I want to settle the calcium issue in my mind. I wrote a blog in June, but I kept reading more. Here is some of what I have learned:
• Asian and African cultures with low calcium intake (300 mg daily) have little osteoporosis.
• Vitamin K2 is necessary to prevent bone loss and most healthy adults are deficient.
• A study from Holland revealed a relationship between K2 and a lower incidence of calcification of arteries.
• K2 deficiency causes calcium to not be deposited in bones where it belongs but to be deposited in arteries, in soft tissues (including breast and kidneys), in feet as heel spurs.
• Calcification of arteries to the brain is felt to be a component of Alzheimer’s Disease. About 25% of people who have a particular genetic risk for developing Alzheimer’s Disease all have low levels of Vitamin K.
• The problem is not too much calcium, it’s not enough magnesium. Magnesium keeps calcium dissolved in the blood stream and in urine.
• If you don’t have enough magnesium you can experience muscle spasms, fibromyalgia, hardening of the arteries, or dental cavities. Too much calcium and not enough magnesium in the kidneys can lead to kidney stones.
• Magnesium has more to do with bone density than calcium.
• Magnesium relaxes the muscles; calcium tightens the muscles.
• High calcium levels interfere with Vitamin D and its role in preventing viral infections and cancer.
• Vitamin D3 may be better than other forms
• The classic Calcium:Magnesium ratio is 2:1, but some research shows that it should be 1:1.
• Acid substances tighten; while alkaline substances relax. Magnesium is alkaline and relaxes the tension, stiffness, and spasms, as well as headaches, muscle cramps, constipation, and heart palpitations.
Aaargh! The internet gives too much information. I can’t absorb it all, and I don’t know what to believe when statistics are in conflict.
Everyone my age worries about Alzheimer’s. Every woman my age is concerned about bone loss.
I am particularly interested in the idea of calcium in breast tissue, because my mammogram shows this. I blogged several years ago about being called back for a second screening when a doctor was worried about calcium deposits.
I decided to experiment with myself. I have been taking a lot of calcium at a 2:1 ratio. I’ve cut my calcium back to just under 1,000 mg per day. I changed the ratio to 4:3. I’ve ordered some K2, but it’s not here yet.
At first the results were not encouraging.
I’ve had muscle cramps in the night and a crick in my neck. Is this because I’m not getting enough calcium or because after years of getting too much my body automatically discards minerals? I’ve had a slight metallic taste in my mouth. Is that because I’m taking too much magnesium or because unnecessary minerals are leaving my tissues?
I’m going to give my body a week or so to adjust. I also want to see how the K2 works into the mix. I may switch to Magnesium Malate. I’ve read interesting things about how it is absorbed.
Knowing that every Blood Type has different needs and within the Types different people have different requirements, I’m working to come up with a plan that is better for me than what I have been doing.
I meet two friends at the neighborhood fitness center once a week. Last week one of them asked me if I still took calcium supplements after the new report linking calcium supplements with heart attacks. I hadn’t read about the study. Lin came to my rescue and posted a news article about on the Forum. Calcium News
First a disclaimer: I am not a medical professional or nutritionist. I haven’t read the original study reports. However, I have been an avid reader about preventive health care for more than 35 years. What follows is my opinion, plus a few quotes from books that I have found trustworthy.
The thing that jumped out at me in the news article is that it did not mention whether the study distinguished between calcium-only supplements and supplements containing calcium, magnesium, and Vitamin D.
Most grocery store calcium is compressed calcium tablets without magnesium. In my opinion those tablets are worthless. Whether they cause heart attacks, I have no idea, but if the study was based on people taking calcium supplements that they buy at the grocery store, the results are skewed from the start.
Compressed tablets are not easily absorbed under the best of circumstances and in older women who are likely to have reduced digestive function, very little of the calcium is absorbed. This advice is under Calcium – Warnings in Prescription for Nutritional Healing. “Test your brand of calcium to assure absorption. Place the calcium pill in a glass of warm water and shake. If the calcium does not dissolve within 24 hours, change to another brand or form.” If you are going to take calcium supplements, do not waste your money on tablets. Get capsules chewables or liquid-gels.
