I've Got a Bone to Pick with You
Calcium is one of the most important substances in the body. It is essential for the formation of bone and teeth, for muscle contraction, blood clotting, and heart rhythm. About 99% of our body’s calcium is stored in our bones, but calcium is also found in our cells and blood. The level of calcium in the blood is extremely important, so the body will move calcium out of the bones and into the blood to maintain proper levels. If too much calcium is removed from the bones, a process called Osteoporosis can result.
Osteoporosis is a condition where is density of bones is decreased and the bones become weak. So, if you want to avoid osteoporosis, or if you are already showing signs of decreasing bone density, you just need to take in more calcium, right? Like many things in the body, the answer to that is yes and no.
If the answer to low calcium, and by extension, low calcium conditions like osteoporosis, was as simple as taking an over-the-counter calcium tablet, no one would ever be low on calcium and osteoporosis wouldn’t exist. So, because it does exist, the solution must be more complicated, but would it surprise you to learn that one of the most common causes of low calcium is a digestive problem?
It’s one of three digestive problems and it relates to how well you can digest the three macronutrients:
A body that struggles to digest any of those three can become low on calcium and if goes untreated, will develop bone health issues.
Bone consists of a protein framework and calcium. The body creates bone from protein and then calcium attaches to it. Much like the walls in your house, the 2x4 studs are the protein and the drywall is calcium. If you struggle to digest protein and are deficient, you won’t have the framework for calcium to attach to, and it will be flushed out.
Many people struggle with carbohydrates. Usually this is either because they can’t properly digest them, or because they over consume simple carbs, which are quickly converted to sugar. There is a relationship in the body between calcium and phosphorus. The body must maintain the levels of each one. Phosphorus is used in the digestion of sugar, so when carbs are eaten, phosphorus is used to digest it. When the phosphorus is used up, the balance with calcium is thrown off and the body needs to dump calcium to balance the two back out. Soon though, the phosphorus that was used gets replaced and now the balance shifts again, but this time calcium is needed to bring the balance back and since the available calcium was dumped, the only place the body has more is in the bone. If calcium is pulled out of the bone too often, the bones become weak and brittle.
Fat digestion is also a common struggle for many people and poor fat digestion has its own role in low calcium levels and weak bones. Undigested fat is circulated in the blood and is very sticky. The calcium that is in the blood is stuck to the fat and gets carried out of the body, having never been absorbed.
There is a different mechanism to each of the three calcium and bone health issues caused by poor digestion, so an individualized approach becomes important for treatment. Understanding the difference between the three causes can mean the difference between healthy bones and osteoporosis. Contact us today for a complimentary consultation to discuss your digestion or calcium concerns.