Calcium, a fundamental mineral in the human body, plays a pivotal role in maintaining overall health. Primarily known for its contribution to skeletal structure and bone strength, calcium serves as a cornerstone mineral for an array of bodily functions essential for optimal well-being.
Below are just some of the roles Calcium plays in the body.
Bone Health: Calcium constitutes a significant component of bones, providing strength and structure. Adequate calcium intake supports bone density, reducing the risk of fractures and osteoporosis, especially as individuals age. A deficiency in calcium may compromise bone health, leading to conditions like osteopenia or osteoporosis.
Muscle Contraction: Calcium regulates muscle contractions. When a nerve stimulates a muscle, calcium ions are released, allowing muscles to contract. This mechanism is crucial for various body movements, including walking, lifting, and even the beating of the heart.
Nerve Transmission: Calcium ions play a crucial role in transmitting nerve impulses throughout the body. They facilitate the release of neurotransmitters, which are essential for communication between nerve cells. This process enables various bodily functions, including sensory perception and motor responses.
Enzyme Function: Calcium serves as a cofactor for numerous enzymes, supporting their activity in various metabolic processes. Enzymes are catalysts that drive essential chemical reactions in the body, such as blood clotting, hormone secretion, and nutrient metabolism.
Total body calcium is about 980 gram, greater than any other element. Most of it resides in bone. It is essential for bones, teeth, heart, nerves, muscle and even blood clotting. Calcium is important to transmit impulses along nerves as well as to participate in smooth, cardiac and skeletal muscle contraction or relaxation.
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Calcium’s actions are wide! They are involved in:
- neuronal excitation
- neurotransmitter release
- innate immunity
- hormonal secretions
- tone of smooth muscle cells in the vasculature, uterus, GI tract and bladder!
- Calcium signaling is vital for hearing given its role in tuning cochlear hair cells
- Calcium plays a major role in the coagulation cascade as well. And if you have read this blog, you know that hypercoagulation is a major root cause of IC associated biofilms.
Altered calcium levels in the body can lead to potential health issues.
Low calcium levels (hypocalcemia) may result in muscle cramps, numbness, and weakened bone health, increasing the risk of fractures.
Conversely, excessively high calcium levels (hypercalcemia) may cause fatigue, kidney stones, and impaired kidney function.
In addition to its adjunct treatment of osteoporosis, calcium supplements have been used to modulate the consequences of colon cancer, kidney stones and hypertension.
Symptoms of high calcium include weakness, lack of energy, poor appetite, nausea and vomiting, constipation, frequent urination, abdominal or bone pain.
Low serum calcium levels are seen in cases of hypoparathyroidism, intestinal malabsorption, rhabdomyolysis, alkalosis, and acute pancreatitis.
One thing I want to point out is that serum calcium levels are not a sensitive test for early stage calcium deficiency. That is because blood is homeostatic. Serum calcium is unaffected by physiological shifts that affect Calcium balance. For example, eclampsia is associated with lowering of urinary calcium excretion whereas serum calcium is not affected.
As a result, serum calcium testing and Hair Tissue Mineral Analysis (HTMA) serve different purposes in assessing calcium status within the body. So many people say “but my blood levels are normal, my calcium is fine” and that is far from the truth. Because blood is homeostatic, by the time imbalances hit your blood, you would critically ill in the hospital or dead.
Serum Calcium Testing: Serum calcium tests are routine blood tests aimed at measuring the immediate levels of calcium circulating in the bloodstream. These tests are commonly used in clinical settings to evaluate current calcium levels, aiding in the diagnosis of acute conditions such as parathyroid disorders, kidney diseases, or vitamin D deficiencies.
However, while serum calcium tests provide valuable insights into immediate blood calcium concentrations, they may not reflect the body’s overall calcium status accurately. The human body meticulously regulates blood calcium levels within a narrow range, prioritizing this balance to support vital functions. Consequently, serum tests might not detect long-term calcium imbalances or deficiencies occurring at the cellular or tissue level.
