Calcium, Magnesium, Silica and Boron
According to a study published in the July, 2004 issue of Archives of InternalMedicine, the number of North Americans diagnosed with osteoporosis surged sevenfold over the past decade. As of 2003, there were an estimated 3.6 million Americans who had been diagnosed with osteoporosis, compared with half a million in 1994, according to the study by Stanford University researchers. Also, the number of doctor visits for the condition jumped to 6.3 million last year from 1.3 million in 1994.
Osteoporosis is second only to cardiovascular disease as a leading health care problem, according to the World Health Organization. Worldwide, the lifetime risk for a woman to have an osteoporotic fracture is 30-40 per cent, yet in seven major countries - France, Germany, Italy, the United States, the United Kingdom, Spain and Japan – less than half of women with osteoporosis are diagnosed, according to the International Osteoporosis Foundation (IOF) In the next 50 years, the number of hip fractures for both men and women will more than double. This means the need for prevention is more urgent than ever.
This significant research clearly illustrates that the dietary recommendations by leading government and industry groups is doing nothing to prevent the growing incidence of osteoporosis. Indeed, this ‘taken for granted’ approach to preventing osteoporosis is actually contributing to the accelerating incidence of this debilitating disease. The promotion of milk (with government approval) as a good source of calcium and an important factor in maintaining strong bones is a highly deceptive marketing tactic, not based on science, which only serves to enrich the coffers of the dairy industry at the expense of the health of millions.
Dairy products offer a false sense of security to those concerned about osteoporosis. In countries where dairy products are not generally consumed, there is actually less osteoporosis than in the United States and Canada. Studies have shown little effect of dairy products on osteoporosis 1. The Harvard Nurses Study followed 78,000 women for a 12-year period and found that milk did not protect against bone fractures. Indeed, those who drank three glasses of milk per day had more fractures than those who rarely drank milk 2. Another study comparing bone loss in the lumbar spine in perimenopausal women showed that the control group who supplemented the diet with whey protein (a milk protein), significant bone loss occurred. The researchers at Iowa State University concluded that regular consumption of milk proteins such as whey could increase the lifetime risk of osteoporosis 3.
Calcium is only one of many factors that affect the bone. Other factors include hormones, phosphorus, boron, silica, exercise, smoking, alcohol and drugs. Protein is also important in calcium balance. Diets that are rich in protein, particularly animal protein such as in milk, actually encourage calcium loss 4, 5, 6.
Another common fallacy promoted by the pharmaceutical industry, and given lip service by the health food industry, is the promotion of calcium carbonate and other inorganic forms of calcium as a preventative for osteoporosis. There is absolutely no scientific evidence that taking calcium carbonate (Tums, and other OTC antacids as well as oyster shell, dolomite, coral calcium or calcium hydroxyapatite or combinations containing them, have any bearing on the incidence of osteoporosis. Again, if these popular supplements (used by millions) had any effect on osteoporosis, then a decline in osteoporosis should be evident rather than a 7-fold increase over the last 10 years.
Clearly, a more scientific approach to address this problem is required. It is obvious that current dietary recommendations are not working. From a dietary supplement perspective, we must look at all of the nutritional co-factors involved in bone density and bone mass. Besides calcium, the role of magnesium, silica and boron as well as vitamin D and K must be considered. And when we consider calcium and the other minerals we must consider the more bio-available forms such as amino acid chelates rather than the inorganic carbonates or oxides.
An effective dietary supplement to help deal with bone health must include calcium, magnesium, silica and boron in organic form as well as vitamin D and K. Of course, other lifestyle factors are also important such as regular exercise, not smoking, and reduction of animal protein. Strong bones throughout our lifetime is possible if we make the right choices early enough.
It is estimated that 68 percent of North Americans are not getting enough calcium and that 75 percent of North Americans are deficient in magnesium 1. You have also heard the old saying: "You are what you eat". A more correct version of that saying should be: "You are what you absorb". A mineral that is not absorbed cannot get into the bones to strengthen them. The amount absorbed is more important than the quantity consumed.
