Friday, April 23, 2010


Selenium’s job is to reduce peroxide free radicals, which are believed to cause aging and are implicated in various forms of cancer. It works synergistically with vitamin E as an antioxidant. It plays a vital role in thyroid function. Plants are the most common dietary source of this mineral. The amount of it that is in plant products depends on how much mineral was in the soil where this plant was grown. If the plant was grown in selenium-deficient soil, the food is going to be deficient also.

In the United States, the selenium content in plants can vary almost 200-fold from region to region. Meat and poultry tend to be more reliable sources of selenium, because animals are usually fed with supplements of this mineral.

High doses of iron, vitamin C and heavy metals can decrease the absorption of selenium.

The SELECT study was designed to see the effects of selenium and other antioxidants in the prevention of prostate cancer. After 5 years, the intervention group showed no difference from the controlled group, suggesting that there was no benefit from taking selenium.

However, there is a correlation between selenium levels in your blood and something called C-reactive protein, which is a measure of inflammation. The higher your C-reactive protein, the greater your inflammatory response. In some studies, the higher the selenium level in the blood, the lower your C-reactive protein, suggesting that selenium may reduce inflammation. This inflammatory response is thought to be part of the process of heart disease and cancer.

Beyond heart disease, there is an ongoing interest in selenium supplementation. Originally, the interest surfaced when about 180 men with HIV had a reduction in hospitalization with 200 micrograms of selenium. Supplementation may offer some protection from basal cell carcinomas, but an increased risk of squamous cell skin cancer. The take-home point is that we should concentrate on selenium-rich foods, not supplements.

Selenium deficiencies are rare in the United States, where intake is typically 100 to 250 micrograms per day. Deficiencies are on the rise, however. They are prevalent after a gastric-bypass surgery. As the number of Americans going for a gastric bypass surgery increases, the heart diseases associated with selenium deficiencies are on the rise.

Toxicity can exist, but it is usually at doses greater than 900 micrograms per day. Increased levels of selenium may increase the likelihood of glucose intolerance, which is one of the precursors of diabetes.

Daily Recommended Amounts

Infant, 0–6 months15 micrograms
Infant, 7–12 months20 micrograms
Child, 1–3 years20 micrograms
Child, 4–8 years30 micrograms
Male, 9–13 years40 micrograms
Male, 14–70 years55 micrograms
Female, 9–13 years40 micrograms
Female, 14–70 years55 milligrams

Good Food Sources

1 whole egg, boiled13.55 micrograms
4 oz chicken breast, roasted28 micrograms
1/4 cup sunflower seeds, raw21.42 micrograms
1 sardine48.48 micrograms
1 cup oats, cooked18.95 micrograms
1 cup pasta, whole wheat, cooked36.3 micrograms

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Zinc Facts

Let’s talk about zinc facts. Over half of the body’s zinc supply is found in muscle tissue. It is also found in bone, eyes, prostate gland, skin and kidneys. It is an essential mineral for over 100 enzymes. It is necessary for strong cell membranes and wound healing. Even though there is a normal requirement for zinc, if you have surgery, your requirements are going to go up. It is also needed in tissue growth and repair. It is needed for protein synthesis, DNA and RNA maintenance, blood clotting and taste perception. One of the first signs of zinc deficiency is that food doesn’t taste like anything. It is needed in bone mineralization, healthy thyroid function, normal cognition, fetal development and pubertal growth. This is one of these minerals that has a wide variety of functions. Deficiencies can be a real problem.

Zinc Facts: Benefits

There are conflicting results regarding the effectiveness of zinc lozenges used for colds. A recent review showed no significant benefit from the use of lozenges. Now, there may be a mild protective effect against age related macular degeneration. Researchers showed that 80 milligrams of zinc, which is a significant dose, plus antioxidants and copper, slowed the progression of AMD. In this case, more than what is needed might be beneficial if you’re in a high risk category.

Supplemental zinc may also prove beneficial to the elderly, as zinc deficiency is more common in this population. If you have someone in your family who is complaining that food doesn’t taste great, you may want to check with his doctor.

