CALCIUM-THE HEALTH & BEAUTY MINERAL
"As Per Ayurveda, Hair & Nails are formed with the Leftover Waste After Calcium Metabolism. The More Your Body is Well Equipped With this Little Known Beauty Mineral, & the Better Calcium is Being Utilized Optimally for Its Internal Role, the Better Your Hair, Nail & Skin Health Will Reflect Outwardly!"
Ayurveda Perspective on Calcium - The Holistic View
Bones are termed as 'Asthi' & calcium as 'Asthi dhatu' in Ayurveda philosophy. 'Asthi Dhatu' or calcium is described as the component of bone that gives it a solid structure. Large intestine & bone health have a close connection as per Ayurveda philosophy. It is believed that gaseous & constipated state of large intestines creates porous and air filled bones, as is the case in osteoporosis.
To produce healthy 'Asthi Dhatu' or calcium, Ayurveda recommends to strengthen & balance Earth & Air element within the body. The Earth element is filled in the body when we consume natural & mildly sweet foods in its complex form such as grains and nuts, whereas, the air element enters the body through pungent & bitter foods. However, the 'Asthi Dhatu' is not formed by consuming these foods alone. The digestive system must be strong enough to digest, absorb & assimilate the calcium before it synthesizes as bone. This concludes that after consuming foods possessing Earth & Air qualities, 'Jatharagni-The Digestive Fire must be able to metabolize foods well to extract the 'Asthi Dhatu' out of foods. If the digestive fire is weak, the undigested food may stagnate & get toxic forming 'Ama-The toxins produced due to the undigested food stagnated in the stomach'. Ama then becomes destructive for the tissues.
An experienced Ayurveda practitioner can look at your hair & nail quality to estimate the state of calcium reserves in the body, as hair & nails are considered to be waste products of calcium metabolism. When the asthi dhatu is deficient (lack of calcium), the hair health is impacted adversely. We experience episodes of hairloss on scalp in patches due to calcium loss. It is not just the hair, but nails also that indicates the state of calcium in the body. Weak, fragile, easily breakable nails may indicate calcium deficiency.
This understanding of calcium as per Ayurveda indicates that its not only protein, but calcium also that is responsible for giving you that lustrous mane! Further, to strengthen the 'Asthi Dhatu', exercise plays a very important role. It aids the formation of high quality bone tissue. Weight-bearing exercises specifically weight-bearing yoga practice strengthens the spinal bone, legs & arms while also creating a sense of deep relaxation in the exercised joints.
The Modern View on Calcium
Lavanya recently visited the doctor to get her health reports checked & the doctor suggested, "Your reports indicate calcium deficiency. Please begin calcium supplements to strengthen your bone density & to avoid bone illnesses later in life". With the world population losing its grip on calcium, the smarter scientific world created "Calcium Supplements", & voila, all seemed good on the face of it! The modern motto became, "You keep living as per your convenience & choices, & we shall keep creating pills that will keep filling-in the gaps & deficiencies". Isn't the modern approach like that? However, if popping pills would have been a solution to our problems, the entire world would have already healed years back! Ironically, it is the other way round. More the pill culture, more the cases of deficiencies & diseases are rising.
Research-Based Facts: Advanced research on bone-density loss is now indicating that calcium supplements do not ensure strong bones unless combined with holistic efforts to heal within. Excess calcium in the body, if not metabolized well, may cause more harm than good. Multiple factors such as genetics, diet, lifestyle, acidic body state, excess of animal protein, excess salt consumption, lack of physical activity, lack of sun exposure, impact calcium absorption & assimilation pattern. Unless the calcium depleting factors are not addressed holistically, only pills will make no major difference to your health.
Calcium is the most abundant mineral found in the human body that is majorly deposited as strengthening cement in the matrix of the bone structure. It also forms the teeth. It constitutes about two percent of overall body weight, & 99% of calcium is deposited in bones & teeth. Remaining 1% calcium has an equally important role to play assisting & coordinating many other functions inside the body. Calcium loss not only impacts bone & teeth, but affects all other areas collectively where it is required to function for smooth body processes.
Is it Just Bones & Teeth Looking for Calcium?
The answer is NO! Though, the major part of consumed calcium settles in the bones & teeth, the minor-sounding 1% has an even bigger impact. Apart from bones & teeth composition, calcium is required for the following internal functions:
- Calming & sedating the nervous system. (Probably that's the reason, in ancient Asian traditions there is a ritual of consuming milk before bedtime!).
- Alkalizing the body.
- Optimizing cell communication by assisting in sending and receiving of neurotransmitters.
- Aiding muscle contractions of all types including leg cramps & regulation of heart beat.
- Assisting in blood clotting & wound healing.
- Assisting parathyroid (PT) function.
- Assisting creation and secretion of hormones.
- Aiding proper bowel and gastrointestinal movement.
Symptoms of Calcium Deficiency:
- Brittle rough nails, dry skin, weak & poor quality hair and teeth.