In the case of calcium and magnesium, there is widespread use of inorganic forms of these minerals for supplementation, such as calcium carbonate or magnesium oxide (oyster shells, dolomite, calcium hydroxyaptite or coral calcium). Yet by properly combining [chelating] calcium with an amino acid [a component of protein] to create an organic chelate, 57 percent more replacement calcium was delivered to the bones than with inorganic calcium 1. Another example is magnesium, which is absorbed 87 percent when properly chelated, but only absorbed 16 percent when taken in an inorganic non-chelated form such as magnesium oxide 1. Chelated minerals provide 3 to 10 times greater absorption than the non-chelated ones.
Chelated minerals are bound by and incorporated in the structure of an amino acid molecule. Since they are bound to an organic amino acid, they are, by definition, now organic and more easily absorbed. Chelate comes from the Latin chele, meaning “to bind” An example of a chelated mineral is found inside the haemoglobin molecule, where the mineral iron is tightly bound by the surrounding heme and globin molecules. Most chelated minerals are bound to amino acid molecules. Amino acids are the building blocks of protein and are actively absorbed from the intestinal tract when we ingest them. “Actively absorbed”, means that our gastrointestinal (GI) tract has specific receptors and carrier molecules that transport amino acids into the bloodstream. The mineral chelated to the amino acid is simultaneously absorbed into the bloodstream along with the amino acid. After entering the bloodstream, the mineral is able to break free from the amino acid carrier, and to recombine into the many forms required by our metabolism. Likewise, the carrier amino acid can now combine with other amino acids to form new proteins 2.
Note: Many manufactures simply mix protein with inorganic minerals and pass them off as chelates, or they add a small amount of chelate to the inorganic mineral to give the impression that the entire mineral is chelated. This is deceptive marketing with profit, not the health of the consumer, as the motive. Amino acid chelates are manufactured by a sophisticated process where the mineral is reacted with the amino acid to form an organic bond. For a more complete technical description of mineral chelates visit www.enerex.ca/articles
CALCIUM AND MAGNESIUM
Both calcium and magnesium are involved in numerous metabolic functions and are absolutely essential for the maintenance of a healthy body.
Calcium is considered the backbone mineral because of its role in the formation of skeleton and teeth. Magnesium is called the natural tranquilizer due to its relaxing action on nerves and muscles. Some biological functions and the therapeutic uses of these minerals are shown below:
Both minerals require each other for their absorption and utilization and must be provided in adequate amounts. Depending upon the physiological environment, there are cases in which the roles of these two minerals are antagonistic to each other. Magnesium is located inside the cell (intra-cellular) while calcium is predominantly located outside the cell (extra-cellular). Consequently, the role of magnesium in intracellular metabolic functions, such as energy production, respiration, and muscle contraction-relaxation is antagonistic to calcium.
REGULATION OF HEART BEAT
The heart is a muscle and its primary function is to pump blood throughout the body. The heart is composed of billions of cells, each of which works as an electrochemical generator, and contains both calcium and magnesium. On the outer surface of the heart cells, thin fibers made of a substance called "actin", continually expand and contract in unison with the heartbeat. The actin fibers are stimulated by calcium, and then relaxed by magnesium. An electrical charge produced by magnesium then pushes the calcium to the opposite side of the cell. Thus, calcium helps to produce the heartbeat, and magnesium regulates it.
MYOCARDICAL INFARCTION (Heart Attack)
Several researchers have shown that a heart failure involves drastic changes in the concentration of cardiac electrolytes 1. During cardiac stress, some of the magnesium is moved out of the cell accompanied by an influx of calcium into the cell. Thus, the cardiac muscle shows a 20% decrease in magnesium and a 4 1/2 fold increase in myocardial calcium 2. The loss of magnesium and an influx of calcium seriously disrupts the energy potential of the affected muscle 3. The situation can be prevented by increasing the level of magnesium. In clinical practice, intravenous or intramuscular administration of magnesium salts has proven very useful and is highly regarded 4. It is known that magnesium therapy is the most effective to protect myocardial integrity during cardiac arrest 4, 5. It is interesting to note that in Canadian surveys of post-mortem tissue composition, about 24% less magnesium was found in ischemic hearts than in non-cardiac cases 6.
