Calcium – its role for lactation
Apricots — one of our strongest lactogenic fruit, and especially rich in calcium.
Calcium and magnesium work together to maintain healthy nerves, strong muscles, and a rhythmic heartbeat. In the brain, they promote neural activity and act as a natural antidepressant. A lack of calcium and magnesium can lead to insomnia, irritability, exhaustion, mental confusion, heart rhythm problems, and depression, among other difficulties, in adults. In children, a lack of these minerals has been implicated in allergic and behavioral disorders.
Calcium and magnesium may also be crucial to maintaining a good supply of milk. It is recommended that we supplement these minerals together, in a ratio of two or three times as much calcium as magnesium, or 2-3:1. Some experts, however, suggest we supplement on a ratio of 1:1, as many people are sorely deficient in magnesium.
1000 mg of calcium is the daily requirement—1200 mg for breastfeeding women—in the US. Many adult women are deficient in calcium in spite of a diet rich in calcium-fortified foods. What is wrong with this picture? Traditional peoples around the world get far less calcium than we do: 400 – 600 mg of calcium per day is the norm. Even so, there are seldom signs of calcium deficiency in cultures that have maintained their whole-foods diet.
Check out Weston A. Price’s book Nutrition and Physical Degeneration for photographic documentation of the teeth of indigenous peoples, before and after they began eating a diet of refined foods. In the before pictures, we see wide jaws and beautiful strong teeth, free of cavities. The after pictures feature the narrow jaws and crooked teeth so common to industrialized societies.
The reason Americans lack calcium is not that we eat too little calcium-rich foods, but because our diet causes calcium to be leeched from our bones and teeth. We can make better use of our calcium intake by improving our dietary habits.
Foods that Deplete Calcium:
Fibrous bulk is sometimes taken to reduce appetite and to promote regular bowel movements. Minerals bind to this fiber in the intestine, so that they pass through the intestine rather than into the bloodstream.
Protein. We often eat meals that are too heavy on protein (meat, eggs, milk). Excess protein is acid-forming. In order to protect tissues in the body from acidity, the body uses calcium to neutralize the acid. This is another reason that a high-protein diet can lead to a depletion of calcium.
Diuretics. Foods and medication that stimulate the kidney will cause minerals, including calcium, to be excreted into the urine. Herbal diuretics, such as nettle and dandelion, restore the minerals that they cause to be lost. Excessive protein will also cause the kidneys to go into overdrive and will lead to a loss of calcium.
Caffeine causes calcium to be excreted with urine. Caffeine is found in coffee, tea, chocolate, and most carbonated beverages.
Excessive salt also causes calcium to be excreted with urine.
Phosphorus has to be in the right balance for calcium metabolism to work. Too little phosphorus prevents the body from using calcium. Too much and the excess phosphorus binds to calcium, pulling it right out of the bones.
Foods that are high in phosphorus are: dairy, meat, white flour, and carbonated soft drinks. These foods cause calcium to be pulled out of the bones—which is why people who eat meat regularly need to supplement with higher dosages of calcium.
Sugar decreases phosphorus in the blood. After eating sugar, phosphorus is so low that the body is unable to utilize calcium.
Keep Calcium in Your Bones
Reduce caffeine, white sugar, and table salt. Most people overdose on the sugar and salt found in processed foods, snacks, candy, and junk foods. Eat a whole-foods diet, and chose natural sugar sources that are rich in minerals—blackstrap molasses, malt syrup, maple syrup or honey. Use a quality, contaminant-free ancient sea salt, such as the affordable and easily available product RealSalt, derived from the ancient sea beds of Utah.
Limit animal protein—roughly three small to moderate servings a day, balanced with vegetables, grains, legumes, and fruit.
Sunlight. At least twenty minutes of sunlight each and every day on exposed skin, such as bare arms and legs, will provide the vitamin D necessary to utilize calcium, if you are a young, healthy person. (Sun through a window is not adequate.)
For most of us, sufficient daily exposure to sunlight is not possible and it is necessary to supplement with vitamin D.
Building sufficient amounts of vitamin D is essential to having a fully functioning, robust immune system.
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