The Crucial Role of Calcium
We think of bones as solid and unchanging. The truth is that they are constantly changing and adapting to the many needs our bodies have. The biggest mineral need in body is calcium. Our bones are like a calcium “bank” storing and releasing calcium as needed. Why is calcium so important? The body needs calcium for almost every function! The most important function of calcium is to provide the electrical energy for the nervous system and muscular system. Calcium is essential for blood clotting, insulin production, not to mention maintaining a strong skeletal system. Calcium is a co-factor in over 500 enzyme reactions. Without these enzymes, life would cease to exist. Without calcium our heart would not even take another beat.
Because calcium is so essential, the body does it’s best to closely maintain optimum levels at all times. The way it does this is by depositing calcium in the bones when calcium is available; then removing calcium from the bones when it is needed, but not available. When calcium levels drop, the parathyroid glands react by secreting parathyroid hormone or PTH. PTH causes less calcium to be lost from the kidneys and intestines. It also causes calcium to be released from the bones. When calcium is plentiful, the thyroid gland secretes calcitonin. Calcitonin causes the calcium to be added to bones while the kidneys excrete more calcium.
When we become too acidic (by consuming alcohol, sodas, certain medications, infections and even just plain old stress) our body wisely takes calcium (an alkaline mineral) out of our bones to restore the Ph balance. This is what it was designed to do. Unfortunately, when this happens regularly it can be a real problem for the bones and teeth leading to osteoporosis, cavities and many other problems.
So just add more calcium right? Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. Calcium is a “game of cofactors”. This means that we need other things to be present and to be in balance, for calcium to be able to be used. We need to stay hydrated so that calcium can be transported where needed. We need proper hormone function, good digestion, good fatty acids, many vitamins (especially vitamin D, C and B12), and other minerals (especially magnesium potassium and certain trace minerals) all to be in balance; all at the same time, for calcium to be used. If calcium is not used properly, it can end up in unwanted places, causing calcifications in soft tissues and bone spurs. We need to look at the big picture; not just isolated nutrients like calcium, knowing that the body works together as a whole, so we can learn how to support balance for proper function.