Calcium and Magnesium must be taken together in order for either one of them to be useful. The rule of thumb is 2:1 calcium:magnesium. Some supplement manufacturers vary that ratio a little. Forty years ago Adelle Davis was writing that calcium taken without magnesium would actually cause calcium to be withdrawn from bones. Almost every book on my shelf talks about the importance of magnesium to prevention of heart disease. Here is just one quote from Dr. D in Live Right. “Many people with high cholesterol and triglycerides are magnesium deficient, so you may need a supplement.” If Calcium and Magnesium work together and must be simultaneously in the blood stream, why would anyone expect a Calcium-only supplement to be helpful, and why would anyone be surprised when research shows that it may be harmful?
Calcium and Magnesium need Vitamin D to be absorbed. If you do not get enough sunshine, and/or supplement with Vitamin D, the Calcium supplements you take may not wind up in your bones where you want them. They may wind up in your kidneys as stones or in your arteries as atherosclerosis.
Another factor is fluoride, which binds with calcium and prevents it from getting into bones. As a post menopausal woman, I resent the fact that my tap water is intentionally contaminated with a chemical that will hurt my bones.
The Type O diet doesn’t make getting calcium from food very easy. Most dairy is avoid. The few cheeses that are neutral, I use as garnishes rather than as main courses. Spinach, kale and almonds would be good sources of dietary calcium, if they didn’t contain so much oxalic acid which interferes with absorption and is linked to kidney stones and joint pain.
So I will continue to take calcium supplements in spite of the study. But no grocery store calcium for me. Capsules, chewables, or liquid-gels where calcium is combined with magnesium and Vitamin D.
I went to Google News tonight looking for financial news. It must have been a big day for research result releases. Here are tidbits from stories that had BTD and women’s health connections.
This study contradicts the popular notion that soy isoflavones will prevent bone loss in menopausal women. I wish I knew the blood type breakdown of the women in the study. Soy is a neutral food for Type Os, but it is beneficial for Type As. I once read that isoflavones were supposed to help menopausal women, so I tried mixing some of my Type A daughter’s soy protein powder in with my breakfast. It didn’t settle with my stomach, so I abandoned the idea. I tried the tablets for a while, but didn’t notice that they had any effect on me at all.
I should have listened to Dr. D. In the Menopause book he writes, “Essentially carnivores when it comes to protein requirements, Blood Type Os should minimize consumption of beans and legumes…An exception for menopausal women may be soy beans. They contain isoflavones that help minimize symptoms, build up bone, and protect the heart.” Then he lists them as neutral, the same as he does in all the other books.
The recommended dose of calcium for women over 51, is 1200 mg per day. I actually take a little more than that since I don’t eat dairy. This study indicates that the lowest fracture risk was with women taking 750 mg per day. The study also indicated that women who wait until they are older to start taking calcium do not decrease their fracture risk.
Interestingly, the Menopause book lists calcium last on the list of bone supplement protocols. Dr. D. suggested 1,000 mg. He puts Horsetail, Manganese, Vitamin A and Boron as more important than calcium. Looks like I may be wasting money taking as much calcium as I do.
Dr. D lists Flax as a beneficial food for Type Os of all ages. I eat it for the fiber and the essential oils. I didn’t know that it contained plant estrogens that were supposed to help hot flashes. The study contradicts the hot flash theory, and said that it had no more impact on hot flashes that a placebo.
This was the most peculiar of the studies. The very drugs that many women take to prevent osteoporosis are linked to fractures of the thigh bone. I have had my bone density checked twice, and I am not showing any signs of osteoporosis, so I haven’t taken any of these drugs. I’m glad I haven’t.
A lot of popular theories about menopause and osteoporosis were shot down today - if you believe the studies are completely accurate. I will continue taking calcium, but not as much. I will eat flax for its other benefits. I’ve already stopped taking soy, and I don’t plan to take the osteoporosis drugs.
Weight bearing exercise is looking like a really good choice for women my age. I’m halfway expecting to read a study about that tomorrow.
I am thankful to the Lord for many things this Thanksgiving week. Among them is thankfulness for a good osteoporosis report. Several years I blogged about Life Line Screening coming to our church to do non invasive tests that identify risk factors for stroke. Shortly after my Mom’s stroke, we got a brochure about another Life Line Screening in the town where we now live. We agreed that we should get tested again. This time, I chose to also test my risk for osteoporosis.
