s4 e2: calcium deep dive

Calcium Deep Dive

In this episode, we are doing a mineral deep dive on calcium, a mineral that is mostly known for its impact on bone health, but has a huge impact on our thyroid, ability to balance our blood sugar, and how our nervous system functions as well. As always with these mineral deep dives, I will cover what calcium does in the body and what happens when we have high or low levels. I will also be covering lab testing for calcium via blood and hair mineral testing along with providing sample days of how to get enough calcium from food for my patreon members. You can join to get access to all bonus podcasts and resources at patreon.com/hormonehealingrd.

Quick reminder, this podcast is for informational purposes only. Please talk with your healthcare provider before making any nutrition or lifestyle changes.

Master Your Minerals Course

Free Resources:
Mineral Imbalance Quiz
Mineral Training
Thyroid Training
Feminine Periodical (monthly newsletter)

Episodes mentioned:
Iodine episode
Boron episode
Copper episode

Calcium regulation

Vitamin D causing calcification (both high and low):

Pregnancy and lactation

Bone health:

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Welcome to Are You Menstrual podcast where we dive deep into all things women’s health to support you on your healing journey. I’m Amanda Montalvo functional and integrative dietitian also known as the hormone healing rd. If you enjoy this podcast and you want to keep learning, check out the podcast Patreon where I share a bonus episode with additional downloadable resources each week, you can go to patreon.com forward slash hormone healing rd, or check out the link in the show notes.