Zinc Facts: Bioavailability

The body absorbs anywhere between 15% and 40% of dietary zinc. Excess intake of iron or copper can interfere with zinc absorption. Two studies have shown that a high-calcium diet (with supplements) decreases the absorption in post-menopausal women. Medications can also have an impact on zinc status. Many of the high blood pressure medications can interfere with your body’s abilities to absorb an utilize zinc. Any time you decide to take a supplement, your healthcare provider must know.

Zinc from meat sources, just as with iron, is about 4 times more bioavailable than zinc from plants. Vegetarians may need up to 50% more zinc, given the issues with bioavailability. Zinc and iron often share food sources. If you’re deficient in iron, you may also be deficient in zinc.

Zinc Facts: Deficiencies and Excess

Dietary deficiency of zinc in the United States is rare. However, the elderly, lower income children and alcoholics are more at risk. The symptoms of a deficiency are not so unique: anemia, delayed growth in children, slow wound healing, glucose intolerance, poor appetite and taste. Skin problems can develop around the eyes, nose and mouth. You can have a dermatitis around your eyes, the opening of your nose and mouth.

The upper limit for zinc in adults is 40 milligrams per day. In some of the research studies they are using a larger dose than this, because they are trying to correct the deficiency. An intake of 80 milligrams per day can result in a lower level of HDL cholesterol, reduction of white blood cells and an interference with the mineral copper. It can also result in defective cholesterol metabolism. As with all mineral excess, it can cause vomiting and diarrhea.

Daily Recommended Values

Infant, 0–6 months2 milligrams
Infant, 7–12 months3 milligrams
Child, 1–3 years3 milligrams
Child, 4–8 years5 milligrams
Male, 9–13 years8 milligrams
Male, 14–18 years11 milligrams
Male, 19–70 years11 milligrams
Female, 9–13 years8 milligrams
Female, 14–18 years9 milligrams
Male, 19–70 years8 milligrams

Foods High in Zinc

1 cup baked bean, canned5.79 milligrams
8 oz yogurt, plain, low-fat2.02 milligrams
1 cup spinach, boiled1.37 milligrams
1 oz peanuts0.94 milligrams
1/4 cup sunflower seeds1.69 milligrams
3 oz beef chuck roast, cooked7 milligrams

Monday, April 19, 2010

Iron Rich Foods

Today we have a lot of iron rich foods. In fact, it is hard to find a breakfast cereal that is not fortified with iron. However, here I want to talk about other sources of iron, maybe not so conventional. First, let’s talk about your needs for iron. That varies depending on age and gender. Infants, for example, actually need more iron than an adult male! Did you know that? Breast milk is actually a terrific source of iron, while cow’s milk has no iron. This is why it is recommended to breast-feed newborns and infants up until the first year o life. We older folks, however, need other sources of this wonderful mineral. This table shows how much iron we need, according to age and gender:

Infant, 0–6 months0.27 milligrams
Infant, 7–12 months11 milligrams
Child, 1–3 years7 milligrams
Child, 4–8 years10 milligrams
Male, 9–13 years8 milligrams
Male, 14–18 years11 milligrams
Male, 19–50 years8 milligrams
Male, 51–70 years8 milligrams
Female, 9–13 years8 milligrams
Female, 14–18 years15 milligrams
Female, 19–30 years18 milligrams
Female, 31–50 years18 milligrams
Female, 51–70 years8 milligrams
Pregnancy, younger than 18 years27 milligrams
Pregnancy27 milligrams
Lactation10 milligrams

Iron Rich Foods

Now, let’s talk about food. These are some good sources of iron:

1 oz pumpkin seeds, roasted4.2 milligrams
1/4 block tofu1.3 milligrams
1/4 cup sunflower seeds1.22 milligrams
1 cup spinach, boiled6.43 milligrams
3 oz tuna, canned in water1.3 milligrams
1 packet instant oatmeal, plain10.55 milligrams
1 cup sweet potatoes, canned2 milligrams
1 cup raisins2.73 milligrams
1 square chocolate, unsweetened4.93 milligrams
4 oz lean beef, broiled4.05 milligrams

