Chapter 3 – Are We Getting Enough Minerals?
Mineral deficiency is widespread and can be seen in the sharp increase in osteoporosis. It is on the rise in most western countries. In the U.S. 30 million people over 50 are prone to fractures caused by mineral deficiencies in their bones. Over one third of women living in America will eventually be diagnosed with osteoporosis.
Osteoporosis is often allowed to get a virtually irreversible foothold because only when you’ve lost approximately 30% of your bone mass will you be diagnosed with the disease.
By then it is very hard for most people to climb back from that amount of bone deficit. As well, it is speculated that the majority of westerners, due largely to poor diets, have some type of joint degeneration by the time they are 40 years old.
In a perpetual process of breakdown and renewal, every year roughly 20% of our bone mass is recycled and replaced. Bones are huge warehouses for calcium, magnesium, phosphorous, and other minerals, all of which are critical for the healthy operation of every cell in the body. When blood calcium and other mineral levels run low, or if your blood becomes too acidic, a sequence of complex biological reactions begin, telling the body to take needed minerals from bone. When mineral levels in the blood go back to normal, these feedback mechanisms are reversed.
The Calcium Paradox
Calcium for instance is one mineral that is forced to vacate its post in the bones for the greater emergency of buffering (essentially ‘mopping up’) overly acidic blood. This is one of the main reasons people in western countries, who consume the highest levels of calcium globally, still suffer from the highest rates of osteoporosis. It’s so prevalent that it has come to be known as ‘the calcium paradox’.
Vegetarians are generally not as prone to this paradox because it’s diets high in animal products that typically drive up the acidity of the blood. But still there are many ways vegetarians can end up with acidic blood and end up leaching calcium from their bones.
Vegetarians who consume ample calcium still get osteoporosis, and here are some of the reasons why:
Vegetarian Blood Acidifiers :
- Refined foods (white bread, white rice)
- Processed foods
If you consume any or all of these then getting ample calcium is mandatory in order to make up for the possible deficit.
The Calcium Paradox – Part 2
Another often overlooked reason that osteoporosis is hitting epidemic proportions (it’s predicted that by 2020, 40 million American women will be over the age of 65, and 18- 33 percent of them will fracture a hip by the time they reach the age of 90) is because of a shortage of other minerals. (1)
So the problem is not just to do with calcium. Phosphorous, magnesium, and other minerals such as vanadium, silica, strontium, manganese and more all are ‘ingredients’ that make up our bone matrix. This is exactly why optimum amounts of these are necessary to provide the building blocks necessary to stave off osteoporosis.
Trace minerals will be covered later in this article, but first let’s consider…
How Much Calcium Do You Need?
The message from the chart above is that 75% of females and 64% of males are not meeting what’s considered to be the ‘adequate intake’ (AI) of calcium.
Plants That Deliver You Calcium
|Collard Greens (Cooked)||1 cup||357 mg|
|Blackstrap molasses||2 Tbsp||344 mg|
|Figs||1 cup||300 mg|
|Turnip Greens (Cooked)||1 cup||249 mg|
|Kale (Cooked)||1 cup||179 mg|
|Okra (Cooked)||1 cup||177 mg|
|Bok Choy (Cooked)||1 cup||158 mg|
|Dandelion Greens||1 cup||147 mg|
|Mustard Greens||1 cup||150 mg|
|Tahini||2 Tbsp||130 mg|
|Brocoli||1 cup||100 mg|
|Almonds||1/4 cup||89 mg|
|Almond Butter||2 Tbsp||86 mg|
|Garbanzo Beans||1 cup||80 mg|
- Committee to Review Dietary Reference Intakes for Vitamin D and Calcium, Food and Nutrition Board, Institute of Medicine. Dietary Reference Intakes for Calcium and Vitamin D. Washington, DC: National Academy Press, 2010.