Don’t try to compare your Serum testing with Hair testing- they are NOT the same!
Serum calcium tests might not detect early-stage deficiencies, as the body often maintains normal blood calcium levels by extracting calcium from bones or reducing calcium excretion in the urine, masking underlying deficiencies
Hair Tissue Mineral Analysis (HTMA)
On the other hand, HTMA offers a different perspective by examining mineral levels, including calcium, deposited in hair tissue over an extended period. Hair acts as a repository, capturing and retaining elements present in the body over weeks to months. HTMA provides insights into the body’s long-term mineral composition, offering a comprehensive view of mineral imbalances or deficiencies that might not be apparent through serum testing alone.
HTMA allows practitioners to evaluate the body’s mineral status and identify potential imbalances that may affect overall health. While not an immediate reflection of current blood calcium levels, HTMA aids in assessing trends, chronic imbalances, or deficiencies that could impact cellular functions, including bone health, enzyme activity, and nerve function.
Urine calcium indicates the amount of calcium eliminated via the kidneys. Measurements are useful when monitoring therapy with patients who are known to be in a negative calcium balance.
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Unlike the narrow range for serum calcium, hair calcium can vary greatly. Levels in hair are not related to dietary intake- so low levels do not usually correlate with calcium deficiency. In fact, high hair calcium is actually a marker for low calcium intake and negative calcium balance!
Note- Parathyroid hormone strongly regulates the hair growth cycle, providing a mechanism for regulation of calcium incorporation into growing hair. Low calcium intake and the associated elevation of PTH may induce a high level of calcium in the hair. Also, high dietary phosphorus and low calcium intake results in as much as 3x more calcium in the hair. Studies show that low hair calcium is related to increased incidence of coronary artery disease.
Arterial calcification increases the likelihood of a coronary artery event.
Calcium Absorption and Its Nutritional Partners
Calcium absorption is a complex process influenced by various nutrients, each playing a crucial role in maintaining calcium balance within the body. Magnesium, phosphorus, boron, vitamin K, and vitamin D are key partners in calcium metabolism, impacting its absorption, utilization, and overall bone health.
Magnesium: Magnesium collaborates with calcium in numerous physiological processes, aiding in calcium absorption and utilization. It supports the activation of vitamin D, which is essential for calcium absorption in the intestines. Additionally, magnesium helps convert vitamin D into its active form, further enhancing calcium uptake.
Phosphorus: Phosphorus works in tandem with calcium to fortify bone structure and function. An appropriate balance of calcium and phosphorus is vital for bone mineralization. Phosphorus-rich foods complement calcium intake, contributing to skeletal health.
Boron: Boron influences calcium metabolism by potentially enhancing calcium absorption and utilization. While its specific mechanisms are not entirely elucidated, studies suggest that boron might promote the retention of calcium and other minerals in bones.
Vitamin K: Vitamin K plays a pivotal role in calcium utilization within bones and regulates calcium balance. It contributes to the activation of proteins involved in bone mineralization, supporting calcium deposition into bones while ensuring it remains within the skeletal structure.
Vitamin D: Vitamin D is integral for calcium absorption in the intestines. It helps increase the production of proteins that facilitate calcium transport across intestinal walls, thereby enhancing calcium absorption. Additionally, vitamin D aids in maintaining proper blood calcium levels by regulating calcium absorption in the kidneys and promoting calcium retention in bones.
These nutrient partners form an intricate network, supporting calcium absorption and utilization while promoting bone health. Ensuring adequate intake of these nutrients through a balanced diet is crucial for optimizing calcium absorption and maintaining overall skeletal integrity.
However, it’s important to note that imbalances or deficiencies in these nutrients might hinder calcium metabolism, potentially impacting bone health and calcium homeostasis. Therefore, a well-rounded and nutrient-rich diet is essential for supporting optimal calcium absorption and maintaining healthy bones and overall health.