Welcome to episode two of season four of the arguments row podcast in this episode, I am digging into calcium, we are doing a very deep dive. I feel like calcium is mostly known for bone health when I did question box on my Instagram stories about like what questions you guys have about calcium, it was almost all bone health related, I was like, wow, it does a lot of other things in the body. So we’re gonna get into bone health. But we’re also going to talk about how it affects our thyroid mineral balance in general, how it impacts our ability to balance our blood sugar, and even our nervous system. And as always, with these deep dives I’m going to go through like what it does in the body, what happens we have higher the levels, all that kind of stuff. I’m also going to go into a lot more in the bonus episode for my Patreon Members, we’re going to dig into calcium testing, I’m going to go through some examples of a calcium shell on a hair mineral test, and then what you can consider if that is the case for you and your hair test, what causes it, how to break it down. And I’m also sharing some especially helpful resources for Patreon members where I have examples of like how to get enough calcium from food, both dairy and non dairy sources, and more. So if you want access to those resources, you can go to patreon.com forward slash hormone healing rd, and become a patron. Quick reminder before I get started. This episode is for informational purposes only. I’m a dietitian, but I’m not your dietitian. So please, if you want to make any nutrition or lifestyle changes based off the information I’m sharing, always bring them to your health care provider. It’s just so important to have your you know health history and everything taken into context before you just jump in and start, you know, taking supplements, changing your diet, all that kind of stuff. So let’s get right into the different roles of calcium, it does a lot of different things in the body. Most of you know it’s important for our bone health and the health of our teeth. It’s also really important for our heart health, calcium ions actually enter the heart muscle, and during each heartbeat, they have a significant role in contributing to the electrical signal. So they’re really important for the electrical activity for pumping the pumping function of the heart. This is why when you have a deficiency of calcium, you can have hypertension like high blood pressure. I also see with excess calcium, especially on hair test, usually people will have some heart palpitations, or a higher heart rate. So very involved in heart health. We can also you know if we get calcification, outside like outside of the bones and teeth in our tissues, that can also greatly impact our overall health and especially heart health. It increases the risk of heart attack, stroke, blood clots, all that stuff. So we definitely want enough calcium and we want it to be in the right places. It’s really important for our nervous system, calcium ions actually helped transmit signals between cells. And they’re really important for neurotransmitter release. I’m going to dig into this a little bit more during the bonus episode for Patreon, but it’s pretty interesting how much calcium was involved in the nervous system and like healing injuries in the nervous system too. It’s just interesting, because I often will see like calcium shells on people with a lot of like nervous system dysregulation. And it’s like, it all makes sense your body’s trying to protect you. So nervous system heart health, it’s important for muscle growth, function and contraction, very common symptom of calcium deficiency is more having more muscle cramping than normal. I also tend to see like restless legs if someone has really high calcium on their hair test. So anything like that, like a lot of people go straight for magnesium and potassium. And yes, it can, but I do see calcium impact that a lot as well. It’s important for cell division, blood clotting and maintaining pH balance in the body, it helps to neutralize so if we have some harmful acidic compounds in the body before they can cause any damage will actually release calcium from the bones and teeth in order to neutralize that acid. So obviously, it’s not great because it’s compromising here bones and teeth, but it does help protect our bodies from a lot of harmful acidic compounds. And then finally it can reduce lactic acid. So that those are all the main things that calcium is doing in the body. It’s also really important for blood sugar. We’re going to have a whole section on blood sugar and thyroid, but first I just want to get into how calcium is regulated. And I have an image for this and I’m going to share my screen because I feel like I had so many questions on calcium supplements and everything. And I’m like, I think if we can break down and go through, once this pops up, there we go. If we can break down and go through how calcium is regulated in the body, you don’t need me to tell you why calcium supplements aren’t good, I’m still going to, but I think it’s important to understand this. And I’ve got this image from Oregon State that I think is really helpful. I mean, there’s this complex, but for I’m such a visual person, that I feel like having the two different, you know, the, if we have low blood calcium, or if we’re trying to raise our blood calcium, like what happens in the body, it can be nice to have this visual. So just like I talked about, on the first episode, we dug into mineral testing. And when I talked about bloodwork, I talked about how our blood levels are maintained very tightly, you know, our bodies really trying to keep the different levels of minerals within a certain range, calcium included. So when calcium is higher low, we have different mechanisms in place that will kick in, in order to get it back to that optimal or normal range. And our body does this by using parathyroid hormone using kalsa trial, which is the active form of vitamin D. Or if like, if you’re looking at it on the lab, like if you got bloodwork done, it would be 125 o h, and then calcitonin. And that is a peptide hormone that’s released by our thyroid. So when levels are low, and we’re trying to raise blood calcium, that’s on the right side here. This is when three main things happen. Our low levels of calcium stimulate the body to release parathyroid hormone that then leads to bone breakdown, and our kidneys, taking vitamin D and converting it to the active form. So we take that vitamin D, it’s now kalsa trial, or the 125 O H, and that does two main things. It increases how much calcium you absorb in our gut. So we’re gonna get even more from the foods that we’re eating or supplements that we’re taking. And then it’s going to decrease how much calcium we’re getting rid of in our urine. Remember, I in that first episode, I said, this is why blood levels are not the most accurate picture of mineral imbalances, because these are all the ways that our body will compensate, in order to keep that blood level optimal. So your parathyroid is activated those glands, you release that hormone, we break down bones to get calcium from the bones, we absorb more in our small intestine, and then we excrete less in our urine so that we can retain more, what happens is then ideally, our calcium levels go back to normal in the blood. And they’re optimal. And now either they’re optimal. Or if we ever had a high calcium in the blood, what would happen is all those processes are then on done. So we have that parathyroid hormone excretion stops, and our thyroid gland releases a peptide hormone called calcitonin. And that calcitonin inhibits parathyroid hormone, and it reduces bone breakdown. So we stopped getting calcium from the bones and t. So that’s one way we’re, you know, shutting it off getting less calcium, it also inhibits calcium absorption in the intestines, or it kind of brings it back down, you’re still gonna absorb calcium, but just not it’s not like an extra amount. So we’re getting we’re not getting from bones and teeth, we’re not getting access from our gut, we’re just getting the normal amount. And then we increase how much we’re excreting in our urine. So whether levels become normal or high, basically, all those processes are undone. And this is really what it looks like. It’s those three main steps, we’re getting a kidney, small intestine bone from both sides. The main hormone is parathyroid hormone, if it’s too low, if it’s too high, calcitonin is the main hormone. So thyroid glands involved parathyroid all very important for regulating calcium levels. That’s really how