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Calcium Mislabeling Mischief...  
By Alan Graham with Alfred Lehmberg

Let's talk about calcium and labeling subterfuge. Said subterfuge regards the amount of actual, usable calcium, called "Elemental Calcium" (E.Cal.) found in your supplement... for example, if the label said **Calcium Carbonate...1000mg**, you might logically assume that you are getting 1000mg of usable, Elemental Calcium - but you would be wrong! You are actually getting 400mg of calcium & 600mg of carbonate...the "crap" in Tums.
Surprised? Case in point.  You need to know a little about how minerals work and the different forms they take to get to the bottom of this duplicity. Moreover, this labeling slight of hand applies to all minerals, remember, but Calcium is the one most flagrant.
To start, Calcium and all minerals actually, are inorganic! Consequently, they are not easily absorbed. It's required they be bound to some other substance (preferably organic) in order to be utilized at all. That's key, reader. This even applies to ionic trace minerals in sea-water & tap-water that are not bound to anything... their charge causes them to "stick" to the oppositely charged intestinal villi, making them unusable until a slow, inefficient process is completed where the villi coats the mineral with amino acids to reduce the charge to zero so the mineral can sneek past the villi to be absorbed... so one could say - if the mineral doesn't come bound to something , your body will do it for you...but not real efficiently.
Now, the most popular forms are either the least healthful and least absorbable inorganic salts (all grocery-store Multi's like Centrum using carbonate, oxide, phosphate, chloride), or healthfully, the three organic types of chelation (pronounced key-lay-shun). Chelate, figuratively means 'bound to' but literally means 'to claw'.
1. Amino Acid Chelation - can be virtually any combination of the numerous amino acids and any mineral - however, some combos don't work as well, or, at all.
2. Organic salts - usually called organic chelation (like citrate, gluconate, malate, polynicotinate, and many more).
3. Kreb's Cycle Chelation - contains many or all 8 different substances along the energy producing Kreb's Cycle Pathway...actually this could be listed under 2. above also.
Now, MDs normally recommend the inorganic salts like calcium CARBONATE or magnesium OXIDE... mentioned above. This is just... so wrong. Evidence of a predatory ethic not in the healthy individual's interest, you know?
Doctors do this, I suspect, because their very existence is propped up by the notion that inorganic and artificial are just as good, or better, than organic and natural. This too is... just wrong and more evidence of malfeasance. 
Back to the chelates... I feel most holistic types agree that any of the three organic chelation forms are much better absorbed. As for the disagreement concerning which organic type is best - I will save that discussion for a subsequent paper. Additionally, even as I report that I personally prefer amino acid chelation, I must add that chelation is a very convoluted, contentious, and not a real well researched subject.
But consider, reader, the consequences of the mainstream medical approach supporting what is determined to be deceptive labeling,  false advertising...not to mention, pushing the inferior forms of chelation!  Osteoporosis, a ready example of many, is out of control in this country as an oblique result, and suffered by many!
This is because most people, women in particular, are not consuming, or more accurately, absorbing, nearly enough Elemental Calcium/Magnesium (Cal/Mag) from their diets. This is true even (especially, actually!) if they eat dairy and or take Doctor recommended supplemental calcium like Caltrate or OsCal.
First, Supplements:
All grocery store Calcium supplements, and even many health food store supplements, mislead buyers concerning labeling amounts. In the initial example, each tablet contains 1000 mg of Calcium Carbonate -- the 1000 mg is the total weight of the E.Cal. plus the weight of the Carbonate. The percentage of usable E.Cal. in Calcium Carbonate is 40%. So, each 1000 mg tablet only has 400 mg of actual, usable E.Cal. The other 600mg is the carbonate. 
Another example of essentially the same thing but even more deceptive... consider the label which says **Calcium...1000mg** - by leaving off the word "carbonate" you are even more apt to think this is actually 1000mg of USABLE Calcium. but if you look down below the 'Supplement Facts' box, in very fine print, all crammed together with any & all of the other ingredients, you will find the forms like Calcium 'CARBONATE' listed. The form Carbonate should be clearly listed up in the Supp-Facts box, not hidden down in the other ingredients ...so again you are getting 400mg of E.Cal, not 1000mg. Real truth in advertising? Your leg's not wet 'cause it's rainin' reader!
Now, many of the supplements in a health food store also use this deceptive labeling. The problem is that even if you are aware of this tricky but LEGAL labeling policy, you have the added burden of remembering roughly the calcium content of the various forms... ie, the most popular organic form, citrate, is 25% E.Cal. -- Amino acid chelation (AAC), the form I prefer, is only 20% E.Cal.-- and the other most widely used form, gluconate, is only 10% E.Cal.
Armed with this knowledge, you might assume the Cal. carbonate at 40% (calcium) is superior to AA chelation at only 20% (calcium)... but not so fast! Let's focus this. 
