I hope spring comes to stay soon.
like enjoying a couple of 70 something degree days and then
walking outside dressed for 70 something and it’s 40
something. Great way to catch a cold and unfortunately,
I’m not a big on listening to the weather. Last month
I told you about my own Oöna experience and I must tell
you that the outcome wasn’t all that eventful. My
daughter weaned herself from the breast – and I mean not
interested, I started PMS1 and I’m pretty much
back to pre-pregnancy cycles -- dark chocolate cravings and
all. The only issue remaining is the Kegals; i.e.
doing them regularly to tone those pelvic muscles. I do them,
but not for very long – maybe just a couple of minutes. I
think it’s working… does any one really do
them for long? Without someone with cut arm muscles
and a salon tan yelling “you got this” or “five
more”, it gets boring fast. Maybe I’ll
pull out the old Jane Fonda tape and pretend that she’s
talking about Kegals instead of leg lifts!
So after I remind you about a yearly
going to focus on calcium. There is so much to talk
about that I found the need break it down into two parts: this
month I’ll cover some basics about bone health, nutrition
and absorption. Next month I’ll tackle the supplements.
ONE OF THOSE HEADLINES
I think I
had this clip on my desk for six months; it’s a Wall
Street Journal headline that said that only 6% of women where
scrupulous in getting a yearly mammogram. It raised more
questions for me than answers.
First, according to the National
Breast Cancer organization -- 70% of all breast cancers
are found through self exam. That
leads me to believe that 30% at most (likely less as a small
percentage must be found other ways, like in an MD’s
office) are found through mammograms. Okay.
Second, a mammogram can detect breast
cancer up to 2 years before it can be felt. So, if a mammogram can detect
a cancer that can not be felt, shouldn’t a greater
percentage than 30 be found by mammograms?
Back to the Wall St. Journal headline – if only 6%
of women are getting regular mammograms it could make sense
that 70% of breast cancers are found through self exam. Stay
with me here – it turns out that this 6% number does
not accurately describe the state of women and mammography’s. As
you will see by the USA Today article referenced, the more
accurate statement is that over the past 10 years, only 6%
of women have gotten yearly mammograms on time every
year. The truth is that many of us are getting them
around that date but may miss it by a month or so mostly
because no one sends us those reminders. In any one
year, 55% of women 40 and over have gotten a mammography
and 70% of women have been screened within the past two years.
Then, in my mind, if 70% of us are
getting mammograms within the two years that a mammography
can detect it, this 30% detection rate is very low. I’m not a statistician,
maybe 30% isn’t low, but it certainly seems low.
Turns out, it has a lot to do with
the person who is reading the mammogram. Further, if your breasts are fibrous
or cystic, it’s even more difficult to read. Not
too reassuring I know – and how can you be confident
that the radiologist is a good reader?
Here’s my 2 cents. Ask how many people take
a look at the film. Where I go, it’s two. The more
eyes the better. If it’s only one, it may not
be a bad idea to have your GYN take a look at the mammogram
as well. Ask how the radiologist evaluates the film. It’s
very important that the physician compare this years mammogram
to last years in order to look for any changes. Don’t
lead them to the correct answer. If they don’t
compare this year to last year, find someone else. And perhaps
when the MD is meeting with you, you can ask them to put
the film up and look at it with you. (along with the prior
year) Question everything you see – at worst you’ll
get an education. Do they look at it with a magnifying
glass? Would that help? I really don’t
know – but I would think it would. Also, if you
have really cystic breasts, they should also be doing a breast
sonicgram as wll.
Where I live, it’s a minimum three month wait for
an appointment – so these radiologists are booked beyond
belief. I’d like to believe that they schedule
appointments in a way that lends the practice to accuracy
of those in the waiting room. I’m not sure. It
never hurts to remind them in a kind and understanding way
that you are putting tremendous trust in their judgement. When
they walk in and say “Everything is fine,” I
do not feel it’s out of line to say “Good, please
explain to me what that means exactly.”
Remember, no one takes care of you
like you and while more women die of lung cancer, breast
cancer and skin cancer are the most common. And while
we obviously must trust the professionals we sign up with,
this is one area that deserves some extra alertness on
Oh by the way, what some women do to remind themselves about
getting a yearly mammogram is to associate it with a birthday
or yearly event like the start of the school season.
a simple element, what a complicated story! Here we
The human skeleton has 206 bones. (who knew?) Basically speaking,
bones are made up of two types of material that are known
as “organic” and “inorganic”. The
organic material is primarily collagen (90%) and other
proteins (10%) that keep bones flexible. The inorganic
material consists of calcium, phosphorus, sodium and other
minerals that keep bones strong and resistant to damage. There
is also the soft bone marrow inside where most of the blood
cells that flow through our body are made. We know
them as “stem cells”.
Calcium is the most abundant mineral in the human body
-- our teeth and bones account for 99% of the body's calcium.
The remaining 1% of calcium is found in our body fluids and
blood. There are five other macrominerals in the body --
they are magnesium, sodium, chloride, potassium, and sulfur.
All six macrominerals account for 4 - 5 % of total body weight
-- ½ of which comes from calcium.