our body does it. This is why, you know, if we have a low level, typically you’re not going to see it in the blood, you could see it on a hair test sooner than you’d see in the blood. We could also see a very high level on a hair test before you might see it in the blood because all those things are happening behind the scenes. But it doesn’t mean you couldn’t have symptoms of higher low calcium. I feel like that’s the most common thing. And then when you actually test someone’s hair, you’re like, okay, like that’s there is an imbalance here. It’s just that our body is so smart, and it’s gonna regulate that amount that in the blood that we’re not seeing it. And if we think about how important calcium is for bone health, I cannot believe how many people asked about this online, I guess I just didn’t know it was like such a main concern for a lot of people. But so many of you were like, you know, I’ve just been told to take calcium and that will fix any issues. But I just know it has to be more than that. And I’m like so Crowd I’m like, Yes, it is more than that. And you’re very smart for having that intuition and like following it, yes, we need calcium for bone formation. But we also need so many other things like magnesium is huge, and you’re gonna hear me talk about magnesium a lot. I have a deep dive episode next week on magnesium. But calcium magnesium have such a huge relationship, both like they work together, they can enhance each other, and then they can antagonize each other. So it’s like, we need to have them in balance. And when one is an excess or one is deficient, it will definitely throw off the other one. So when it comes to bone health, magnesium is actually really, really important. Yes, calcium matters, we need enough calcium. But if we don’t have enough magnesium, then that can also cause issues because we need magnesium. For bone formation, it helps make new bone tissue it also helps break down bone. And it’s really important for Therap, parathyroid hormone regulation, remember, I just went through what happens if we have low calcium, we release parathyroid hormone. And if we have low magnesium, we can actually release too much parathyroid hormone, and that breaks down too much bone, because it’s trying to get too much calcium into the blood. So it’s important for that it’s also really important for vitamin D, I did an episode on like five different supplements, you might want to reconsider. And vitamin D is one of them. Because most people that have vitamin D issues are very deficient in magnesium, and likely other minerals as well, that can impact vitamin D and vitamins like vitamin A, but we need vitamin D, and we need to convert it in the kidneys. Remember, we convert it to the active vitamin D, we need magnesium to do that. So that process could also not carry out correctly. And then that will definitely impact calcium levels. And all those things are important for bone health. So every single step involves magnesium. We also have we store magnesium in our bones. So we need it for many, many things. And there are some studies, I linked all these in the show notes. But there’s a couple in one of them’s it’s very short, and it’s very small. But I mean, it’s significant, because the biggest population that I get asked me about this is postmenopausal women, and they’re worried about their bone health, because they don’t have they’re not making estrogen anymore, or at least like a very tiny amount. And estrogen is important for bone health. But the big concern is around like I was told I need to take this calcium supplement. But then they also have heart health concerns, because that is often a big concern. Once you’re postmenopausal hormone shift, and then they’re taking calcium supplements, which can lead to calcification, which puts you at higher risk for heart attack and stroke. So it’s like, where’s the balance for these women? You know, and I think a lot of it can come in looking at their mineral status and paying attention to like, is your calcium high and a hair test? Or is it deficient? What’s your magnesium like? And there was a study done, it was only 30 days, it was only on 20 postmenopausal women, but it was it had very significant results. And there needs to be more done because of it. But they saw 20 postmenopausal women saw that 30 days of taking magnesium citrate, so not even the best form of magnesium. We’ll go through those in the next episode. They were taking 290 milligrams per day, which is not even the RDA for magnesium. And they saw that suppressed bone turnover and led to reduced bone loss. So even in a population that already has bone loss, taking a very small amount of a not so great version of magnesium still helped their bone loss. And then if we think of magnesium, we can’t not mention boron, especially for also talking about the parathyroid glands in that parathyroid hormone. I did a whole episode on boron last season that I’m going to link in the show notes. But a boron deficiency has also been shown to cause our parathyroid glands to become overactive, and release too much parathyroid hormone, which then causes that release of calcium from the bones and teeth and leads to high blood levels. Enhancing things like osteoporosis, tooth decay, and arthritis and then heart health issues. So again, like if we’re going to look at bone health and try to optimize it, I think we have to address calcium, magnesium, boron, those are the big ones. And then especially if I’m thinking of the postmenopausal population, I’m mostly them. I think this applies to everyone but definitely specifically for this population. Because those are most of the women that are coming to me concern about bone health, then I would look at iron levels because over time off and especially when you start bleeding, so you’re not getting rid of the iron every month. Iron accumulation during menopause can cause an imbalance in bone remodeling. So iron inhibits osteoblasts and contributes to bone loss. And then the osteo class they break down that bone and they’re not but you’re not producing more so you’re breaking down bone tissue. You’re not pretty Using more, it’s being blocked by iron. And then that’s going to ultimately result in bone loss. And if you’re someone that also has maybe some other mineral imbalance, like calcium and magnesium, which is very common, typically, I mean, think about it, like, nowadays, I feel like, you know, when our generations older will have known, or at least a good chunk of us will have known about things like, you know, magnesium is important. Even my parents, now they take it, but like, they haven’t been taking it their whole lives, you know, like their, this is all like newer for them. So I think it’ll be so different for our generation. But I also, I think, for women that are postmenopausal now, they are disadvantaged, because they likely have not been, you know, utilizing magnesium supplements. And they’ve been doing the more old school method, it’s just like, take calcium, and then it’s not meeting their needs, they’re still having bone issues, even I’ve even had clients that have been using hormone replacement therapy like estrogen and progesterone during menopause, and they still have bone health issues. And a lot of it’s coming down to the mineral status, and iron imbalances much more. And usually, thyroid issues, much more than actually like a calcium deficiency or a hormone problem, so that iron overload can lead to an increase in mineral loss. I also think it’s important to note that iron deficiency can also impact bone formation. So it’s really just such like a Goldilocks mineral, where it’s like, if you have too much, it’s going to impact your bones and inflammation and gut health and hormones. If you have too little, it can also impact those things. And like thyroid and stuff, so we want it to be in balance, I just think that specifically for that population, it tends to be more overloaded with iron because they’re not experiencing the getting rid of it every month with their bleed. And a lot of them even before they like are fully in menopause. It’s like the years leading up, they could have irregular cycles. And maybe they only have like, a couple periods a year for like five years. Like that’s a that’s like the continual like accumulation of iron over time. Plus paired with like magnesium deficiency, it’s a recipe for bone loss. So if we are looking at that postmenopausal season of life, and we’re like, how can we support bone health, and this is for everyone. But I think especially that population, where it’s more applicable and a bigger concern, calcium,