Calcium Shell in Hair Analysis:
calcium shell is when the calcium is above 165 on the HTMA. Basically, what you’re looking at when you see high calcium like this is a presentation of soft tissue calcification.
Calcium is really meant to exist in the bone and the teeth. But when it’s lacking its posse, when it’s lacking the minerals that help keep it in the bone, like, potassium, magnesium, and boron, then it will start getting pulled from the bone and it will start building up in the soft tissue.
The hair is soft tissue, so that’s why we see it high in the hair. It can also be building up in joints, muscles, organs, and even the brain.
There are some clinical associations with a calcium shell
Chronic Pain: Some studies suggest a potential association between a calcium shell in hair analysis and chronic pain conditions. Elevated calcium levels may influence nerve excitability and muscle function, contributing to chronic pain symptoms. This correlation between high calcium levels and chronic pain warrants further investigation to comprehensively understand its implications.
Trauma: An excess of calcium deposition might also be observed in cases of trauma. While the exact relationship between trauma and the appearance of a calcium shell in hair analysis is not fully elucidated, trauma or stress might contribute to mineral imbalances within the body, leading to altered calcium levels reflected in the hair.
Osteoporosis: High calcium levels, as indicated by a calcium shell, could potentially relate to osteoporosis. However, direct causation between a calcium shell in hair analysis and osteoporosis is not definitive. Nevertheless, calcium imbalance is a critical factor in bone health, and excessive calcium accumulation might contribute to bone density issues like osteoporosis.
It’s important to note that while a calcium shell observed in hair analysis may suggest potential associations with chronic pain, trauma, and osteoporosis, it is not a diagnostic tool on its own. Further clinical evaluation and assessments are necessary to confirm any health conditions or imbalances indicated by HTMA.
Addressing mineral imbalances and underlying health issues through personalized approaches guided by healthcare professionals is crucial for optimal health and well-being.
Why you need an HTMA test to Optimize your Health!
The Hair Tissue Mineral Analysis (HTMA) serves as a valuable tool for assessing an individual’s overall health and well-being by analyzing mineral levels in the hair. It provides insights into mineral imbalances and helps understand the body’s mineral metabolism over an extended period.
However, interpreting HTMA results requires expertise due to the nuanced nature of mineral interactions and their impact on health.
Utility of HTMA in Health Assessment
HTMA offers a non-invasive method to evaluate mineral levels, reflecting the body’s mineral status over weeks to months. It can unveil potential imbalances or deficiencies in essential minerals like calcium, magnesium, zinc, and toxic elements such as lead or mercury. By identifying these imbalances, HTMA assists in understanding potential health implications associated with mineral irregularities.
Nuances in Interpretation
Interpreting HTMA results is intricate and requires expertise. While the analysis provides valuable information, it’s crucial for a trained practitioner, such as a healthcare professional specialized in nutrition or mineral analysis, to evaluate the results. The interpretation considers numerous factors, including mineral ratios, trends, and the body’s intricate mineral interactions.
Work with trained Practitioners
Trained practitioners possess the expertise to discern the nuances presented by HTMA. They consider individual variations, health history, dietary habits, and lifestyle factors to derive comprehensive insights. Understanding the complexities of mineral interactions, these practitioners can develop personalized recommendations or interventions to address identified imbalances or deficiencies.
An effective interpretation of HTMA results requires collaboration between patients and trained practitioners. Patients play a crucial role by providing comprehensive health histories, dietary details, and lifestyle habits, aiding practitioners in forming a complete assessment. Through this collaborative approach, individuals can receive tailored recommendations for diet, supplements, or lifestyle modifications to restore mineral balance and support overall health.
HTMA stands as a valuable tool for assessing overall health through mineral analysis. Its ability to detect mineral imbalances offers insights into potential health implications. However, due to the intricacies involved in interpreting results, it’s essential that trained practitioners analyze and interpret HTMA data. This collaborative process empowers individuals to make informed decisions regarding their health, incorporating personalized strategies to optimize well-being.
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