November 29, 2007  

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Over-Calcification A National Scandal!

Government-Sponsored Over-Calcification Supported By Uninformed Physicians And Irresponsible Supplement And Food Manufacturers

To Blame For Skyrocketing Number Of Heart Deaths



Contrary to popular belief, women with heart disease make up the largest health risk group in the United States. Heart disease is by far the biggest killer in America, and females are 15 percent more likely to die of this ailment than men, according to American Heart Association statistics.

In the last two decades, the annual number of male deaths from heart disease has dropped from 510,000 to 440,000. But in the same twenty year period, the number of women dying each year from cardiovascular ailments has risen from 490,000 to 510,000. Even more alarming, heart ailments are now prevalent among a younger group of women than would be expected, and deaths often occur with little prior warning.

What’s going on? Physicians claim to be ‘mystified’ since the type of sudden cardiovascular event that ‘fells’ women is unexpected and has few of the diagnostic symptoms that typify similar events in men. Women who suddenly drop dead usually have no angina and no clogged arteries. Only 35 percent of females crushed by heart attacks had been diagnosed with heart disease; 45 percent of survivors felt the disease just "came out of the blue".

How does the medical professional explain this? They don’t. Many of the bewildered blame ‘gender bias’, claiming women are not treated as ‘aggressively’ as men for heart disease. Really? Is “preventive bypass surgery” on the horizon?

Contrary to the many contrived justifications, it’s clear that an ill-conceived government intervention, fueled in part by health agencies with a close alliance with industry lobbyists, is responsible. An important health-impacting change in public policy resulted in a dramatic revision in government dietary recommendations that has led to unanticipated, and still unrecognized, death-promoting consequences.

A short history lesson is called for .. so here it is.

After having been roundly criticized for ‘neglecting’ women’s health issues, NIH made a bold move in the early 1990’s, to correct this politically challenging oversight. At a hastily called consensus meeting, conferees declared women in danger of an epidemic of osteoporosis.

To forestall such a possibility, daily calcium requirements were raised to 1,000 to 1,500 mg. To meet those requirements, government experts urged immediate calcium fortification of prepared and packaged foods. To insure women of all ages increased their calcium intake, the FDA allowed manufacturers to make health claims for calcium-fortified products.

Despite scant scientific validation that calcium supplementation in the recommended potencies would have the promised beneficial effect on bone strengthening, the government hastily provided the supplement and food industries with a marketing bonanza. In their haste, ‘experts’ overlooked or ignored many research findings that cast doubt on the wisdom of this ‘more calcium for all’ edict. Calcium 101 teaches calcium supplementation alone has but a small positive effect on bone density. The data shows a trend toward reduction in vertebral fractures, but it is unclear if calcium reduces the incidence of non vertebral fractures. In addition, calcium absorption can vary from 5 to 10% of the total taken to 85% according to the type taken – the cheapest and most easily available, being the worst performer, of course. Contrary to the promise that 1,500 mg of calcium daily is required to ward off osteoporosis, that disease is almost unheard of in Asia where the average daily calcium intake is only 300 mg.

Another totally overlooked question was the possibility of “over-comsumption”. The nutritionally well informed understand that too much calcium can be more dangerous than too little – excess calcium can travel to your arteries, brain and eyes, causing numerous health problems, and will interfere with the absorption of manganese which can lead to increased bone fractures! In other words, the recommended doses of calcium are so high, they’re potentially dangerous - and so they’ve turned out to be!

Health problems can be predicted and expected when the absolute necessity of balancing calcium with magnesium is NEVER mentioned! The medical literature is replete with warnings against a calcium/magnesium imbalance which occurs whenever calcium floods the cells without a sufficient offsetting amount of magnesium. If you don’t have enough magnesium to keep the calcium in check, you end up with muscle cramps, fibromyalgia, kidney stones, and even dental cavities as well as high blood pressure and the arterial spasm associated with heart attacks and sudden death.

As the August 1999 International journal of Epidemiology pointed out, “Low magnesium is a risk factor for death from heart disease.” The experts quoted went so far as to suggest that the commonly popular suggested ratio of 2:1 calcium/magnesium is probably wrong and should be reversed to 2:1 magnesium/calcium!

So what are the chances you are among the over-calcified? It’s probably a sure thing as a store shelf survey of food and nutrition items in a variety of markets indicates. Just as the government urged, almost every prepared  food boasts a ‘high calcium’ content, yet few stipulate how ‘high’ that is, so only the most skeptical and informed consumer might suspect that an average daily diet of 2,000 assorted calories may well contain far more than the recommended 1,500 calcium mgs. 