Bone production is a dynamic system; our bones are constantly
being broken down and built up in a process called remodeling. Calcium
plays a critical role in this process. Further, our
bones act like a reservoir for calcium as it is continually
taken from the bones and used for other functions in the
body such as regulating heart beat, clotting the blood, regulating
thyroid function, hormone secretion and nerve function.
If not enough calcium is being absorbed or is being used
for these other functions, our bones become deficient.
When you hear or read “daily recommended requirement”,
the government is referring to “elemental” calcium. When
you buy a supplement, the amount of “elemental” calcium
should be listed on the package as it is the law. It
is NOT the calcium source. As an example, if a capsule
contains 1000 mg. of Calcium Citrate, the amount of “elemental” calcium
is only 200mg. You are correct in assuming that you
need to take 5000 mg. of Calcium Citrate in order to get
1000 mg. of “daily required” elemental calcium
available to you. Referring to the two most popular
forms of calcium supplements -- calcium carbonate and calcium
citrate, calcium carbonate contains 40% of elemental calcium
while calcium citrate contains 20% of elemental calcium. That
does not mean you should necessarily run out and just buy
calcium carbonate. I’ll get to that. (next month)
Children 4-8 need 800 mg. per day. (elemental calcium) Ages
9-18 it jumps to 1300 mg. a day. Men and women from 19-50
need about 1,000 mg. of calcium daily and 1,200 mg. after
the age of 50.
Absorption and Age
Calcium absorption is highest during infancy when it is about
60%. In young children, it is about 28%. During early puberty
and the time of rapid growth, it increases to about 34% and
then drops to 25% two years later where it remains for several
years. Calcium absorption does decline with aging. In postmenopausal
women and in men around the same age it declines 0.21% yearly
on average. Calcium absorption may be critically impaired
after the age of 70.
I think it is safe to assume that the daily recommended dose
that is suggested by the government has taken age into consideration. It
doesn’t seem we need to adjust for this.
Absorption and Nutrition
The best analogy I came across is to think of bone health/calcium
absorption as if you were building a house. In order
for the house to become inhabitable, you need all the parts
to the house. It doesn’t help you much if you
just keep buying more wood, even if your house is 80% wood. For
calcium absorption and bone health, it’s similar. Just
adding more elemental calcium is not the way to go. Calcium
needs other nutrients to support bone health and production – specifically
Vitamins D, B6, B12, C and K. It also needs magnesium,
zinc, boron, folic acid, essential fatty acids and protein.
It appears that vitamin D and magnesium have the most direct
affect on how much calcium is stored in the bones.
Calcium is 8.79 times more bioavailable from food than it
is from any supplement. Considering that supplements
can be complicated to absorb, this is an important point
to keep in mind. There are health writers that love
or hate dairy, yet all agree that the best place to get your
calcium is from food. Like it or not, diary contains
the highest amounts calcium. Luckily, it’s the
low fat/skim kind topping the list. The highest calcium
food I saw was low fat yogurt, 8 oz. at 415 mg. of calcium. This
is followed by skim milk with 306 mg. of calcium. For
comparison, whole milk yogurt has 275 mg. of calcium.
For those of you who are lactose intolerant, don’t
worry. Other calcium rich foods are dark leafy greens like
spinach, kale, mustard greens all around 200-300mg. per cup,
many seeds and nuts (about 100 mg per ¼ cup), legumes
like black eye peas (around 200 per cup) In my opinion, the
best non-dairy food to eat is soy beans. Not only are
they high in calcium (260 mg. per cup) but they also contains
other compounds such as isoflavones and genistein that are
both protective and bone building. The best protein
sources are sardines (yuk) and salmon (yum). But back
to my house analogy, the more healthy food you consume, especially
fruits and vegetables, the better off you are. It’s
not just the calcium. As an example, studies have found
that bones may benefit more from vitamin D than calcium as
vitamin D is vital to transfer calcium to the bones. So if
I were to walk you through the array of foods that not only
contain calcium but other important vitamins and minerals
that play a role in creating strong healthy dynamic bones,
you would see just about every fruit, vegetables, nut, beans,
good protein, etc. The one food you won’t see
are foods that are high in phytates – like wheat bran.
Of course nothing is easy -- as legumes are high in phytates
but are also high in magnesium and contain some calcium which
is good for our bones. Personally, I wouldn’t
get too hung up on it. Just eat well.
Other Lifestyle Issues
Calcium absorption is another reason to avoid white sugar,
colas, alcohol and caffein in excess and too much animal
protein. Protein is essential for bone health but in
excess can suck calcium out of our bones. Bone health
is another reason to exercise. Weight baring exercise
is vital – when muscles work harder bones become stronger. Finally
reduction of stress and good rest plays an important role – stress
produces cortisol which decreases calcium absorption.
If you are like me and work out and try to eat healthy, we
still may not be getting enough calcium. I don’t
think that I get enough. So in the next newsletter,
I’ll tackle supplements and try to cut through some
of the popular beliefs that may or may not be the best approach.
Kris Wetherbee, “Build Your Best Bones” Herbs
for Health, February 2006 page 51
Janer Gulland, “Clearing up Confusion about Calcium” Holistic
Primary Care Summer 2005, page 1
That's it for this month! As always,
check out our website for lots more information at www.oonahealth.com.
The Oöna Team
Questions or comments? Write firstname.lastname@example.org