- Numbness & tingling sensation.
- Pain in the bones
- Abnormal heart rhythms
- Lethargy & difficulty with mental function
Internal & External Factors that Cause Calcium Loss or Hinder Absorption:
- Lack of Exercise: Research suggests that people leading a sedentary lifestyle are the ones most prone to majority of health issues & bone-density loss is no exception! Movement keeps our joint healthy & the deposition of calcium in bones is facilitated by weight bearing exercises. No exercise or a sedentary lifestyle makes body acidic, thus leading to negative calcium state within the body irrespective on ample consumption of calcium either through foods or in supplementation form.
Looking Beyond Meeting Numbers!
Consuming calcium to meet daily required numbers as per FDA is just one part of ensuring healthy calcium state within the body. What happens next in the body actually decides the fate of our calcium status b& not the consumed numbers! Calcium effectiveness depends upon calcium metabolism including absorption, deposition & resorption. The calcium metabolic processes are dependant on the following factors to ensure our reserves are full & functioning well:
- Balanced hormones specifically the parathyroid hormone that is responsible for the conversion of Vitamin D into active state.
- Ample Vitamin D reserves to help calcium get absorbed
- Healing intestinal lining as the absorption of calcium happens at the cell membrane level, with the help of Vitamin D. When digestive functioning is poor & body lack Vitamin D, even the ample amount of calcium gets wasted as it is not absorbed.
- Healthy kidney functioning as kidneys are responsible for converting Vitamin D from supplements or sun into its active body-usable form.
- Healthy thyroid functioning as it regulates hormone calcitonin that is responsible for balancing calcium circulating in the system.
- Healthy liver functioning as Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin & it must be dissolved with fat molecules. For these fat molecules containing Vitamin D to be absorbed within the body, bile is required which is produced by the liver!
- Healthy calcium-binding protein & various enzymes that aid absorption of Calcium.
And by now you know how your calcium status is not just dependant upon meeting calcium numbers but by your internal organ health physiology. Thus, to maintain healthy bone-density, a holistic preventive approach must be adopted that ensure there is no calcium leakage at one end, & your body is using calcium through foods or supplements well to fill-in for the deficiencies.
Holistic Approach to Healing Calcium Loss & Deficiency
- Maximizing Plant-Based Diet: Research in the area of plant-based diet now suggests that people consuming plant food sources as their primary source of nutrition, are far less likely to suffer from calcium loss. Plant-based foods alkalize the body & keep the gastrointestinal functioning smooth, which is the must factor for calcium metabolism. Green leafy vegetables are one of the best sources to fill-up your calcium & mineral reserves. These can be well incorporated in diet in the form of soups, salads and stir-fries. Bone broth is an anciently known remedy for healing bone issues. It highly alkalizing too & thus may be the perfect solution for bone healing versus calcium supplementation. Sesame seeds are one of the richest sources of calcium also rated high in terms of its digestibility. Include it in your smoothies & salad toppings. Other plant-based sources of calcium include daikon, seaweeds, figs, tofu & soy milk.
- Minimizing Animal Foods & Dairy Products: The simple philosophy that applies here is that animal foods & dairy products are acidic & even if they supply good quality nutrients such as proteins & calcium, the body's ability to absorb nutrients from these sources is less. Additionally, animal & dairy foods are concentrated sources of nutrition that may be heavy on digestion causing digestive issues that may lead to hindrances in calcium absorption.
- Improve Upon Hormonal Health: Estrogen deficiency in women has been found co-relational with osteoporosis. The hormone estrogen helps deposit calcium in the bones. During the menopausal phase, estrogen levels get deficient causing the likelihood of 50+ aged women to suffer from one bone problem or the other ar any point in time after 50. The best approach to deal with estrogen deficiency is to work on healing the whole endocrine system. This can be done by consuming more plant-based foods consuming meals in time, regular yoga practice & with meditation practices.
- Learn to Handle Stress: The stress hormones secreted during times of chronic stress can be highly acidic for the body creating disturbance in body's pH states. By learning to handle stress, you can put a stop or minimize the secretion of these negative hormones that disturb body physiology.
- Movement: When it comes to one practice that helps retain our calcium levels for years is exercise. Any kind of physical exercise, specifically the weight-bearing ones are excellent for bone-density.
- Minimize on Alcohol: Alcohol converts to glucose in the blood & this can be high acidic load for the body. Acidic body state is responsible for weakening bones at the foundational level.
- Be Friends With Sun During Non-Peak Hours: Sunshine vitamin aka Vitamin D which is the precursor to calcium absorption in the body is produced in the skin with sun exposure. Just about 20 minutes of early morning (preferably) or late evening sun can drastically improve the Vitamin D levels within the body, thus also indirectly helping the calcium metabolism.
- Balance Salt Intake: Excess salt leaches out calcium through the channel of kidneys in the form of urine. Going easy on the consumption of animal foods, refined salt, caffeine, alcohol & tobacco helps retain calcium naturally in the body to quite an extent.