ATHEROSCLEROSIS (Heart Disease)
A highly dietary intake of magnesium has been attributed to why heart disease is virtually unknown among Bantu tribesman of South Africa while the disease is prevalent among white South Africans. Clinical studies have revealed that the Bantu's serum magnesium level is about 11% higher than in the white South Africans. The Bantu's high dietary intake of magnesium is largely attributable to intake of unrefined cereals such as maize meal, which has a high magnesium content and also has a high fiber content 12. Also, it has been shown that the ability of high-fat diets to induce atherclerosis is prevented by a high magnesium dietary regime 7.
HYPERTENSION (High Blood Pressure)
For many years, hypertension has been associated with sodium. Consequently, the disorder is treated by substituting potassium in the diet. However, most of us do not realize that magnesium is also considered a well-known vasodilator. The anti-hypertensive effect of magnesium is achieved by a direct effect on the vascular wall or is mediated through the central nervous system 8. Magnesium competes with calcium for binding sites and the net result is that magnesium reduces the calcium-induced contractions. It is well established that magnesium infusions can cause vasodilation and reduce hypertension in humans 9.
UROLITHIASIS (Kidney Stones)
Canadians appear to have a very high incident of kidney stones and the occurence is particularly high in Newfoundland 11, 12. In U.S., South Carolina has the highest urolithiasis rate. South Carolina also has the highest U.S. rate for cardivascular deaths 10. Both Newfoundland and South Carolina regions have "very soft" drinking waters with little magnesium 11.
In Canada, calcium urolithiasis accounts for 70 to 80% of the total kidney-stone problems 12. In the U.S., about 67% of all kidney stones are composed of calcium oxalate or calcium hydroxyapatite 11.
Several researchers have used the magnesium/calcium ratio as an index of susceptibility of urine to form kidney-stones in patients 10, 13, 14. In general, patients with a urinary magnesium/calcium ratio of 0.7 is normal, whereas a value lower than 0.7 may be considered as stone-forming. The ratio is especially low in the Canadian "Kidney Stone Patients", indicating inadequate magnesium intake.
Oral magnesium supplementation has proven effective in the prevention of kidney-stone formation 14.
INFANT DEATH SYNDROME (Sids of Crib Death)
Magnesium deficiency has a primary role in sudden unexpected infant-death syndrome. The sequence-of-events are as follows:
Magnesium deficiency causes calcium-dependant release of histamine which, in turn, induces increased release of acetylcholine (especially at high calcium/magnesium ratio). The increased amount of acetylcholine leads to symptoms of neuromuscular hyperirritability and convulsions that can lead to reduced heart rate 15.
The sudden-death syndrome is puzzling since no recognizable allergens are involved. The symptoms are acute respiratory distress and includes bronchospasm, shortness of breath, and eventual circulatory collapse. Hypomagnesemia is observed throughout this syndrome. Therefore, the role of magnesium in the infant-death syndrome is very significant.
NUTRITIONAL STATUS OF MAGNESIUM
The recommended dietary allowance for magnesium is 300 to 450 mg/day. There are several factors including pregnancy, rapid growth, or a high intake of protein, vitamin D, calcium, fat, carbohydrates or alcohol, that will increase the requirement for magnesium.
Surveys of dietary magnesium intake from different countries show a prevalence of lower magnesium intake than the desired levels. In Newfoundland, the intake is only 50% of the recommended amount 16, 17. Other reports 40 show that hospital and institutional diets contain only 61 and 68% of the recommended intake, respectively. In other studies 18, 19, it was found that the intake for pregnant women was only 45 to 60% of the recommended allowances. There is definite evidence that magnesium intake is suboptimal or marginally inadequate in regions of the Western World 20. The occurrence of hypomagnesemia in humans, due to low magnesium intake and due in part to factors such as, prolonged use of diuretics, alcoholism, pregnancy etc., have been shown to be more prevalent that generally believed 21.
CONTRIBUTION OF DRINKING WATER
Drinking water can significantly contribute to magnesium intake and hard waters can supply 9 to 29% of the daily magnesium intake 23. Because of the metabolic antagonism between magnesium and calcium, the ratio between these two minerals in the drinking water is of considerable significance. In a survey of 25 U.S. cities, the lowest death rates from coronary disease were found in areas where the drinking waters supplied more magnesium and less calcium than the U.S. average 24.