I have been on the Blood Type Diet since 2003, which has meant no milk and practically no dairy products for 6 years. Other dietary sources of calcium are limited. The amount of almonds or spinach to get the recommended intake for a menopausal woman would be far beyond what I could eat every day. I have wanted to try bone broth, but I have not yet found a local provider of marrow bones. I have been careful to take calcium/magnesium supplements as well as silica and Vitamin D. However, I wanted verification that my bones were still strong.
The results are in, and I am very happy to report that both HH and I were within the normal range on all of the stroke and aneurysm tests. What a relief! And I tested as low risk for osteoporosis. Hurrah!
This is not a commercial for Life Line. I have no vested interested in their company, and I’m sure there are other companies that provide a similar service. I am impressed at their reasonably priced, non invasive screenings in a non medical environment. No needles, no radiation, no embarrassment. We were tested for Carotid Artery Disease, Atrial Fibrillation, Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm, Peripheral Arterial Disease, and Osteoporosis. They sent two copies of their results – one for our files and one to give to our doctor.
I am thankful for the good results, and thankful that the BTD is doing what is supposed to be doing, inside, where I can’t see.
It seems to me that there is a natural tendency for cholesterol levels to drift higher and higher every year as people get older. I haven’t read this in a study, but I talk to people whose cholesterol numbers were nicely balanced when they were 30 years old. However, the numbers were moving upward by 40 and in the warning zone at 50. By 60 they are on statins.
My own cholesterol numbers were drifting higher when I started the BTD. There was a marked improvement when I first went on the diet. But the last two years they had started to drift upwards again. My ratio was still good, but my LDL drifted above the high mark for the first time ever.
I wrote a blog in April about what I was changing in my diet to try to stop the drift.
I am thrilled to say it worked. Here are my numbers from my July cholesterol test.
Total Cholesterol: 215
I am not at all concerned about a total cholesterol number 15 points over the 200 level when my ratio is so good. My total cholesterol reads high because my good cholesterol is so high.
Prescription for the future:
Stay on BTD.
Stay on Niacin and Vitamin B6.
Maximize cholesterol lowering foods like grapefruit.
Never neglect exercise.
Don’t get complacent. The tendency to drift will surely continue. Like all forms of aging, it is the result of living in a decaying world with a body irrevocably marred by sin.
The stiffness in my finger has responded to a combination of three supplements.
In the spring when my knee was giving me trouble, I blogged that I was also waking with stiffness in my right ring finger. It felt like I had jammed it, but I didn’t remember an injury.
I haven’t complained in the intervening weeks, but I have waked every morning with a stiff and painful finger that got better as I used it during the day.
A week ago, I started taking three supplements for inflammation – quercetin, bromelain, and turmeric. I took one capsule of each at breakfast and supper. The first week there was no discernable difference. Yesterday, however, I woke with almost no pain. During the day the pain was completely gone. This morning there was only a slight twinge of stiffness.
I am very optimistic, and very, very pleased.
DD came home for the weekend to attend a training session for her summer job. Her roommate came with her to enjoy a few days of warm weather in the country. The roommate is also Type A, and she has been curious to watch how DD has eaten this semester. DD and I planned the weekend’s meals around beneficial foods that are favorites of hers. We had salmon (her family doesn’t eat much fish) and black eyed peas (which she gets only at New Years).
I wanted to fix spinach, because it is the most socially acceptable of the cooked greens. I suggested one of my favorites – spinach, raisins, and almonds - but DD reminded me that raisins are toxic for Teachers. So we used dried cherries instead. It was fabulous. I’ll never go back to raisins again.
Sunday night after they left, I had a craving for fried okra. Someone had posted on the Forum that they oven fried asparagus the same way I oven fry sweet potato chips. If it works for asparagus, why not okra? I poured thin film of light olive oil on a cookie sheet and added frozen chopped okra. I cooked it at 400 degrees, stirring every 5 minutes or so. I decided it was done when it was a little brown on the edges. That night when it was fresh and hot it was very good. I’ll admit it’s not as tasty as deep fried okra - usually coated in wheat flour and corn meal - but since that is no longer an option, this is a good substitute. I ate the left overs the next day. They were not as good – a night in the refrigerator cancelled all of the crispness.