yes, we need enough, probably I would not do supplements, still talk to your doctor though. And then magnesium, you’re likely going to need to supplement but if you do supplement magnesium, you need to get enough calcium in your diet, because if you take too much magnesium, you can deplete your calcium. But it’s not hard to you know, eat calcium rich foods. And then boron I would you can get your boron tested via your hair mineral test. And then finally looking at like, is iron out of balance is that the thing that’s keeping you from making new bone in increasing bone loss? One thing I will say too, is like there’s a study and I linked it, where they noticed that like ferritin levels like doubled when women during menopause. So it is significant. I know some people think that the iron exes thing is not real, I do think it’s real. I think you just need to keep it all into context with yourself. And I will do an iron deep dive episode that goes into that much, much more. But that’s what we want to consider with bone health and calcium. There’s other nutrients involved. And then when we think of calcium and thyroid health, this is one where they very clearly impact each other. There’s still things that we don’t know about the relationship between the calcium and the thyroid. But we know that thyroid hormone impacts calcium levels, because of how it impacts our parathyroid glands. And then we know calcium levels definitely impact how we use thyroid hormone. For example, if our thyroid is underactive, it can lead to low calcium, and then that stimulates parathyroid hormone release, right? So hypo thyroid can lead to low calcium levels, which then causes parathyroid hormone release. And if our thyroid is overactive, we can have excess calcium. It doesn’t always happen perfectly this way. There are plenty of cases where it’s hypo thyroid with calcium deficiency, or high calcium or hyperthyroid with high calcium, or low calcium. We still need more research on this, I link some of the articles that I went through. But I think the biggest thing is that right now we know that excess calcium does reduce cell permeability. So what can pass through the cell and what do we have to get into the cell in order to use it properly? All our nutrients right other minerals, but we also need to get thyroid hormone inside the cell. So if we have this reduced, you know, cell permeability, or if we have not as many minerals or thyroid hormone getting inside the cell, that’s going to slow everything down. And I think this is partly why when we get thyroid bloodwork done, we can have optimal we can be making enough thyroid hormone, but we can’t use it properly. And that’s where you know all The symptoms pop up, I don’t think it’s 100% of the puzzle, because if we don’t have enough potassium, we don’t use thyroid hormone Well, or if we have way too much calcium, then we can have a hard time getting iodine to bind iodine receptors, which of course, we use iodine to make thyroid hormone. But we know that excess calcium equals slower movement of thyroid hormone and nutrients inside the cell, which will then lead to like hypothyroid type symptoms. But you may not see that on your bloodwork and may be more like symptoms. The way you would know that is if you did a hair test or blood work that showed high calcium, okay, and then that leads us to blood sugar, because if we think of that reduced cell permeability, we can’t get things inside the cell as easily. That also means glucose, right. So if we have a harder time getting glucose inside the cell, then our but our body is still going to be sensing Oh, we have sugar in the blood, we need to get that sugar out of the blood because it can damage our organs, it’s going to keep releasing insulin, until we get that sugar inside the cell. And over time, that can lead to insulin resistance, because we’re releasing more and more and more. And then that can definitely lead to you know pre diabetes, diabetes can make things like PCOS much worse, that sort of thing. Gestational diabetes. So this excessive release of insulin can then lead to low blood sugars. And so I think this is like a harder concept for people to grasp, but like high calcium equals low blood sugar, because even though high calcium can lead to more insulin resistance, it still can eventually lead to more low blood sugars, because you’re it’s not necessarily that you’re having too much glucose, it’s more that you just can’t get the glucose inside the cell. So your body’s like, okay, cool, we’re going to keep releasing this insulin until it’s gone. So excess calcium equals harder to get glucose inside the cell equals more insulin equals low blood sugar. And then, on the other end of the spectrum, if we don’t have enough calcium, this often leads to high blood sugars, because we need calcium in order for our beta cells and our pancreas to release insulin. Right? Those are the cells that are responsible. So if someone has type one diabetes, it’s typically because those cells aren’t working properly, and they cannot release insulin. So they have to take insulin, if we’re just deficient in calcium, and we’re releasing less than that can also have a tendency for high blood sugars and not be great. It’s just typically less intense than something like type one diabetes, and it can happen like over time, right? Typically, we’re not all of a sudden, one day super deficient in calcium, it takes a lot of time, it could take things like not getting enough in your diet, lots of stress, taking too much magnesium, not having enough magnesium, like many different things can eventually lead to that magnesium deficiency. And which will then eventually lead to more and more high blood sugars, because we can’t get that insulin secreted properly. And over time, of course, that’s going to lead to insulin resistance, diabetes, that sort of thing as well. So calcium, it both low and high. Calcium can impact our blood sugar, high calcium equals low blood sugars, low calcium equals high blood sugars, they can both lead to insulin resistance and diabetes. But I think calcium blood sugar is one that’s just not talked about a lot. And I think studies that show how it’s important for the beta cells for those that are like, just real, it’s definitely real. And I tend to see people with low calcium on a hair test, they just have like so many swings like it’s more, and it’s like immediately after a meal, right. So it’s very, very like almost like hypoglycemic type thing, because their blood sugar stays so high, then they release more and more insulin, and then it’s like they’re shaky. It’s very similar to like hyperthyroid overactive thyroid symptoms. So if you’re having a lot of blood sugar symptoms, and you haven’t explored calcium if you’re just like pounding magnesium supplements, because they can be helpful. If you’re not balancing that out with calcium, it could be causing more harm than good for your insulin. Okay, the next thing we’re going to get into is the relationship between calcium and magnesium. Just so we can better understand exactly how these two minerals are working together.