Australia has the highest cardiovascular death rate in the world and also consumes some of the worlds softest drinking waters 60. On the other hand, the Western region of Texas has the hardest drinking waters and the lowest cardiovascular mortality rates in the United States 25.
The relationship between death rates from coronary heart disease and the dietary calcium/magnesium ratio in several countries is shown in the following figure:
Relationship between death rates from coronary heart disease and the average dietary calcium/magnesium ratio in several countries 26.
The high mortality rate in Finland is associated with a high calcium/magnesium ratio 26, while the low mortality rate in Japan is related to a low calcium/magnesium ratio as well as to the "protective" effect conferred by the alkalinity (carbonate-biocarbonate content) of water.
CALCIUM TO MAGNESIUM RATIO
From the information presented here it is apparent that the ratio between calcium to magnesium is very important in dealing with the causes and prevention of a number of disorders including myocardial infraction or arrhythmia, atherosclerosis, hypertension, urolithiasis, and infant-death syndrome. In all cases, a lower calcium/magnesium ratio or a higher magnesium/calcium ratio is desirable. This need is further underscored by the fact that magnesium intake is generally suboptimal and that hypomagnesmia is more prevalent than generally believed.
The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for calcium is 800-1200 mg/day, whereas for magnesium it is 400-450 mg/day. Only about one-third of magnesium is absorbed from dietary sources. Therefore, many researchers recommend an intake of 1200 mg/day 22. The traditional ratio of approximately 2 parts calcium to 1 part magnesium needs to be upgraded to increase magnesium intake in view of the overwhelming beneficial role of magnesium. The ideal ratio for most people's needs is an equal ratio of calcium and magnesium.
The absorption and metabolism of calcium and magnesium is one of mutual dependence, and therefore, the balance between these two minerals is especially important. If calcium consumption is high, magnesium intake needs to be high also. The trace mineral Boron (B) also plays a part in preventing urinary loss of calcium and magnesium and Silicon (Si) aids in calcium absorption.
CALCIUM AND MAGNESIUM SUPPLEMENTATION
A common misunderstanding amongst both healthcare professionals and the general public is that the daily requirement of calcium should be taken in supplemental form. In other words, many doctors suggest taking 1200mg a day of calcium from a supplement such as calcium carbonate. There is a great deal of risk in this approach, as it does not take into account the average daily intake of calcium from the diet. A supplement is just that, a supplement, to the average dietary intake of calcium - to bring the total intake of calcium to the optimum. Osteo-Rx suggests taking three tablets daily to bring the TOTAL dietary intake of calcium and magnesium to the ideal. The majority of North Americans ingest more than enough calcium from the diet, but the intake of magnesium and silicon is often inadequate. The most common problem is lack of calcium absorption, not the amount of calcium ingested. Calcium absorption depends on many factors including the type of calcium used e.g. carbonate, citrate or chelate, the amount of protein in the diet and co-factors such as magnesium, boron, silica and vitamin D. The danger of too much calcium in the diet can lead to plaque on the arteries and kidney and gallstones. It is probably just as well that the excess calcium ingested in supplement form is usually the poorly absorbed calcium carbonate, which acts mainly as an antacid but provides little if any calcium to the bones.
Vitamin D is necessary to enhance calcium absorption. Vitamin D works with the parathyroid hormone "PTH" to regulate the amount of calcium in the blood. It also stimulates the production of a calcium binding protein (CABP) in the intestinal wall, which helps absorption.
Functions of Vitamin D
Osteo-Rx is formulated with a greenfood base of alfalfa, spirulina and barley grass juice powder to provide important trace minerals, vitamins and enzymes. Alfalfa in particular supplies a rich natural source of vitamin K.
Vitamin K also, called Menadione, is a very important fat-soluble vitamin that plays a key role in the regulation of normal blood clotting functions. We get vitamin K from several sources in our diet including dark leafy vegetables. Numerous studies indicate that vitamin K plays a role in bone formation and preventing osteoporosis. Vitamin K also assists in converting glucose into glycogen for storage in the liver.
A recent study conducted by a consortium of scientists, including the Harvard Medical School Division on Ageing, has found that Silica intake is a major dietary determinant of bone mineral density in humans. Optimal bone health depends upon silicon as well as calcium. The best-documented function of silicon is that it facilitates bone calcification and bone mineralization. This feature is an important benefit to those with ageing bones 1.