Actually, the inorganic salt, carbonate, neutralizes a required stomach acid. Strike one. Among many key physiological requirements and ratios, stomach acid is desperately needed for absorption of ALL minerals. Strike two. TUMS (tm) is calcium carbonate because the carbonate degrades the acid required to absorb the calcium... then you're told said TUMS is "a good source of calcium." Strike three.  
Upon their expiration (death) and because they MUST know the difference? I suspect Special-Hell-Intensity-Training awaits Doctors who tell patients TUMS is a "good" source of calcium...  "Butt-Surfing" on the "Lake of Fire" might be provided as a cross-training activity? I digress.
Back at the ranch, these negative characteristics mean that Cal. Carbonate is by far the least absorbable form -- probable WAY less than 10% depending on who you believe. On the other hand the 20% E.Cal. in the AA chelation is very well absorbed (likely about 90%). Less is more!
Strangely enough, even though I prefer Amino Acid chelation, I also take calcium citrate. This is because unlike most other forms of calcium that need to be taken with food (they require stomach acid) calcium citrate can be taken with or without food because it is 'pre-acidified', so facilitates breaking the required dose of E-cal into preferred multiple doses one can take throughout the day. See? This unique pre-acidified characteristic is helpful because one can usually only absorb about 500 mg of E.Cal. per dose! 
So it is important to divide your Cal (and to a lesser degree your Magnesium) into 2, 3 or 4 smaller doses...the Citrate form comes in handy if you miss taking your Cal (AAC) at mealtime, you can take a dose of Citrate between meals... still, Doctor Zorba Pasture on NPR says all you have to do is take one large calcium carbonate tablet a day! I live to hear the "bone-headed" things that come out of Docca Zorbie's mouth.
If you take too much Calcium (and to a slightly lesser degree, Magnesium) at once, it will cause your body pH to rise, which might try to change your blood pH, but your blood pH WILL NOT change because even a small change will kill you instantly! The body is quick to dump calcium & other minerals to check the rise in alkalinity. Consequently, Don't worry about overdose.
This process also works in the other direction...if you are too acidic (not enough calcium & other minerals) your body will leach minerals from your bones (bone-loss) to raise the alkalinity.
Next, Dairy...
The TV commercials say a woman needs 1200 mg of Calcium (Cal) a day. And, to accomplish this she should consume 400 mg of Cal. in milk/cereal, 400 mg of Cal. in yogurt/cheese for lunch, and for supper, 400 mg cheese pizza... for a total of 1200 mg of Cal. Yikes -- this is so misleading!
You may put 1200 mg of dairy calcium in your mouth, but you will be lucky to actually absorb a third of it into your system (and I think I'm being generous)! This is primarily because dairy contains too little magnesium needed at the proper ratio to absorb the calcium.
Most would agree that a minimum amount of Mag in the Cal. to Mag Ratio is 2 to 1. However, many respected holistic practitioners like Dr. Mercola <>www.mercola.com think the ratio should be closer to 1 to 1... and some, like one of my favorite people, the Leaf Lady (<>www.leaflady.org) thinks the cal/mag ratio should be reversed...1 to 2, not 2 to 1... you need more magnesium in your life, Folks !
...So milk, at a cal/mag ratio of 10 to 1, has a problem. It "doesn't get there from here," by an order of magnitude...
Some supplements come at the higher 1 to 1 ratio (although 90% are at the 2 to1 ratio); however, the increased Mag (at 1to1 cal/mag ratio) can cause some to get diarrhea, this usually only happens if it is in the inorganic salt form magnesium OXIDE. That's the price, et al, of the inferior form.
For adults I maintain that dairy is generally an inefficient and unhealthful way to get calcium, at best! In other words if you need a little dairy for some particular recipe & it's something you really like... do it because you like it, but don't do it for the calcium. It's not happening.
For children it is even more imperative that you keep them away from pasteurized dairy products, believe it or NOT!  Milk in particular! 
I'm offering a small 10 dollar wager (I'm not a bloated gold-plated-bathroom-fixture MD, or equally porcine pharmaceutical executive)... ...If your child has lots of ear and upper respiratory infections, colds, allergic reactions, etc, and they start every day with milk, sugar, and cereal? Well, I bet if you switched to eggs, meat, vegetables and a small amount of fruit (NO fruit juices), these ailments would virtually disappear. Of course the benefits of this breakfast change can be dramatically negated if allowed to consume massive quantities of refined carbo snacks, sodas, and sweets throughout the rest of the day. Sincerely, the diet diminishes you and undercuts your kid's potential!
Consider, why is it that my mother and many other old ladies are bent over double with osteoporosis... even after they ate plenty of dairy and took the doctor recommended calcium supplements most of their adult life?
...Could it be *they* know that dairy (and most doctor recommended calcium supp's) are not a good source of calcium... but they tell you they are because they don't really want the "calcium" to stave off osteoporosis... they would much rather sell you Fosamax (tm) instead?
Have you seen Sally Field's (heavy sigh) latest abomination "Boniva" commercial? She idiotically opines (with a straight face, I might add)..."My girlfriend has to set aside time once a week to take her Osteoporosis medicine...then I told her about 'once-a-month' Boniva and she said - I could do that." 