thyroid health is essential for healthy hormones, digestion, energy and more. Our thyroid is so important because it sets the metabolic pace of our body which controls how every single system functions. Whether you think you may have some thyroid dysfunction going on based on symptoms you may have or have a confirmed diagnosis, chances are you haven’t been given the best tools to address your thyroid health. I’ve been there thyroid is a big part of my health journey and something I’ve been optimizing for the last decade. I’m very passionate about this topic, which is why I created a free thyroid training that walks you through how to assess thyroid health, all the labs. I do cover bloodwork and what the app ranges are, I just want to say that I think we have to look beyond bloodwork when it comes to assessing our thyroid health. That’s why I also cover hair, mineral testing, urine testing, and then basal body temperature, which is a measurement you can do at home to assess your thyroid health. I’ve had so many people reach out and say they can’t believe that this training is free, I promise you won’t be disappointed. I also cover nutrition tips for optimizing thyroid health, you can head to the link in the show notes or to my website, hormone healing rd.com To watch the training, there’s just so much lacking when it comes to helpful info on thyroid health. So I’m really hoping that this training helps you and fills that gap.

So let’s dig into the relationship between calcium and magnesium. When these two minerals are imbalanced, everything is beautiful they work really well together are the different systems of the body bone health is good blood sugar, thyroid, all those things, nervous system functions optimally when they start to become out of balance, like I talked about the bone health thing and how low magnesium can lead to overactive parathyroid, which takes calcium from the bones and teeth and leads to excess calcium in the blood. And just like leaving the tissues or on a hair test, then that’s a huge issue, right? That can lead to calcification, excess calcium can slow down how thyroid hormone gets inside your cell, how glucose gets inside your cell, which impacts blood sugar. So magnesium deficiency can lead to an excess of calcium leaving the cell, eventually things can get depleted. So usually, it eventually leads to a calcium deficiency just takes time. And if you’re doing a hair test, you might see you know, it’s showing the last three months. So you might see like really low magnesium, with really high calcium or both minerals can be really high. So that is like one aspect of it. Calcium deficiency can also impact magnesium levels. So if we are if we don’t get enough calcium in our diet, or we’re deficient for different reasons, then that can eventually lead to a magnesium deficiency. We want them to be in balanced. And this is why I think that when we talk about supplementation, like should I take calcium or magnesium supplements, you always want to think of the other mineral. So many people take magnesium supplements. Now it’s very well known. And I think it’s a good fit for probably most people, I don’t start there low because it can if you have very low potassium and potassium, it can make that hard to increase because it inhibits aldosterone. So you do want to be careful, I always say like start with adrenal cocktails first, or potassium rich foods, getting sea salt on your food. And then from there, consider magnesium supplementation if you need it. But so often, I feel like we forget about the calcium piece when we’re just blindly taking magnesium. Like I get a lot of people that are taking it for if they have PCOS or insulin resistance, and they’re trying to optimize that insulin resistance, which in theory makes sense because magnesium can make ourselves more sensitive to insulin, so we don’t need as much, which is good, right? That improves insulin resistance. But if we don’t have enough calcium, and we’re just taking a lot of magnesium, and then we don’t have adequate calcium, or if we have an excess, then that’s going to impact how our beta cells secrete insulin in the first place, or how quickly we can get glucose glucose inside the cell. So we need both of the minerals to be considered together. I don’t recommend calcium supplementation, just because I think it can cause more problems than it helps. And if you get calcium from food, it does not lead to calcification. And I put some studies in the show notes that clearly show that because that’s a common question I get is like I’ve high calcium and a hair test, like should I avoid dairy? I’m like, no, no, because the food doesn’t lead calcification, it’s other things, it’s stress, it’s magnesium deficiency, it’s having like thyroid dysfunction, hyperparathyroidism, that kind of thing. So we don’t necessarily want to stop calcium rich foods, I would say that’s never appropriate for I can’t think of an instance where that would be appropriate. And I mean, non dairy to it doesn’t have to be dairy. So I would, you know, you always want to support calcium. But most of the time we’re just taking magnesium we’re not always thinking that there are some magnesium supplements that are like blends that have both but even then I would not take a supplement form of calcium, I would just take the magnesium and prioritize calcium rich foods. And even if you think about supplementing with magnesium, like just be smart and talk with your doctor maybe you do a hair test maybe you see support sodium and potassium first to make sure you tolerate it. But I think for most people, it can be great it’s just it’s one of those things where it’s like you could be causing an imbalance in your calcium or making excess calcium like worse. But really when it comes down to like most people are like should I take a calcium supplement like I utilize whole food sources. So in the in Patreon this week With the bonus episode, you’re gonna get my recipe for eggshell powder. So that’s one that I like to use, especially if someone doesn’t eat dairy and they have a hard time getting in the non dairy sources, then I would say eggshell powder is a great one, I also like casein, that’s a protein powder, but it also has a good amount of calcium in it. And those are like food forms. So like you’re gonna absorb it better. It’s not giving you a crazy high amount. And you could even like time that like with your magnesium supplement, like if you have that in the morning, then you take your magnesium in the morning or nighttime, calcium, magnesium can be calming. So they can be a nice combination to pair together at night. But definitely focus on food, eggshell powder, or casein for the calcium. And then magnesium. Typically, you do need to supplement. I’m going to talk all about that in the next episode, though. So we want to have these two minerals imbalance deficiency and one can lead to an imbalance in the other and vice versa. Which is why we want to be smart and careful with supplementation. So let’s now talk about how like what happens when we have an excess of calcium? Like what are the health implications? Because I think that we focus, I’ll talk about deficiency too. A lot of them are similar, but I think most of the time we’re focusing on our deficiency and not enough on Okay, well, what happens if we have too much calcium that’s leaving the tissues or getting like calcified in the tissues. So number one risk of osteoporosis. Again, it’s not where it’s supposed to be calcium is leaving the bones in the teeth. And it’s that can lead to that means like bone loss. So osteoporosis, heart health is huge. I talked about this before too much calcium can lead to calcium deposits in the lining of our arteries, that can lead to definitely increase your risk of heart attacks and strokes. And then if you have high calcium, typically, it’s gonna lead to low magnesium, which can increase your blood pressure. And if we pair that with calcium deposits, like not a good combination, so I know we focus so much on cholesterol for heart health, but I’m like we got to talk about minerals. Because those two are really, really important, and can also increase your risk of gallstones, which is interesting, I think a lot of it has to do with how it can impact thyroid health and how that impacts and blood sugar and how that can impact our sex hormones. I did a whole gallbladder podcast last season. And we talked about the effect of thyroid and estrogen and progesterone on gallbladder health and gall stones, it can increase your risk of kidney stones and UTIs live people with recurrent UTIs have an excess calcium on their hair test, increase your risk of asthma, we can lower vitamin D levels. And this is a protective measure. So remember, we raise active vitamin D in the kidney when calcium is low. So that we can increase calcium absorption in the intestines. When we lower active D because calcium is too high, it reduces calcium absorption to help bring it down. So half the time it’s like then, you know, we have say we’re only looking at vitamin D, and we’re not looking at calcium, and your doctor says your vitamin D is low, you need to supplement, but you already have high calcium, you’re just gonna make it higher. So everything is nuanced. I don’t think anything is like right or wrong for every single person. But it’s like these are things that we want to take into consideration. And then decreased cell permeability, like I said, it’s harder to get thyroid hormone through glucose through which can lead to a slower metabolism and blood sugar issues. And then of course, if we have that excess calcium leaving the bones in teeth, then we can have arthritis and joint pain. So those are all like the health implications when we have too much why the main drivers have this magnesium deficiency, which I’ve talked about a few times how that drives up parathyroid hormone, too much vitamin D supplementation, because that’s going to lead to excess increase, it’s going to increase it in the gut like how much we’re absorbing. And then that can cause calcification, and I’ll put studies in