Friday, April 16, 2010

Facts About Iron

Let’s see the facts about iron. Iron is a component of hemoglobin, myoglobin and many enzymes within the body. Hemoglobin is the protein on red blood cells that is responsible for oxygen transport. Its partner myoglobin is a protein found in muscle tissue. Iron has an integral role in brain development and it is absolutely critical in the first two years of life. It is vital in the production of the protective membrane in the central nervous system. It is also involved in the production of neurotransmitters, which are chemicals that carry signals between nerve cells.

Breast milk has very biologically available iron, but cow’s milk is devoid of iron. This is one of the reasons why it is recommended to breast-feed newborns up for the first year of life.

Iron is a structural part of many enzymes that have a multitude of functions. It also helps in the detoxification of your liver. Detox diets are popular today, but keep in mind that your liver does an amazing job, just make sure you have adequate amounts of iron in your diet and you’ll be fine.

It is also essential in the maintenance and functioning of the immune system. Bacteria also require iron for growth, however. If you’re taking lots of supplemental iron that has not been prescribed by your physician, bacteria can grow more easily. It is for that reason that many nutrition-support products, like things given intravenously in the hospital, are iron-free.

More Facts About Iron: Bioavailability

On average, only about 10% of the dietary iron that you consume is absorbed by the body. In general, women absorb 13% of iron and men about 6%. Why does that happen? The amount of iron that is absorbed depends on what is needed. Absorption can range from 1% to 50% depending on your state of deficiency. Absorption is more effective during times of deficiency. If you are deficient your body actually ramps up the absorption.

Dietary iron comes in two distinct forms: heme iron and nonheme iron. Heme iron is found mainly in animal products and is absorbed much more effectively than nonheme irons, which is found in grains and plants. If you’re vegetarian your absorption of iron might be compromised.

Is there anything you could do to increase the absorption of iron? Your grandmother probably had the best answer: cooking with a black iron skillet can be a valuable source of contaminant iron. It can increase the iron content of a meal from anywhere between 30% to 100%.

There are other things in the diet that can influence the amount of iron you absorb. Calcium, zinc, magnesium and phosphorus can also reduce the absorption of iron. Tannic acids is found in coffee and tea, and it also decreases absorption, so much that if you drink coffee or tea around an hour before or after a meal, you can reduce your absorption by as much as 40%.

More Facts About Iron: Deficiency and Toxicity

Deficiencies can be caused by chronic bleeding or malabsorption. Children, pregnant or menstruating women and repeat blood donors are at most risk for iron deficiency. One in ten pre-menopausal women in the United States has deficiency of this mineral. The symptoms of deficiency include short attention span (mostly in children). In adults in can manifest as extreme fatigue or poor immune system functioning. Other biological markers are pale inner eyelids and behavioral changes. Eventually, deficiency is going to impair red blood cell synthesis and the result is iron deficiency anemia.

Can you have an excess of iron? Yes. Iron toxicity due to the overconsumption of dietary iron is not common, especially since nonheme iron absorption decreases as you eat more of it. The excess iron acts as an oxidant, and it can have very negative health implications. Irons poisoning is common when children eat vitamins like candy. Treat your supplements like drugs. Iron overdose from supplements is one of the leading causes of poisoning under the age of 6.

Iron supplementation in those with normal stores can actually increase DNA damage, and this in turn increases the risk of cancer. Individuals who eat large amounts of calories are also at risk of iron overload. This is so because it is hard to find foods that are not fortified with iron.

People who received repeated blood transfusions and alcoholics are at high risk of having iron poisoning. Large amounts of alcohol can actually increase the uptake of iron.

