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Cal/Mag Constipation & Diverticulitis
By Alan Graham
With Alfred Lehmberg
Is anyone surprised? NPR's medical advice guy, Dr. Zorba Paster, once again publically prosecutes his complete lack of understanding when it comes to supplemental & nutritional advice. This is most currently evidenced by the following 2 ladies calling in to the facile fatuousness that is Paster's PBS program, recently.
To wit: The 1st women caller said she was taking 1200mg of Calcium & Vit.D but that the Cal. was causing her some constipation. She also said that she had heard she should take Magnesium to counter these negative effects but she couldn't remember how much or what kind they'd said she was to take.
Zorba essentially said that for constipation she could take "Milk of Magnesia." Reader! This product uses a very harsh magnesium hydroxide that should be taken rarely, and only as a temporary therapy, (read the label); however, his main recommendation was that she try a couple of different Forms of Calcium, like carbonate or citrate & to increase her Vit.D.
Actually the preceding advice could help a little if she changed from the inferior Cal-Carbonate (the crap in TUMS) to the superior Cal-Citrate... but even that is not the definitive answer.
Anyway, in a subsequent show, he told another lady there was no difference between Calcium-Carbonate & Calcium-Citrate (there is in fact, a big difference) and that she should take 1500mg of Calcium, but, dangerously, he never even mentioned that you also need Magnesium -plus several other things, for that matter- required for the calcium supplementation to work in the first place!
Gee, where to begin...
1..You never want to take a big wasteful and unhealthful 1200 to 1500mg single dose of calcium like Zorbie recommends, regardless -assuredly if it is the inferior Carbonate-but especially not without taking all the things necessary to help Calcium Absorption in the first place. Unfortunately, these things to which I allude are not ordinarily found in sufficient amounts in our modern diet... starting with an adequate measure of Organically Chelated Magnesium. Chelated, by the way, means "Bound-To".
Here are some common misconceptions regarding Calcium & Magnesium:
Misconception #1 - Virtually all combination products of Calcium & Magnesium come at a 2to1 ratio, suggesting that 2to1 is Mother-nature's desired ratio... WRONG!
Even though virtually every Cal/Mag Complex will be at a ratio of 2 to1, this is largely arbitrary and motivated by trying to avoid the cause of diarrhea facilitated by their Complexes use of the inferior Mag-Oxide. See, the truth is we need more good (in the appropriate form) Magnesium in our lives! More & more of the top holistic practitioners -like #1 rated mercola.com & LeafLady.org- feel the ratio should be more like 1to1 or even higher! In truth, at a 2to1 Cal/Mag ratio, you don't get enough Magnesium!
This lower Mag ratio of (2to1) was started years ago when most all Cal/Mag Complexes used the harsh (diarrhea-causing) INorganic-salt forms of Magnesium... Mag-Oxide or Mag-Hydroxide as I said before. Much of this Diarrhea-causing effect can be reduced by using an Organic Chelation form of Magnesium, like Citrate, Kreb's Cycle or AAC (Amino-Acid Chelated).
Simple Physics
The Cal/Mag connection, like everything, actually, is simple physics, reader! Calcium makes muscles contract & can cause constipation if taken in large doses without adequate Magnesium to counter same! This is especially true if it is the inferior Cal-Carbonate form (the CRAP in TUMS). I hate the whole idea of TUMS; had you guessed?
Magnesium, on the other hand makes muscles relax so it can induce diarrhea! Again, if taken in large doses w/o Calcium, and especially if Mag-Oxide or Mag-Hydroxide is used, diarrhea is often the result.
Remember too that both effects (constipation & diarrhea) are heavily influenced by what the actual Element -the Calcium atom or Magnesium atom- is CHELATED to or Bound to... even though Dr. Z says "it doesn't matter."
For example Mag-Oxide & Mag-Hydroxide (the stuff in Milk of Magnesia), being INorganic & not so readily absorbed, will induce Diarrhea (D) at a smaller dose. However the other end of the spectrum is Organic Mag-Gluconate which will not likely induce D, at all, unless you took a tremendous dose all at once (w/o Calcium!).
With this in mind, I recommend a Magnesium that is sort of "in-the-middle"...Magnesium-Citrate. It is not harsh like the Hydroxide found in Milk of Magnesia - but like all Magnesium, it will loosen you up if you take a sufficient amount daily.
In fact, the woman above should try a pure Magnesium-Citrate Powder (a teaspoon at a time in liquid, throughout the day)... being in a powder form will also help loosen the bowel more readily than a Magnesium tablet. The powder tastes great in green, herbal, or yerba mate teas because it has a slight citrus taste...in fact sometimes I make fake lemonade & just throw a spoonful of Magnesium powder in with some Stevia or Xylitol (sweeteners) & a quart of ice water.
I would also switch to a more easily absorbed Calcium that is organically Chelated like Citrate, Kreb's Cycle or AAC (Amino-Acid Chelated). Additionally, I would avoid INorganic Salts like Cal-Carbonate (TUMS) which destroy the very stomach acid that is needed in copious amounts to absorb the minerals consumed, at all!
So, I'm sorry Dr. Z ... there is a BIG difference between the utilization of Calcium bound to Citrate as opposed to Calcium bound to cheap Carbonate. On this issue the good Doctor needs to stand up or step off...you see...
(a)..Calcium-Carbonate is TUMS...TUMS destroys stomach-acid...stomach-acid is needed to absorb Calcium... are we clear?
(b)..Calcium-Citrate, on the other healthier hand, is Pre-acidified... pre-acidified means it brings its own acidic-stuff necessary to be absorbed - so it can be taken with or w/o food.