the shownotes for that shows this. But again, too low of vitamin D can also cause calcification, so it’s a balance. Certain medications like antacids are really common. I have so many people that come to me taking them and they’re like, I hate that I have to take these but I have such bad heartburn that I don’t know what else to do. So only thing that helps. And oftentimes we’ll see really high calcium on their hair test. And it’s it’s like further lowering stomach acid. It contains calcium, so it’s just like a recipe for disaster. Calcium supplementation can lead to these excess calcium levels and calcification. And if I have this study, I put in the notes where it says calcium intake greater than 1500 milligrams per day can decrease parathyroid hormone, which increases the risk of low bone turnover. So again, like some people want to use this strategy, if they have hyperparathyroidism I still would I would address magnesium first. I’ve had quite a few clients with hyperthyroidism and it’s always a complex case like you have to assess thyroid health. Make sure that is optimal. We have to look at magnesium deficiency that’s often overlooked, which I think is just like crazy to me, because I’m like these people are really suffering. And their long term bone health and overall health is really being compromised. And something as simple as a magnesium supplement could help. And we don’t know that like, it’s just mind boggling. I look at that. And then boron. Remember, boron deficiency can cause overactive parathyroid glands? And, I mean, obviously, like, do they have insulin resistance? What’s their health history? How’s their digestion? Are they absorbing the nutrients that you’re giving them? But you know, it’s, it’s important. And I think that yes, I’m saying I don’t typically recommend calcium supplements, but it depends on the case. And even then I would still use the other ones, the food based ones. I do want to note though, that although it says 1500 milligrams a day from supplements, I know some people are gonna think, Oh, if I get that much from food, am I going to have too much calcium, and then that leads to low bone turnover, it does not happen with food. It only happens with supplements. And I put research in there that shows that stress is a big one that reduces magnesium, and then that will raise our tissue calcium, remember from parathyroid hormone, and this eventually can lead to a calcium shell, I’m going to go into very great detail of what the calcium shell is in the bonus episode for this week, because this is this was also a very common question that I got on Instagram of like, how do I get rid of a calcium shell on my hair test, and if you’re like, what’s the calcium shell, it’s when your your calcium is really, really high, like 170 or higher on a hair mineral test. So I’m gonna go through that, because that’s like a whole episode by itself. If you want to get access to that you can join patreon.com/hormone Healing rd, but a lot of what’s driving that are like chronic mental, emotional, physical stressors. So like over time, if they’re continuing, magnesium continues to get depleted. Plus, maybe we’re have a lot of these other factors that have already gone through involved, that can eventually lead to a calcium shell, excess unbound copper, which is very common with calcium shells, and a hair test or high calcium and a hair test that increases calcium in the tissue acts as estrogen also increases calcium. So oftentimes, we’re going to have less magnesium when we have high estrogen, and then that’s going to lead to more tissue calcium. So again, magnesium, right, just like you can’t, a lot. And a lot of these things, I could say magnesium for every single one, honestly, because we need magnesium to get copper into its usable form. So if you don’t have enough that will cause excess on bound copper. So pretty much it all goes back to both of these minerals, anytime I mentioned these. So those are those are like the main the main reasons that we’ll have the excess calcium. And then that’s like how you know, it’s going to impact our health, calcium deficiency. On the other hand, you can still have the risk of osteoporosis, right, because you need calcium. And then you can have an increased risk of insulin resistance because those beta cells are not working properly, which increases your risk of diabetes, or risk of high blood pressure, because remember, we need those calcium ions to impact the electrical of the heart muscle. Insomnia, very common with low calcium and a hair test, brain fog, anxiety and depression. A lot of those are related to how calcium impacts our nervous system because it affects neurotransmitters. There are some correlations with low calcium and allergies as well like histamine intolerance, skin issues like eczema and psoriasis. We need more research on this. But I will say from clinical practice, I’ve seen 1000s of hair mineral tests, I’ve worked with hundreds of clients. And I very often see low like significantly low calcium paired with gut issues, histamine intolerance, insomnia, and skin issues, they often go together, you can, it can lead to a deficiency can lead to overactive thyroid, or adrenals. And then involuntary muscle contraction or like techni. That can also be a symptom that’s like pretty severe calcium deficiency, though. And then muscle spasms in general. So you can have muscle spasms from an excess, you can have muscles problems from not having enough. That’s why I do think testing is really important. And remember, blood levels are kept very, very tight. So I would really consider hair mineral testing if you want to see your calcium status before things get crazy bad. And then, as far as like what is causing the deficiency, it’s going to be things like not getting enough in your diet. Of course, either too much magnesium or not enough magnesium deficiency will eventually cause calcium deficiency. I often see it with people that have a low parathyroid and thyroid dysfunction because it’s going to impact how we like releases from our bones are active vitamin D, how we’re absorbing in the gut, Vitamin D deficiency, because we’re going to have less calcium absorbed in the gut, which often is going to go back to magnesium deficiency. And then those that have got stress that are moving towards that like exhaustive stage of stress. It’s like they just have a lot of mineral loss, right? They just don’t have a lot of reserves are not digesting things. Well, a lot of them can’t tolerate calcium rich foods like dairy at that point. So I do think calcium deficiency can be common, I mostly see it with fast metabolic types and people that are super stressed and have a lot of gut stress. But it can really come like anyone can experience it just depending on their health history. Alright, let’s go through the RDA quickly. Right now, the recommended daily allowance for calcium for women is around 1200 milligrams. And then for men, it’s about 1000 milligrams, I would say like most people would probably do well with around 1200 milligrams a day from food. This will depend on other minerals, though. So like, magnesium obviously is important. Boron is important. Copper is important. So we want to consider other things. But I think if you can, I know people will be like, how much should I get in a day from food? I would say like most people will probably be good with that. That’s RDA. If you have low levels, you probably need more. If you have high levels, you don’t need less, you probably need to look at magnesium, boron, copper, those things. Are you taking vitamin D all the stuff I went through? Okay, let’s go through the Instagram questions. All right, question one, what are the best non dairy sources of calcium, I would say sardines, salmon, cooked collard greens, cook tail and white beans. And I have an Instagram post on this. And I think there’s just like so many ways to get calcium from there’s a lot of foods that are high in calcium, even higher than milk that are not dairy. I do think it’s like more convenient to get them from dairy like I think of like yogurt, cottage cheese, that sort of thing. Like they’re gonna give you protein and calcium. So they’re often like very easy to work into, like snacks and stuff. They also have potassium, which is great, but a lot of these other ones have potassium as well. I like to do a mix personally, you’re also getting like white beans are great because you get a lot of calcium, but you also get a lot of potassium, cooked collard greens and cooked kale because you’re not going to absorb as much calcium if they’re raw, because of the phytates in them. So if you cook them that can break them down. And then someone asked how do I get enough calcium? If you don’t like drinking milk? I would say like, if you can join the patriot, I mean, eat those foods. You could track your food. I mean, probably the most practical way to track your food for like, three four days, use chronometer, it’s my favorite app, then you can look how much calcium my currently getting. And then you can see, am I eating any of these high calcium foods? If not, how can I start to work these in, that’s going to be like the most applicable to you, I do have the resource inside Patreon that has like a sample day of how to get more calcium from food. That could be a good resource as well. Totally optional. Okay, can a low calcium despite eating lots of dairy on a hair test, be connected with magnesium intolerance. So this person, I’m assuming they take magnesium and like they don’t feel good? Like they may feel like too wired and stressed, I would say it could if they’re already both low, which I’m guessing if their calcium is low and a hair test, or magnesium is also probably low, I would say like look at the rest of your minerals, how’s your sodium and potassium because most often people do not tolerate magnesium well, because they already have low sodium and potassium. And that magnesium makes it even harder to retain that sodium and potassium. So I would look more at the low sodium potassium and work on that first, then try the magnesium.