The upper limit of iron intake is 45 milligrams per day for adults. For teens and children is 40 milligrams. If you have a deficiency, your physician may prescribe higher doses than that.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

How to Lower Your Blood Pressure Without a Pill

Keeping blood pressure within a normal range is very important because it reduces the risk of heart failure, coronary heart disease, kidney disease and stroke. Sodium and potassium balance is the key to keep a healthy blood pressure. There is a lot of confusion about these two minerals, however. Sodium intake in the United States regularly exceeds the recommended daily amount of less than 2300 milligrams. Studies have shown that the higher the person’s salt intake, the higher the individual’s blood pressure. Along with this problem of sodium overconsumption is the under-consumption of its antagonist: potassium. Higher potassium intake helps to lower blood pressure by blunting the effects of sodium. Diets rich in potassium are also associated with a reduced risk of developing kidney stones as well as reduction of bone lose with age.

Here I want to talk about some practical ways to reduce your sodium, increase your potassium, and enjoy a healthy cardiovascular system. Visit this page to know how much of these minerals you need to eat daily and why, if you’re healthy. If you have any health problem, consult your doctor.

Facts About Sodium Intake in the American Diet

77% of the sodium we consume comes from food processing. So, the more processed a food is (the higher the ingredient list or the more hands touched it), the higher the sodium content and the lower the potassium content.

12% of the sodium is naturally occurring. This means sodium naturally found in the food, not added by the manufacturer. Some food items are naturally higher in sodium than others. Milk is a great example.

6% of the sodium is added at the table.

5% is added during cooking.

Studies have shown that an individual's preference for salt is not genetically fixed. If you reduce the amount of sodium in your diet, your mouth gets used to the taste after a while and your cravings disappear. You can use other flavoring in place of salt. I personally love spicy foods. Your food can be spicy and not salty. You can use chili, red pepper and others.

Other studies have shown that the amount of salt that people add to their food at the dinner table is generally stable. I’ve seen individuals who add salt to their food even before tasting it. This is just a well-established habit, not a real necessity.

Practical Steps

According to the facts about our American diet, the most important thing is to focus on food selection: more fresh, less processed. Because most sodium comes from manufacturing practices, it is important to read and compare food labels of different brands. For example, the sodium content of one brand of soup that you like might be over 1000 milligrams sodium, compared to 700 milligrams in another brand that you like as well. Always choose the lower sodium content. Do this even if you don’t have high blood pressure now.

Avoid overly processed foods, prepared meals and mixes. Remember that the more hands touched it, the higher the sodium content. You can also think about this as the more instant the food is, the higher the sodium content. Think about instant cakes and other things that are quick and easy to make. If you make a cake the old-fashioned way with milk and flavoring, it is going to have only the natural sodium that is found in the milk. If you make an instant cake, you can watch on the label how the sodium content rises.

Another invaluable way of reducing your blood pressure is to increase your potassium intake. To increase your potassium you should want to include more leafy green vegetables, root vegetables and fruits in your diet. All of these are rich in potassium and they favorably affect metabolic processes that can reduce your risk of kidney stones and bone loss.

Balance your plate with at least 50% fruits and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables are where potassium resides. Certainly you can limit condiments such as barbecue sauce. These condiments are a hidden source of sodium.

If aren’t eating any fruits or vegetables at all, start with a fruit a day. You can increase gradually from there. Keep adding more and more fruits and vegetables to your daily diet, they’re always good (unless you get an orange glow in your skin from eating too many carrots!).

If you keep improving your diet like that, you’ll reach a point where you no longer crave salty foods. You will understand that you didn’t really need it, it was just a habit. When you have established the new positive habit, it would be as well-established as the old one: you’ll be addicted to your new healthy diet!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Sodium and Potassium: Deficiency and Excess

Your body works really hard to keep the amount of sodium and potassium in your blood normal, as that is essential for fluid management. However, deficiencies and excesses are possible. Some individuals have great sodium loses through their skin. Endurance athletes are an example (marathoners, triathlon runners, etc.). If you are exercising for more than two hours you’re going to have a significant amount of sodium lose due to excess sweat. The amount of sodium lost through sweat varies significantly among individuals, and depends on whether or not you’re a salty sweater. How do you know that? Well, if when running you can feel the grains of salt on your face, you are a salty sweater. If you’re a salty sweater you lose more sodium in your sweat than normal.