Misconception #2 - You must have both Cal & Mag... yes that is true... BUT -
...They don't have to be taken together! They only have to be taken within the same 24 hour period.
Consider, both Calcium & Magnesium compete for absorption! If you take a Cal/Mag complex you must take small doses to avoid waste by taking too much of both, all at once. I recommend 2 doses of 400mg Cal & 400mg Mag. Of course, the problem here is that very few Complexes come at this 1to1 ratio (400mg Cal-400mg Mag).
See? You either have to take a complex at 2to1 ratio (400mg Cal-200mg Mag) & then take additional Mag separately or just take both Cal & Mag separately right from the get-go.
There are a couple of Cal/Mag Complexes at a 1to1 ratio in powder form out there, but they are rare.
Misconception #3 - Taking more Calcium means you absorb more Calcium...WRONG
In fact, it can work the exact opposite. Taking a big 1000mg dose of ALKALINE Calcium, all at once (like I've heard Dr. Z recommend), especially if you also take a big dose of ALKALINE Magnesium with it, will rapidly make your body too alkaline, necessitating the kidneys to dump alkaline minerals overboard so as to re-achieve chemical balance. Smaller, divided doses are the key.
I would also reduce the amount of Cal-Citrate from 1500mg, down to about 800mg & then after a week or so of playing around with increasing amounts of Mag-powder - you should -safely- get your bowel movements to the comfort-level you desire! Don't be surprised if that amount of Mag-Citrate powder turns out to be about 800mg to 1000mg... which is perfect !! BUT, if it takes more...then take more.
Consider too, taking those big 1500mg doses of calcium (especially Cal-Carbonate) can actually contribute to Kidney Stones & Heel-Spurs. So take less Calcium, BUT more of the things that help absorb the Calcium you do take...like more Magnesium.
FYI : One big advantage to taking Cal & Mag separately (as opposed to a Cal/Mag Complex) is you can save about 400mg of Mag to take, by itself, right at bedtime to help you relax, (remember Mag relaxes muscles). Also during the night it will fizzle around the Intestinal Villi lining your gut so you have... that "refreshing" morning "constitutional."
Be prepared for your life to improve dramatically. The above will not only fix the constipation problem but help you absorb more Calcium to avoid Bone-loss! The extra Magnesium will lower your blood-pressure and protect your heart & brain. More Magnesium is a win/win therapy.
Diverticulitis :
After decades of low-fiber induced constipation, a person (like yours truly) can easily develop small Diverticula pouches in the gut which never go away BUT may never be a problem if you keep the gut clean with the aforementioned fiber & Magnesium.
It remains, though, that if the pouches become perforated & inflamed, it becomes the painful condition Diverticulitis. The Mag-Citrate powder's bowel-cleansing, fizzle-effect is a good thing for Diverticulitis or to just keep the Diverticula pouches clean if you happen to have that very, very common condition, (most old geezers have them). This supplemental approach with the best mineral form can keep these pouches from ever becoming inflamed and then turning into full-blown Diverticulitis.
In fact I think that a person should use an improvised poor-man's bowel-cleanse, which is safe - actually healthful! In short, about every 2 weeks you take an extra large dose of powdered Mag (optional is a few grams of powdered Vit.C thrown in) to purposely induce Diarrhea.
Everyone's "bowel tolerance" is different so you might need to experiment with ever increasing doses until you get the desired results. Don't worry about over-doing it, because if you take too much, it will just "blow you out" that much quicker... but it won't hurt you.
The same thing CANNOT be said for the typical chemical Laxatives.
These chemical abominations can provide the situation where your poor gut works properly ONLY when you take the chemicals... how convenient for the laxative manufacturer, eh? This is criminal, in my opinion.
Finally, I would also take a double or triple dose of Probiotics (beneficial Gut-Bacteria) for 2 or 3 days after a self-induced Magnesium-Bowel-Cleanse... beneficial but not necessary.
To recap:
1. Take LESS Calcium...about 800mg of something other than Cal-Carbonate - like Citrate/Malate/Lactate/Gluconate/Kreb's Cycle or AAC(Amino-Acid Chelated).
2. Take MORE Magnesium...about 800mg of something other than Mag-Oxide or Hydroxide - like Citrate or AAC.
3. You also need many things not found (or too little) in most Multi's :
(a). More Vit.D-3 -- at least 1000iu, most multi's only have 400iu. "GET MORE SUN AT HIGH NOON"
(b). Boron -- you need 2 or 3mg of AAC Boron.
(c). Silica -- about 5mg from bamboo or horsetail.
(d). Potassium - take about 800mg in 2 divided doses of 400mg.
This is the equivalent of 2 small bananas. A person needs between 2000 & 2500mg BUT you should not just take that amount supplementally...it could be TOO MUCH & have a toxic effect...so 800mg is a good compromise.
(e). 70+ Trace Minerals -- I like colloidal Trace Minerals with the toxic minerals, like mercury, removed. You need dozens of these trace minerals as co-factors for utilization of Calcium.
(f). A quality Multivitamin with all the rest of the nutrients needed for Cal/Mag utilization.
4. AVOID... like the PLAGUE: Sugar, white flour, Soy, TUMS & ALL carbonated drinks.
Remember, your gut is your most important organ. You can keep a weak heart ticking along with a perfectly-tuned gut & good nutrition <<BUT>> it is difficult to keep a strong heart, strong, for very long with a sick gut & the resulting poor nutrition.
It's simple Physics, Folks. Really !
Alan Graham
That's enough. Well be.
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