I got my cholesterol report from when I gave blood in February. It is an improvement over my previous cholesterol report, but not quite what I had hoped. Last year my triglycerides were 72, and my ratio was 3.0 – both excellent readings. But for the first time in my life my LDL bumped above the magic 130 number. It was 150.
Some would have advised me to abandon beef and lamb which are so good for Type Os, but I knew better. I stayed with beneficial foods. I had become very liberal in my servings of beneficial oils and nuts. I cut those portions back within the BTD guidelines. I also added extra Vitamin B6.
The new report shows my triglycerides at 71 and my ratio at 2.9 – still excellent. My LDL has dropped to 135. I have let paperwork encroach on my exercise time way too often since my Dad passed away. I’ve missed the release of tension that exercise always gives me. Now I have a double reason for making sure that I don’t let desk duties distract me. I’ve also added some time release niacin just to make sure that the LDL isn’t sticking anywhere that it shouldn’t be. I’ll let you know what happens in six months.
Those of us who are interested in diet and nutrition are more attuned to little changes in our bodies. That goes doubly for people who frequent sites on the internet like the BTD website. I like to think that if something was seriously wrong, I’d notice it early. I’ve noticed several changes since Thanksgiving and Christmas.
My cold sore came back. Because they are caused by a virus, once you get one, you have to watch out for reoccurrences for a couple of years until they run their course. I thought I had beat mine into total submission, but I had to fight it back again.
One day I bumped something with my hand and it hurt. The knuckle on my ring finger was tender. I thought I must have jammed it, but when the pain persisted for two weeks, I had to face reality that something was going on with my joint. Not good. This on top of my knee pain made me feel really old.
My hemorrhoid returned. I have had good results with home remedies for hemorrhoids, but this time nothing worked. I relented and got an OTC preparation. It contained cocoa butter, and caused an allergic reaction. That was terrible! I went to the doctor who prescribed a cream. I don’t like being on prescription medication, but I had to have relief, and the cream worked fast.
Worst of all I started having a pain in the middle of my chest. It was similar, but not identical to the GERD pains that I had before I went on the BTD. After six years had the BTD stopped working? One day it hit so hard when I was walking that I wondered if I was having a heart attack.
I started thinking, and trying to figure out what was going on. The cold sore was definitely stress related. I’ve been under plenty of stress since Thanksgiving, no doubt about that. I wrote a blog in 2006 about the “Life Change Events Study” that calculated how changes in life – whether good or bad – predisposed someone to illness. When I wrote the blog, my score was 190. I calculated my total again. Now it is 400. (Here is a link to the point list http://www.dadamo.com/B2blogs/blogs/blog1.php/earlier-blogs/suddenly-sick )
I started to look at the other problems. Adelle Davis calls arthritis “a disease of adrenal exhaustion.” The stress connection to joint pain is obvious. What about the hemorrhoid? I’m not constipated, and I’m not overweight, and I’m certainly not pregnant. Those are the three main causes. I thought about the cream that the doctor prescribed – it was a steroid cream - another connection to stress and adrenal fatigue. I read the BTD Encyclopedia anti-stress protocol and began to implement it. I also added extra B Vitamins.
That left the chest pain. I have been so careful about avoids – especially wheat and dairy. I did not want to believe my stomach inflammation had returned in spite of the BTD. I didn’t want to believe I was having heart problems either. I was getting scared.
Early one afternoon I realized that I hadn’t had any chest pain all morning. I had eaten the same thing for breakfast. I had followed my usual routine of working at the house and putting in job applications. I had eaten a big lunch. My mind was racing, looking for the key. As I cleaned up, I found my supplement box on the coffee table. My husband and I had enjoyed dinner and a movie the night before. Because I had neglected to return the box to the kitchen table, I had forgotten to take supplements that morning. I popped the whole handful in my mouth and swallowed them with a gulp of water. I could feel them all go down together, small tablets, capsules, and large tablets tumbling over each other until they hit the sphincter muscle between my esophagus and my stomach. There they stuck. I swallowed more water. I ate some dried fruit. The pain in my chest started. At that moment I knew, my heart was fine and the BTD was still working.