Sodium loses in athletes can be up to 2500 milligrams of sodium per liter of sweat. Sweat tends to be saltier in the early stages of training. When you train longer, your body actually reduces the amount of sodium loss. If you are working out for more than an hour, I encourage you to drink a sports drink with enough sodium, at least 100 milligrams per 8 ounces. Although fluid consumption is important for the prevention of cramping during exercise, it is almost always the excessive loss of sodium that causes it.

Sodium deficiency, called hyponatremia, is most often seen in endurance athletes who eat a large amount of fresh food (with very low sodium content) and drink water excessively during exercise. Hyponatremia can cause the brain to swell, lack of energy and confusion. I’ve heard of college fraternities hazing with water. You almost get the same kind of look to the person as when they had too much alcohol.

There are no upper safety limits that have been established for sodium because excess amounts are generally filtered and excreted by the kidneys. Excess consumption of this mineral is associated, however, with higher blood pressure, edema and fluid retention. High blood pressure, as a disease, is associated with increased risk of heart attack, heart failure and stroke. Additionally, high blood pressure is the leading cause of chronic kidney failure. Keep in mind that even a moderate elevation of arterial blood pressure can cause a shortened life expectancy. This is why controlling and limiting your sodium intake is so vital. A great gift you can give your children is to not salt your food. The more you introduce it in young children, the more likely they are to depend on it the older they get.

Potassium deficiencies are rarely due to dietary causes alone. It can develop due to the over-excretion of potassium, which is medication-induced. Another underappreciated cause of low potassium is a low-carbohydrate diet. Low carbohydrate diets contain very little potassium, because they eliminate most fruits and vegetables.

What are the general symptoms of potassium deficiencies? Fatigue, muscular weakness, confusion, anxiety, temporary memory loss, diarrhea or constipation, sleep disruption and noise in your ear. These symptoms are vague, non-specific and often described as “don’t feel well”.

What about too much potassium, or hyperkalemia? It is most often caused by abnormal kidney or renal functioning, resulting in ineffective elimination. For example, if you have kidney disease and end up with dialysis, you lose the body’s ability to get rid of the potassium excess. Excessive intake of potassium causing hyperkalemia is rare. Excessive intake of salt substitutes, however, may cause it. If I use a salt substitute I’m getting rid of the sodium, but I have to put some other mineral for my food to have a taste. Often these salt substitutes have potassium chloride. Dietary supplements also can be a source of excess potassium. The general symptoms are heart palpitations, muscular weakness and sometimes sudden death in extreme cases.

These are the results of too much or too little sodium or potassium in your body. Excessive sodium intake is common among Americans. This, as I mentioned, causes a higher risk of heart disease because of higher blood pressure. This is why keeping your sodium relatively low and your potassium high is so vital. In a future article I’ll give you practical tips to do just that, stay tuned.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Sodium Vs. Potassium

There is a lot of confusion about sodium and its partner potassium. They play a very important role in regulating fluid exchange within body compartments. As such, blood levels of these electrolytes are rarely affected only by dietary means. That makes sense, if they are so integral to function, your body must have a lot of defense mechanisms to keep the blood values of them within narrow range. These two minerals play a major role in blood pressure. Keeping blood pressure within a normal range is very important because it reduces the risk of heart failure, coronary heart disease, kidney disease and stroke. In general, the higher the person’s salt intake, the higher the individual’s blood pressure.

Sodium intake in the United States regularly exceeds the recommended daily amount of less than 2300 milligrams. Since sodium makes up about 40% of salt, this amount is about a tea spoon of table salt a day.

There is about 4500 milligrams of sodium in a typical western diet, but this truly depends on the region where you live in. Since the body only requires 500 milligrams of sodium per day, this means many of us are taking almost ten times what we need. However, it’s not practical to only consume the body biological requirement. Sodium is in a lot of different foods, so it’s really practical (almost impossible) to reduce your sodium intake to that minimum requirement.