Okay, and then I got so many questions on hair tests and high calcium. So someone said, What does high calcium on a hair test mean? Again, like, this is kind of like the last one, where if I can’t really tell you if I don’t know you and if I don’t know what your other mineral levels are. So high calcium in a hair test could mean any of the things that I went through that can cause high calcium. So you would just want to listen to that again and go through which apply to me. And then someone said my hair test showed high calcium but I don’t eat much dairy and 38 and I’m worried about bone health. So if it’s high calcium, that means it’s leaving the tissues most likely I would look at are you are taking vitamin D. Do you have a magnesium deficiency? Do you supplement with magnesium? How’s your boron because boron helps keep calcium inside the cell as well. How’s copper Do you have excess copper because that can lead to excess calcium leading tissue to so again like going through those different markers that I went through I think that is the most helpful to see which ones actually apply to me because cuz I don’t know these people and I don’t know like what their other hair test levels are. That’s when you need to like focus on the other minerals and just going through and based on your health history. What applies to you. And this person saying they don’t eat much dairy. It’s very common if you’re thinking about it if you’re not getting enough cows from your diet, then your overtime your blood levels can go down. And then what happens we release parathyroid hormone, which then breaks down our bones and gets it from gets calcium from those, which would look like high calcium on a hair test. So I would say add calcium rich foods to your diet. You don’t want to avoid calcium from food if a tie in your hair test. Okay, and then someone said, what reduces high calcium my hair test, it just depends on where it’s coming from, like everything I just went through. And then how do you heal calcium shell, that is a whole podcast episode. So please join Patreon if you want to hear me go through that. And I’m going to break down like what causes them, how you can start chipping away at reducing them. Okay, and I got some really good ones on calcium, and breastfeeding and pregnancy. So the first one is do I need extra calcium if pregnant or postpartum. So I’m gonna talk about pregnancy first, because they are different. And I have a really cool article that I’m linking in the show notes. It’s like very easy to understand and read it. They call it like continuing ed or whatever, but they link to like a ton of different studies in it. And it’s very comprehensive. So they go through like how we have a huge demand for calcium in pregnancy. 100%. They talked about the average calcium transferred to the fetus during pregnancy is 50 milligrams per day during the second trimester, and 250 milligrams a day during the third trimester. That’s a lot when you think about it. And it says if the mother does not have adequate dietary calcium pre conceptionally, and during the pregnancy, significant maternal bone density could be lost. But it looks like we have this cool adaptive mechanism during pregnancy. Where our 125 vitamin D levels, the active vitamin D levels increase. And especially in the first trimester, it reaches its highest point during the third trimester as the 125 D levels double a 25% increase occurs in the amount of intestinal calcium absorption. This increase can occur as early as 12 weeks gestation. So basically, we have this mechanism built in with our kidneys converting that active vitamin D during pregnancy, even during that first trimester. And that means we absorb more calcium from the foods that we’re eating. So you still need to eat the calcium rich foods, you don’t necessarily have to eat more of them unless you’re not eating enough to begin with. But there is like a very, there is a very increased need during pregnancy. For calcium. It’s just so cool that our body’s like don’t worry, we got it like you don’t have to do anything. And then it says the daily transfer of calcium from mother to her infant during lactation ranges from 250 to 300 milligrams, it has been observed as high as 1000 milligrams per day. While the summation of this transfer, the mother could lose 25 to 30 grams of calcium over a three month period of lactation, representing approximately 3% of her body’s calcium stores. This has also been found to increase steadily if the mother continues to breastfeed with a 6% total body calcium loss after six months of lactation. But then after you’re done, breastfeeding your bones remineralizing almost goes back to normal. It’s like pretty cool. bracingly, it’s like any concerns you have like most likely your body will reverse it, which I just thought was like, super cool, super interesting. Someone did ask about calcium metabolism during lactation. Because obviously like, if, if you’re breastfeeding, that the protective mechanism from pregnancy goes away, you’re not absorbing more calcium, like you were. So I would say you probably need more calcium postpartum, I just think it’s best to test your levels. And to look at how much you’re getting in your diet. You don’t even have to test you could just track your food. And if you’re only getting like 800 milligrams a day, and you know that you could be giving most of that to the to your baby then probably want to up that I don’t think you need to like try to get like 2000 milligrams a day from food, but you could definitely experiment and if you want to test your levels, that’ll give you more information. But I think just being proactive with getting enough is probably enough for most people. And then it says during lactation, parathyroid hormone serum calcium and ionized calcium and urinary calcium excretion levels return to normal. So we no longer have this, like this mechanism where we’re trying to increase calcium levels in the body. Basically all this happens within six weeks of postpartum. And I feel like at the six week mark, I had like a crazy hormonal shift. So I just wonder like what else is shifting at that time, hormone levels of the 125 Vitamin D go back to normal and then as a result, no increase in intestinal absorption of calcium occurs to compensate for the loss. They do talk about how there is a p th parathyroid related protein that is produced by our mammary glands, and possibly influenced by higher prolactin levels which prolactin is what we released in order to lactate. It’s increased significantly during lactation. We’re not sure what this does. specifically like it’s still not fully understood, but some people believe that the hormone influenced the absorption of calcium from the maternal skeleton and suppresses p th levels. Because the higher levels of that p th related protein, they do correlate with bone loss during lactation. They do say, though, that prolactin and estrogen levels will both impact calcium and bone metabolism, of course, and if you have lower levels of estrogen during lactation, because you’re not cycling, which is really common, you know, you don’t always get your period back right away a lot of women don’t, then that’s going to increase how much bone you’re turning over, and can lead to more bone loss. But if you’re someone that did get your cycle back sooner, I know sometimes, like I got it back five months postpartum, and I was bummed, I was like, not mentally prepared to ovulate and stuff. I was just like, No, I do not want to have hormonal shifts. It was hard. It was like a really hard transition for me. Which it was I know everyone’s so different. But it’s like we co sleep I literally sleep next to every single night, you nurses all night. I’m with her constantly. And she and I still got my cycle back five months postpartum. So interesting stuff. But then I’m reading this. And it’s like studies have shown that women with menses return sooner, and therefore experienced the return of estrogen sooner had a smaller loss of bone density during lactation, like, Ah, well, you know, that’s like one perk. So I think it depends, like if you’re someone that’s postpartum, if you had low calcium going into pregnancy, you probably want to support it more. If you haven’t gotten your period back yet, you may want to prioritize more calcium, but I would always look at your magnesium too, because that’s going to play a big role. But I just thought that was interesting. So I linked the article if anyone wants to read it, okay to more family history of osteoporosis, but bloodwork shows high calcium, how do you fix it? Talk to your doctor, but I would have them test for hyperparathyroidism. How was your parathyroid hormone, I would test your vitamin D status, I would do a full thyroid panel to make sure this isn’t coming from the thyroid. And then look at magnesium because you could if it’s hyperthyroid, you could have magnesium or boron deficiency. So I would do hair test bloodwork repair thyroid, thyroid, vitamin D, and then I would you could even do it for magnesium RBC, we could probably just do a hair test. And then you could look at boron calcium, X, I wonder what it looks like in your hair test. boron, calcium, copper, magnesium on your hair test. That’s how I would assess it and then figure out where the root cause is coming from.

