Guest post by Dr. Felice Gersh
Calcium is the most abundant mineral in the human body and is a crucial factor in numerous body functions and structures. But what should a woman do to ensure she is consuming the correct amount of calcium to maintain a healthy body? Does a woman with PCOS need to drink milk?
Until recently, the dogma of consuming large amounts of calcium went unchallenged, but it is now recognized that the studies used to create that advice were poorly done, and the data is less than clear on the value of calcium supplements. Most data are now not in support of calcium supplements, or at least suggest consuming them only in small amounts!
The Pros and Cons of Calcium
Previously, it was thought that calcium supplements provided a large array of metabolic benefits: improving cardiovascular well-being, lowering blood pressure, and reducing diabetes risk. Of course, it was also thought that it would help bones stay strong. Certainly, calcium itself is important for those functions.
The current state of knowledge is that calcium supplementation in small amounts may be beneficial, but larger quantities of calcium supplements do not seem to provide those desired benefits after all and actually may increase the incidence of kidney stones. There is even concern that excessive calcium supplementation may cause calcium deposits to develop in the artery walls.
What is the Best Source of Usable Calcium?
It turns out that the best way to get calcium into your body, to ensure a healthy set of bones and a healthy cardiovascular system, is through the diet. The dairy industry has made it seem absolutely necessary that large amounts of dairy products be consumed daily, and the newest US nutrition guidelines also advise a glass of milk with each meal!
Not only is this unnecessary, it is downright harmful, most particularly for women with PCOS. Dairy is an acid producing food, and calcium will not get into bones if the blood is acidic, making dairy products an inferior source of calcium.
Calcium is a natural antacid. Removing it from the blood would make the blood even more acidic, and calcium cannot move out to the tissues from an acidic environment. Only in an alkaline situation can calcium leave the blood to move into tissues. The only foods which alkalize the blood are vegetables!
Did you know that there is much more usable calcium in a cup of collard greens than in a cup of milk? Most people don’t realize the calcium content of greens is so high. Best of all, the calcium in greens is usable by the body and doesn’t just pass out with the urine or cause stones!
So what do I recommend?
Eat large quantities of green vegetables and lots of greens. As a side note- chard and spinach are very healthy, but the oxalates in them bind with the calcium and preclude their use, so be sure to include a variety of vegetables each day.
I also recommend only a small amount of calcium as a supplement in most cases. Keeping the supplement dose to 500 mg daily is safe and may help.
Women over 50 or those with low stomach acid should avoid calcium carbonate. It is poorly absorbed. In general, keep calcium carbonate to a minimum and choose other forms.
Remember that calcium, like all minerals and vitamins, doesn’t work in isolation. Be sure to get plenty of sunlight for Vitamin D production and magnesium from walnuts and sunflower seeds, and include supplements for them as well, if needed.
In summary, fresh green vegetables should remain your primary source of calcium. And please avoid dairy, it is inflammatory, increases acne, and it is associated with weaker (not stronger) bones. That is truly what the data shows!
Now go eat a wonderful green salad and some sautéed greens!
Good luck and good food choices always!
Dr. Felice Gersh is one of only a small number of fellowship trained integrative gynecologists in the nation. She blends the best of the world of natural and holistic medicine with state of the art functional and allopathic medical treatment. Because of her extensive knowledge of the complex inter-relationships of the body’s organs, she recognizes the need to investigate all aspects of health, always working to re-establish a healthy gastrointestinal tract, adequate sleep,
good mood, great nutrition, high energy, and balanced hormones.
Expert in all areas of women’s health, and particularly of gynecological and reproductive matters, Dr. Gersh deals in an integrative manner with such uniquely female issues as polycystic ovary disease (PCOS).
She is currently writing a book on Polycystic Ovary Syndrome and writing a chapter on the same topic for a medical textbook.
You may contact Dr. Gersh at:
Integrative Medical Group of Irvine, 4968 Booth Circle, Suite 101, Irvine, California 92604