Along with this problem of sodium overconsumption is the under-consumption of its “antagonist”: potassium. Higher potassium intake helps to lower blood pressure by blunting the effects of sodium. Diets rich in potassium are also associated with a reduced risk of developing kidney stones as well as reduction of bone lose with age.

What are the functions of these wonderful electrolytes? Sodium and potassium are necessary for the regulation of blood and other fluids, they stimulate the action of muscular activity, proper gland function and heart activity. They are also really important for maintaining what is called the electrochemical gradients. Sodium is essential for hydration because it pumps water into your cells. Potassium functions in the pumping of byproducts or waste products out of the cell. They really serve as the body’s fluid regulator and waste product regulator.

How much sodium and potassium do I need? I cannot stress this enough: in general, healthy adults should consume no more than 2300 milligrams of sodium per day. African Americans, individuals from middle age or older and individuals with high blood pressure should aim to consume no more 1500 milligrams per day.

What about potassium? The recommended amount for adults is 4700 milligrams. You can see that you need much more potassium than sodium.

Sources of Sodium (try to avoid them as much as you can if you are a normal healthy adult):

1 teaspoon of salt2300 milligrams
1 cup cottage cheese, 2% fat746 milligrams
2 slices ham, extra lean601 milligrams

Great Sources of Potassium:

1 medium sweet potato, baked694 mg
1 medium potato, baked, with skin610 milligrams
1 banana467 milligrams
1 cup milk, 1%–2% fat366 milligrams
1 cup broccoli, steamed505 milligrams
1 cup tomatoes399 milligrams
1 cup carrots, raw394 milligrams

Monday, April 5, 2010


Magnesium is an essential mineral and the fourth most abundant in the human body. It plays a role in bone mineralization, energy metabolism, muscle contraction and nerve impulse transmission. About 50% of the body’s total magnesium is housed in the bone. The other 50% is in cells of tissues and organs. Only 1% is in the blood, and the body keeps this fraction as a constant. More than 300 enzymes require the use of this mineral. Reactions catalyzed by it include fatty acid synthesis, glucose metabolism and protein productions. It also enhances the absorption of calcium in the intestine.

Increasingly, there has been an awareness that magnesium may be used to treat, manage and prevent disorders such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes and hypertension.

It is the central mineral in chlorophyll. That means that anything that’s green is going to be a good source of it. Another source of magnesium can be tap water. The amount varies whether the water supply of minerals is hard or soft. Hard water, usually naturally contains more minerals, including magnesium.

Whole grains are great sources of it. However, when the grains are refined and they take off that outer bran area, magnesium and B vitamins are lost. The B vitamins are replaced, but magnesium is not.

Deficiencies in the United States are not prevalent. The concern of under-consumption of magnesium does not seem to be high among healthcare providers. However, dietary surveys show that Americans do not have enough of this mineral in their diet. Optimal intake may protect against cardiovascular disease and immune dysfunction.

Symptoms of deficiency include confusion, hallucinations, nervousness and muscular weakness. Suboptimal levels increase the likelihood of metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes. These diseases are epidemic in the United States. So, keep eating your green vegetables and whole grains!

Older adults have an increased risk of having a deficiency. Magnesium supplements may benefit individuals who have trouble controlling their diabetes. These individuals often experience an increased mineral loss in their urine. Other people who could benefit from supplements are alcoholics. 30% to 60% of alcoholics demonstrate low blood levels of this mineral.

Excess magnesium is filtered through the kidney, so it is hard to overdose from dietary sources. Renal disease, however, can cause deficiency and excess. Typical symptoms of excess magnesium include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and low blood pressure. If the state of excess continues for a prolonged period of time, the toxicity can result in cardiovascular and muscle irregularities.