You mean setting aside 20 seconds a week is just too big a hassle...so I guess asking you to take several quality Cal/Mag capsules 2 or 3 times daily would be completely beyond your capability! I'd be way out of line for even suggesting such a ludicrous regimen... when there is 'once-a-month' Boniva waiting in the wings to solve all these critical time issues regarding seconds here and there...
Can you get an appreciation for how stupid they think you are reader?
And Sally! Did you tell your "girlfriends" about "Phossy-Jaw" ? ...where these bisphosphonates (Fosamax, Boniva) can cause "Bone-death" of the jawbone, leaving the women's face horribly disfigured? hummm... forgot to mention that, didja ?
Getting back to label amounts -- a small number of mineral manufactures make a noteworthy attempt at showing the amount of usable E.Cal. The following examples start with the 'clearest' and descends to the 'silliest'...
1. **Elemental Calcium... 250 mg (from 1000 mg of Calcium Citrate)** -- this is impossible to misunderstand. Even if you only read the first half, you get the info you need -- the amount of E.Cal. at 250mg.
2. **Calcium ... 250 mg (from 1000 mg of Calcium Citrate)** -- this leaves off the word Elemental , but that's OK because the 250mg is implied to be the Elemental by mentioning the amount of Calcium Citrate at 1000mg.  Again -- if you only read the first half you get the amount of E.Cal, (250mg) even if the word "elemental" is missing.
3. **Elemental Calcium... 250 mg (from Calcium Citrate)** -- this leaves off the 1000 mg, but you don't really need to know the amount of Cal. Citrate, as long as the first half tells you the amount of E.Cal. at 250mg.
OK, here they start going wrong :
4. **Calcium Citrate... 1000mg (containing 250 mg of E.Cal.)** -- this example shows everything you need to know, but by reversing the order it can cause confusion if you only read the first half (Calcium Citrate...1000mg). You might walk away thinking you're getting 1000 mg of usable calcium, when you are actually getting 250mg of E.Cal. that is only revealed in the second half of the blurb.
5. There are some manufacturers that have inexpensive, quality products, but have really confusing labels -- like Nature's Way: **Zinc (as Zinc Citrate)... 30mg**. Does this mean 30 mg of Elemental Zinc or 30 mg of Zinc Citrate? I think they mean 30 mg of Elemental Zinc -- so I would rearrange it and change the word "as" to "from". **Zinc... 30mg (from Zinc Citrate)**. Ok... now it makes a little more sense.
6. Here is the silliest example yet that I found on 'LIFEtime' liquid Cal/Mag sold by Puritan's Pride and many others... **Calcium (as Citrate Elemental)... 600 mg** This makes no sense -- treating 'Citrate Elemental' as two logically connected words on the label is the same as treating a 'Soup Sandwich' as two logically connected words on a menu. Elemental applies to the element Calcium, not the substance Citrate. This may be a wonderful product; however, I'm begging you to never buy it for one really big reason -- I spent 40 minutes of my life on the phone trying to determine if the 600 mg was Elemental Calcium or Calcium Citrate. I was not successful -- I still don't know. Consequently I want to punish them for insulting my intelligence and wasting my time.
7. Here is another "Law of perversity of nature" that ranks right up there with the universal law saying "the other line at the store always moves faster -- until you get in that line... then the line you left moves faster." If a supplement label only says **Calcium... 1000mg** and the form is nowhere else on the label, it is ALWAYS Calcium CARBONATE! This is because it is the inferior form, so they want to hide that fact. If it were the more expensive form they would proudly put it on the label -- shout it from the roof-tops!  
...Life seems mostly about what you are NOT told, eh reader?
Another note to my Black friends -- African Americans are several times as likely to have high blood pressure. And what do you suppose is the most important supplemental complex for this condition? That's right! Calcium and Magnesium (especially Mag)! Unfortunately there's a problem. Even if a conscientious Black woman knows the following 2 things.
1. Dairy is a poor source of Cal/Mag.
2. Cal. CARBONATE and Mag. OXIDE are very poorly absorbed.
Here's the problem... why does she still have high BP and the early signs of osteoporosis? Most Dark-skinned people in the US are Vitamin D deficient because they don't make much, if any, Vitamin D-3 from the sun, and Vit. D is necessary for calcium absorption. People of color should take oil-filled, soft-gels of Cholecalciferol (Vit.D-3) or take Cod Liver Oil soft-gels which also provides natural Vit.A & the powerful Omega-3s, EPA & DHA.
Closing out, the recommended amount of 400iu of Vit.D-3 is woefully inadequate... people should get 1000 to 1200iu daily in divided doses. By the way, the Vit. D in probably 98% of the milk in the US uses the inferior Vit.D-2 instead of D-3 (Sun, fish, quality supplements). I suspect you are something less than surprised by now...
'Till next time -- question everything! Your life depends on it.
Well be.
Alan Graham
Phone -- (334) 774 0395



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