Silica is an essential trace mineral that plays a biological role in the processes by which bone, cartilage, connective tissue and skin are formed and is a component of collagen.
Both silica and zinc are important for the repair of tissues. Silica is also important in helping calcium to be absorbed. Ensuring that these minerals are in your diet is a way to potentially decrease the time it takes to heal from a fracture
Silica is an element required for the proper functioning of the enzyme prolyhydroxylase. This enzyme functions in the formation of collagen in bone, cartilage, and connective tissue. Silica is also a natural diuretic.*
Research shows that skeletal diseases such as osteomalacia (bad bones), osteoporosis (porous bones and/or spontaneous fractures, as well as shrinkage) although caused by a calcium deficiency, do not respond to calcium therapy alone. Research conducted in Paris, France by noted biophysicist Louis Kervan, and in the United States by Dr. Richard Barmakian shows that fractured bones did not heal at all when high amounts of calcium were present. They heal fair to poorly when moderate amounts of calcium were present. But they heal extremely well when relatively low amounts of calcium were present with an abundance of silica.
Silica is a vital mineral that is almost completely overlooked by mainstream nutritionists. We are born with an abundance of silica and relatively low amounts of calcium. Then with every advancement in chronological age, the amount of calcium increases and the amount of silica decreases within the body. This is exactly what happens in the ageing process. As our silica supply diminishes, the soft tissues become stiff and lose elasticity. They become over calcified!
Additionally, there is a relationship between silica and the rate of aluminum concentration in the brain of Alzheimer’s patients. Many research projects point to the fact that a deficiency of silica in the diet is the causal effect of the increased absorption of aluminum into the body and its ultimate accumulation into the synapses of the brain.
Studies at UCLA and other research institutions have proven that silicon is an essential element required for the normal growth, development and integrity of hair, skin, nails, arteries, bones, cartilage and connective tissue. Optimal bone health depends upon silicon as well as calcium.
Recent studies examining Silica's role in human health have revealed that Silica performs multiple roles in the body. In fact some studies suggest that insufficient levels of Silica may play a role in several common ailments:
Hair, Skin and Nails - A recent research study, conducted in Finland, demonstrated that silica supplementation could significantly improve the quality and appearance of hair, skin and nails. In this 90 day study, half of the subjects with thin or brittle hair reported a complete improvement in their condition, half of those with brittle nails reported a significant improvement, and a majority of the subjects with aged skin showed an increase in dermal thickness and appearance.
Osteoporosis - Silicon deficiency in animals leads to bone defects. A recent study conducted by a consortium of scientists, including the Harvard Medical School Division on Aging, has found that Silica intake is a major dietary determinant of bone mineral density in humans.
Alzheimer's - Some evidence suggests that aluminum may increase the risk of developing Alzheimer's. Silica has been found to significantly reduce the absorption of aluminum by the body, and researchers hypothesize that dietary Silica may therefore reduce the risk of developing aluminum induced Alzheimer's.
Atherosclerosis - Animal studies indicate that Silica reduces the formation of atherosclerotic plaques. There is a low incidence of atherosclerosis in less developed countries where foods are not heavily processed before consumption. However, in Western diets the foods are more heavily processed, which removes much of the Silica - and atherosclerosis is much higher. This fact has led some researchers to hypothesize that the lower incidence of atherosclerosis in less developed countries may be attributed to the higher levels of Silica in their diet.
With age, the levels of Silica decline in the body. In our youth, our tissues absorb and maintain high levels of silica and simultaneously our bodies remain flexible, resilient, and energetic with soft supple skin. When we age, our Silica levels decrease and we begin to exhibit other signs of ageing such as dry skin, lack of energy and slower healing. It is believed that Silica supplementation may be a part of this solution to ageing. Maintaining a regular supply of Silica to our bodies as we age should help us to maintain a more youthful state and to live our lives in minimal pain.