I realized that I had started taking glucosamine (a really big tablet) for my knee. In addition I took lysine for the cold sore, B Vitamins for the joints, rutin and bioflavanoids (another big tablet) for the hemorrhoid, plus bromelain for inflammation. I was taking more supplements than usual, and larger ones at that. Now when I take my supplements, I take them early in a meal one at a time. I eat a bite between pills. They don’t get stuck. They slide through just like they are supposed to.
I’m still stressed. I can’t change the circumstances in my life, but I can respond better now that I’m aware of what the combined stresses are doing in my body. I’m thankful that my awareness of problems when they were small will keep them from becoming big issues. Most of all I’m relieved to know that it’s just stress. I’ve got work to do, but I’m not scared.
Every so often there is a news report about the dangers of taking vitamin or mineral supplements. Coming from a background in the branch of Health Foods that emphasized vitamins for both prevention and cure of diseases, these reports always make my Type O blood boil. Usually as I read the articles, I can spot the misinformation. Often it involves mega doses that are far beyond what any rational person would take. I’m always suspicious that drug companies, or others who have a vested interest in discouraging natural or preventive medicine, fund the studies.
Sometime last year, a report was released which showed that of the people involved in a particular study, those who took multiple vitamins had a higher mortality than those who did not. I bristled, knowing that some people would stop taking vitamins that their bodies needed because of the study. At the same time, I was at a loss to explain the results. Something happened last week this week that brought back a memory, and may have given me a bit of insight into what was going on behind the scene in the study.
When I was first learning about the Blood Type Diet, I was dumbfounded to read that Dr. D’Adamo considered Vitamins A and E as avoids for Type Os. I had never been a mega-vitamin person, but I had taken hefty doses of both for years. They were anti-oxidants. They were supposed to be good for all kinds of things. But Dr. D wrote,
“Since your blood type is prone to slower clotting, I would not recommend that Type Os take Vitamin A supplements without first checking with your doctor. These supplements can enhance blood thinning…Likewise, I would not recommend Vitamin E supplements for Type Os because they can complicate Type O tendencies toward slower blood clotting.”
I stopped taking extra A and E, though I did continue to take a multiple vitamin.
This week I got a flyer in the mail advertising a new multiple. As I read it, I noticed that it didn’t have any Vitamin E. I went to the pantry to look at the label on my multiple. I had assumed it was about 30 IU, at least that what I remembered from the last time I checked. It was 200 IU! Good grief, that was a lot more Vitamin E than I wanted to be taking. I looked again, and the advertised multiple had half the Vitamin A than what was in the multiple I was taking. How??? I asked myself did I not notice this? Did they change the formula and I never saw a “new and improved” sticker?
It gets worse. I have started taking CoEnzyme Q10. Dr. D recommends it for all Blood Types for cancer prevention, intracellular energy, and heart failure. I had been buying a particular brand, but as I got ready to order this week, I noticed another bottle by the same company that was less expensive. I compared the two. There was the same amount of CoEnzyme Q10 in each of them, but the more expensive one that I had been buying contained 100 IU of Vitamin E.
I began to think about multiple vitamin advertisements I’ve seen lately in magazines and on TV. They really stress antioxidants. They talk about being formulated for heart health. I guess they have all increased their Vitamin A and E, because it’s the faddish thing to do.
So here I am, fairly knowledgeable about nutrition and vitamins. I know that Vitamin E is avoid for Type O, and I stopped taking it years ago. I think I am getting a token amount in my multiple. Instead I find that I’m taking 300 IU a day and the RDA is only 22 IU. I suddenly have some insight into why the study showed that people who take multiple vitamins have a higher mortality.
That brought back a vivid Vitamin E memory. But this blog is already too long. I’ll share the memory next time.
It’s possible to get too many of the wrong vitamins, but you can never get enough of the Word of God. This from Proverbs 4: Pay attention to what I say; listen closely to my words. Do not let them out of your sight. Keep them within your heart; for they are life to those who find them and health to a man’s whole body.