Daily Recommended Amounts

Infant, 0–6 months30 milligrams
Infant, 7–12 months75 milligrams
Child, 1–3 years80 milligrams
Child, 4–8 years130 milligrams
Male, 9–13 years240 milligrams
Male, 14–18 years410 milligrams
Male, 19–50 years400 milligrams
Male, 51–70 years420 milligrams
Female, 9–13 years240 milligrams
Female, 14–18 years360 milligrams
Female, 19–50 years320 milligrams
Female, 51–70 years320 milligrams

Good Sources

1 oz cashews745 milligrams
1 cup broccoli39 milligrams
1 cup spinach, boiled156 milligrams
1 oz pumpkin seeds, roasted151 milligrams
1 cup black beans120 milligrams
1 banana32 milligrams
1 cup oatmeal56 milligrams

Saturday, April 3, 2010


Calcium is the most plentiful mineral in the human body and it has several significant roles. It is one of the skeleton’s primary building blocks. We find more than 99% of the body’s total calcium is in bones and teeth, where it provides structural support. The rest is found throughout the body: fluid between cells, blood and muscles. Outside its function in bone, it plays other important ones: in secreting hormones and enzymes and regulating their activity, it is used to send messages throughout the nervous system, it is involved in blood clotting and it aids in blood vessel and muscle contraction and expansion, it also contributes to normal heart rhythm.

For these important processes to take place efficiently, body fluids and tissues must maintain a constant level of this mineral. The skeleton stores calcium and other minerals. If the blood content of this mineral is too low, the body replenishes it with calcium stored in the bones.

Calcium deficiency is not often detected because of the lack of symptoms. Often it is only detected when there has been an extensive amount of bone mass lost. Diets high in protein and sodium can limit the bioavailability of this mineral. As Americans consume more and more protein in their diet, they may be impacting their absorption of this mineral.

When the reservoir of calcium in your bone is depleted, bone fractures can occur even under minimum stress. Outside of its effects in bone, the risk of inadequate intake can lead to increased risk of high blood pressure. Some studies suggest that there is an increased risk of colon cancer linked with poor intake.

Osteopenia, often the beginning of osteoporosis, is also caused by deficiency of this mineral in diet. Bones are dynamic tissues and they are constantly going through a process of breakdown and deposition. As people grow older, the amounts of breakdown and deposition are altered. More formation and less breakdown happens during childhood. With older people happens the opposite. You get one shot to build the skeleton, and that’s during the period of rapid bone formation from age 11 to 24. If you miss this bone formation time you won’t have the chance to do it later in life.

In early-middle adulthood, breakdown and deposition are nearly the same. In aging adults, and particularly in post-menopausal women, bone loss surpasses deposition. This bone loss increases the risk for osteoporosis. Some studies suggest that within the first year after menopause, women can lose up to 7% of bone. Exercise and diet can help to reduce the loss. Make sure to include strength training to your routine.

Calcium alone doesn’t improve bone mass. Too little calories, too little vitamin D and the wrong form of exercise can contribute to bone loss in even young women. Deficiency can also lead to poor blood clotting.

What about excess? Excess intake of this mineral can lead to a condition called hypercalcemia. This condition is often due to excessive vitamin D intake and is rarely caused by diet alone. In individuals with cancer, hypercalcemia may be present due to cancer’s effect on the bone. Cancer can chew up the bone and release calcium onto the bloodstream. Hypercalcemia causes fatigue, depression, confusion, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, constipation, pancreatitis and increased urination.

Daily Recommended Amounts

Infant, 0–6 months210 milligrams
Infant, 7–12 months270 milligrams
Child, 1–3 years500 milligrams
Child, 4–8 years800 milligrams
Male, 9–18 years1300 milligrams
Male, 19–50 years1000 milligrams
Male, 51–70 years1300 milligrams
Female, 9–18 years1300 milligrams
Female, 19–50 years1000 milligrams
Female, 51–70 years1200 milligrams

Food Sources

1 cup cottage cheese, 2% fat206 milligrams
3 oz sardines325 milligrams
1 cup milk, 2% fat296 milligrams
8 oz yogurt, fruit, low-fat345 milligrams
1 cup broccoli, cooked62 milligrams
1 cup navy beans126 milligrams
1 cup kale, cooked94 milligrams
Template by bloggertheme