Wellness Pathway #252 The Calcium Balance

In last week’s Wellness Pathway, I discussed the importance of controlling the energy balance of calories in and calories out in order to reach and to maintain our optimal weight. But optimal wellness requires us to pay attention to many other nutritional, fitness, and emotional balances. It’s not just the quantity of the food we eat that determines how we are doing; it is also the quality of the food we consume over time.

One of the balances that people often fail to understand, let alone to think about, is the calcium balance. Yet this, together with our exercise routine, determines much as to the likelihood of our developing osteoporosis, heart disease, and other chronic conditions.

The balance that I am referring to is the ratio of calcium in to calcium out on a daily basis. Calcium comes in through foods and supplements. Calcium goes out through urine, removed from the blood by our kidneys.

The current dietary recommendation for calcium is 1,000 to 1,500 mg per day. Many people mistakenly believe that milk and other dairy products are the best dietary sources of calcium, but ounce-for-ounce dairy products are neither the richest nor the easiest of sources to balance. That’s because milk protein, along with other animal proteins, are converted in the body to acid. And the acid triggers the release of phosphorus and calcium into the bloodstream in order to buffer the acid. The more milk you drink, the higher the acid load in your bloodstream, and the more calcium you lose.

Better to get your calcium from other sources, such as collard greens (360 mg/cup), bok choy (250), kale, turnip greens (200), mustard greens (190), and broccoli (140). These foods have the opposite effect of animal proteins: they are converted in the body to alkali thereby triggering the body to keep phosphorus and calcium in the bones, where they belong.

Avoid consuming more than the recommended daily allowance of calcium without medical supervision. Too much calcium can “lead to such side effects as constipation, dry mouth, a continuing headache, increased thirst, irritability, loss of appetite, depression, a metallic taste in the mouth, and fatigue” according to Dr. Andrew Weil. There is some evidence, still being gathered, that more than 500 mg per day may have negative health effects.

But this assumes, of course, that you are not leeching calcium out of your system by eating too much animal protein and not enough fruits and vegetables. I avoid this by consuming an abundant amount of fruits and vegetables on daily basis. Dark green leafy vegetables, and other vegetables high in calcium, are staples around our house. Plus we supplement at meal time with a small amount (300 mg per day, total) of calcium citrate.

Coaching Inquiries: Do you consume enough calcium per day? Do you consume too much or too little? Do you pay attention to the calcium balance being created by the foods you eat? Do you eat too much animal protein and too little fruits and vegetables? How could you get more into balance?

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May you be filled with goodness, peace, and joy.

Bob Tschannen-Moran

President, LifeTrek Coaching Internationalwww.LifeTrekCoaching.com
CEO & Co-Founder, Center for School Transformationwww.SchoolTransformation.com
2010-2011 President, International Association of Coachingwww.CertifiedCoach.org

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