Okay, does dairy impact iron absorption? So there are studies that show that supplements and food sources like dairy that have like basically supplements of calcium, or food sources, like dairy can decrease iron absorption. But the interesting thing is when I was looking at a review of these studies, because like that’s what you know, that’s what I learned in school. And it’s like, yes, technically it can, it can decrease iron absorption. But there’s a review on humans where calcium intake was substantially increased for long periods. And it shows no changes in hematological measures or indicators of iron status. So while yes, calcium could inhibit that iron absorption, whether it’s from supplements or food, it doesn’t look like it looks like it’s like short term, it doesn’t look like there’s like a long term effect on bloodwork, like iron levels are anything but there could be something that like your body could be compensating, and they even say that there could be compensating mechanisms like so. It’s, I would say like yes, it could. And I’ve I have someone that’s pretty deficient in iron and we’ve tried a lot of things and we’ve worked on copper and vitamin A and they’re still not seeing changes in their iron status or if they have a health history with like lots of blood loss or something like that. And we’re trying to up iron I will say like, let’s try to avoid your dead like dairy and calcium rich foods like with like your red meat and your beef liver supplements or like your blood vitality or something like that, just to you know, check all the boxes. But I do think it’s interesting that we haven’t actually seen long term studies where it makes a big difference but technically yes, but also like maybe not, but that is it that is our calcium deep dive episode if you want to get access to the resources, the food daily recommend the food examples of calcium how to get more of a premier food, the eggshell powder, a resource and then the bonus episode where I talked about the nervous system and calcium shells. Make sure you join patreon.com forward slash hormone healing rd and I hope you enjoyed this I will see you in the next episode where we talk all about magnesium

Thank you for listening to this episode of The Are You Menstrual podcast. If you want to support my work please leave a review and let me know how you like the episode Oh, this lets me know if what you guys want more of less of. I read every single one. And I appreciate them more than you know. If you want to keep learning you can get access to the bonus episode and additional resources on patreon.com forward slash hormone healing rd I’d love to have you in there. Thanks again and I will see you in the next episode.

Amanda Montalvo

Amanda Montalvo is a women's health dietitian who helps women find the root cause of hormone imbalances and regain healthy menstrual cycles.

Master Your Minerals

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Hormone Healing RD