and urine panels that reveal how much calcium is in your blood, and how much is being excreted in your urine. This information will help you and your doctor to tailor the best balancing regime for your body. The tests that are usually run are the Total calcium blood test, Ionized calcium blood test, and urine test.
The other elements that we know are critical to make calcium its most effective, are Vitamin D, Vitamin K, Vitamin A and Magnesium. They allow it to be absorbed, assimilated, and properly dispersed in the body as needed. Without all of them in balance, it will be difficult to keep your calcium balanced. It is intricate design, and this is why you should always see a professional before you start messing with your minerals. If you suspect an imbalance of any type, please contact a professional for help getting them regulated. A family practitioner, a naturopath or other alternative care provider, or a nutritionist, are all professionals who can help you to get your calcium levels balanced. I am not a doctor. I only have the knowledge that I gained from the internet and personal experience. Please do not act on this as medical advice. It is only meant to be informative, never diagnostic. I will leave you with links to the articles that I used to find my facts. Each and every one of them has a plethora of great information. I encourage you to follow up with these articles if you have any further questions or wish to explore any aspect of calcium imbalance further.
Follow up links for further reading and reference:
- Merck Manual Overview of Calcium’s Role in the Body
- Mayo Clinic Hypercalemia
- MedicineNet medical Definition of Electrolyte
- Dr. Axe Top Ten Foods High in calcium & Their Benefits
- The Weston A. Price Foundation Mineral Primer
- University Health News Daily 21 Calcium Deficiency Symptoms that Will Surprise You
- National Osteoporosis Foundation A Guide to Calcium Rich Foods – excellent, easy to read chart of calcium rich foods.
- NCBI Overview of Calcium