Hard to believe? Consider this: store bought orange juice contains 450 mg calcium per serving; a typical meal replacement ‘health bar’ offers approximately 540 mg.; how about some pizza and fruit juice for a snack or for dinner? Sneak an ice cream bar or a fruit-flavored yogurt and you’ve added another 650 calcium mg. to your over-calcified cells.

Unaware of your true calcium intake, chances are – especially if you’re female – you diligently swallow at least one – if not more – of the highly hyped calcium nutritionals. Reading the labels on these supplements is enough to give the nutritionally wise a heart attack on the spot!  With government endorsement, the race is on. Supplement manufacturers vie to win the ‘potency’ race.  Last Sunday’s winner  was Nature’s Bounty with a 1200 mg calcium softgel – not a drop of magnesium in the capsules! Even more tempting, the newest shelf entry: chocolate covered chewy calcium snacks.

High calcium, in combination with scant or no magnesium, is common, even among so-called ‘health foods’. If you’ve ever turned on a radio recently, chances are you’re familiar with the Citracal commercials, strongly endorsed by such notable health authorities as well-known media personalities Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and Paul Harvey.

Here are the Citracal health claims permitted by the FDA and continuously repeated by their talk show endorsers:

“Citracal is clinically proven to prevent bone loss”;

“Clinical studies show that post-menopausal women taking CitraCal maintain the thickness of their bones.”

“Citracal is the right partner for all other osteoporosis therapies such as Prilosec, Fosamax, Miacalcin, and Evista. Calcium is recommended by the manufacturers of all prescription osteoporosis therapies”;

“You can rely on Citracal to deliver the calcium you need to protect you in your fight against osteoporosis.”

Let’s look more closely at Citra-Cal: each cap contains 630 mg of calcium citrate (not the best absorbed form); two a day is the suggested dose. That adds up to a whopping 1300 mg – and there is NO magnesium.

Here are a few of the food stuffs found on Whole Foods market shelves:

  • Zone bar – 36% (app. 540 mg)

  • Hagen Daas – 15% (app. 220 mg.)

  • Boca Burger – 12% (app. 180 mg.)

  • Pizza – 20% (app. 300 mg.)

  • Orange juice – 30% (app. 450 mg.)

  • Bagel and Cream cheese – 6% + 25% (app. 465 mg.)

  • Vita Soy Chocolate Milk – 30% (app. 450 mg.)

  • Ensure – the healthy drink – now in a ‘high calcium’ version 40% - 600 mg.

  • Apple juice, cranberry juice, fruit punch - all with calcium added; How much calcium is added? Who knows

Now let’s look at the calcium supplements featured at CVS drug stores:

  • Multi designed for women: 500 mg calcium; 100 mg. magnesium

  • Oyster shell calcium tabs: 500 mgs (sug dose: 2 a day); no magnesium

  • Typical calcium product: 600 mg calcium to 50 mg. of magnesium

  • CVS Cal/Mag caps: 333 cal/ 133 mg. magnesium

The irresponsible and unscientific calcium hype has continued unchallenged for many years, despite the fact that Nutrition 101 teaches the recommended doses of calcium – 1,000 to 1,500 milligrams a day – are not only too high, they’re potentially dangerous.  Here’s why: too much calcium can interfere with the absorption of manganese which can lead to more – not less – bone fractures! Even more worrisome, excess calcium is likely to settle in your arteries, your brain, and your eyes causing numerous other health problems. Worse of all, without sufficient magnesium your body can’t utilize the calcium effectively.  Additionally, there is evidence that excess calcium in males, increases the risk of prostate cancer.

Considering all the hidden calcium you’re unwittingly ingesting in fortified foods, you’re heading for disaster if you’re on the high calcium/low magnesium regimen. Take enough magnesium, and you probably don’t need any calcium supplementation at all. The best insurance against weak bones is Vitamin K-1 – 100 mcg. a day does the trick.   

So the mystery is solved, the picture is complete. As Paul Harvey would say, “now you know the rest of the story.” Women are reaping the inevitable consequences of a massive medical mis-step that has resulted in the over-calcification of an entire generation. Please join our Save-a-Life Crusade and educate yourself, your friends, your relatives and neighbors.

Comment: Yes, we have the answer to over-calcification:



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