Silica may also be important in bone calcification since large concentrations of silica have been found in growing bone.* Silica is also found in high concentration in the skin and hair, further implicating it its role in promoting structural health.*
Studies have shown that minerals play many roles in the metabolic activities that strengthen bone, cartilage, and other connective tissues.* Unfortunately, many of the foods we eat have lost their nutritional value due to soil nutrient depletion, food processing and cooking. Silica aids in replenishing missing minerals to help boost the body processes needed for promoting structural health.*
Silica works in synergy with boron, calcium, magnesium, potassium, and ascorbic acid, and supports bones, arteries, connective tissue, healthy hair, skin, and nails. Bone cannot re-mineralize and repair itself if enough Silica is not present.
The mineral boron may retard bone loss 1. Since osteoporosis is occuring in larger numbers of the population, this is important news. Bones have osteoclasts that break down old or damaged bone cells, while the osteoblasts work to replace the lost bone. Osteoporosis occurs when the osteoblasts cannot replace lost bone tissue as fast as the osteoclasts break it down. Osteoclasts deplete bone at a faster rate after menopause, leaving women at a greater risk of bone degradation. Boron appears to have a moderating effect on this process.
The following data indicates that boron is essential for magnesium and calcium metabolism
The effect of boron supplementation on its urinary excretion and selected cardiovascular risk factors in healthy male subjects.
The following study shows that boron supplementation increases estradiol and testosterone suggesting that boron might be deficient in hyperthyroidism. Additionally boron was shown to decrease plasma concentrations of calcium. High calcium levels may be associated with increased heart rate. Since calcium and magnesium act as antagonists, this reduction of calcium by boron may allow magnesium levels to rise and thereby lower the heart rate and muscle cramps.
Additionally boron was shown to increase plasma copper, copper-zinc super oxide dismutase (SOD is one of the body's most important free radical scavengers), and ceruloplasmin (a protein which transports copper). Here is direct evidence that boron is essential for copper metabolism and therefore quite probably for the correction of hyperthyroidism and possibly hypothyroidism.
Furthermore, the study offers a possible explanation for why estrogen may slow thyroid function: it increases plasma copper, SOD, and ceruloplasmin. Boron also increased these variables whether estrogen was administered or not.
Biochemical and physiologic consequences of boron deprivation in humans.
Following is the original USDA study that showed that boron supplementation increases estrogen and testosterone in postmenopausal women. The study also showed that boron "markedly reduced the urinary excretion of calcium and magnesium," interacts with magnesium metabolism, and the boron effects were not negated by a high intake of aluminum (1000 mg per da y). It seems as though boron conserves magnesium and calcium, prevents the bone demineralization, and protects against osteoporosis.
Effect of dietary boron on mineral, estrogen, and testosterone metabolism in postmenopausal women.
Additional studies on boron
Interest in boron as a naturally occurring trace element nutrient from the food supply is increasing. Mounting evidence suggests that boron is essential to human beings. This study explores the major food and beverage contributors of boron and estimates of daily boron intake from the American diet. Previous estimates in the literature of dietary boron consumption are based on limited foods and population segments. In this study we provide a more comprehensive assessment of boron consumption by the US population. A boron nutrient database of 1,944 individual foods was developed. These foods represent 95.3% by weight of all foods consumed in the US Department of Agriculture 1989-1991 Continuing Survey of Food Intakes by Individuals (1989-1991 CSFII). The Boron Nutrient Database (version 1.0) was then linked to the 3-day food records of 11,009 respondents to the 1989-1991 CSFII to generate the average daily boron intake for each person. The weighted 5th percentile, median, mean, and 95th percentile boron intakes, respectively, are 0.43, 1.02, 1.17 and 2.42 mg/day for men; 0.33, 0.83, 0.96 and 1.94 mg/day for women; and 0.40, 0.86, 1.01 and 2.18 mg/day for pregnant women. For vegetarian adults, these intakes are 0.46, 1.30, 1.47 and 2.74 mg/day for men and 0.33, 1.00, 1.29 and 4.18 mg/day for women. The top 2 boron contributors, coffee and milk, are low in boron, yet they make up 12% of the total boron intake by virtue of the volume consumed. Among the top 50 boron contributors, peanut butter, wine, raisins, peanuts, and other nuts are high in boron. As more data become available on daily boron requirements, the results of this study may be used to assess whether Americans' daily intake of boron is adequate.
The justification for providing dietary guidance for the nutritional intake of boron.
BORON: 19 Citations
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