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How Hormones Regulate Calcium

The human body contains more than 2.2 pounds of calcium, mostly in the bones. As most people know, calcium is vital for human health. 

In fact, it is such an important mineral that our bodies are designed to use various hormones to ensure adequate calcium levels in both the bloodstream and the bones. 

The hormones responsible for maintaining calcium levels include vitamin D, calcitonin, and parathyroid hormone. 

Specifically, vitamin D enhances absorption of calcium from the gastrointestinal tract; calcitonin stimulates the absorption of calcium into bones; and parathyroid hormone causes calcium to be released by the bones. 

The complex interplay between these three hormones are responsible for ensuring: 

• Adequate calcium absorption

• Integration of calcium into the bones

• Normal serum calcium levels

Parathyroid hormone — which is secreted by the parathyroid glands — increases the concentration of calcium in the bloodstream by releasing calcium from the bones. This process is called “bone resorption.” 

In the kidneys, parathyroid increases reabsorption of calcium. In other words, it decreases calcium excretion in the urine. 

Hyperparathyroidism — an excess of parathyroid hormone — is known to cause both osteopenia and osteoporosis. In treating osteoporosis, it is important to closely monitor parathyroid hormone levels. 

It should be supplemented only when levels are very low. 

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Vitamin Supplements

This article appeared in the first Johns Hopkins Health Review  

“Save your money—and possibly your good health—by skipping the vitamin supplements. Study after study has shown that taking vitamins won’t stave off chronic diseases or untimely death. So from a medicinal perspective, there is no reason for well-fed people to take them, according to researchers at Johns Hopkins and several other institutions. It’s not just that the experts have deemed vitamins useless: They’ve also determined that taking bonus beta-carotene, vitamin E, and vitamin A may contribute to a heightened risk of death. For many lifetime vitamin poppers, this news is hard to swallow. After all, mom doled out that chalky, vaguely fruity multivitamin tablet every morning as part of a nutritious breakfast. It’s time to cast sentimentality aside because the facts show that vitamins are not a magic bullet, even though they might be shaped like one.” 

So what is well fed, good life style?  The “Garden of Eden” would be a great choice – full body sunshine, nothing but greens and citrus, and no stress.  Since we are not in Eden, consider taking 1000-2000 units of vitamin D3 daily (full body sunshine), 1mg (1000 ug) Folic Acid (vegetarian diet), 500 unit of vitamin C (citrus), and sublingual B12 only if it is low (compensation for stress).  A normal diet contains more than enough calcium, making calcium tablets useless, possibly increasing risks for kidney stones.   

I check levels of vitamin D, Vitamin B12 and Vitamin B9 (Folic Acid) in most of my patients and more often than not the vitamin D level is low and the Folate level is low normal.  B12 varies and often is at a low normal level.  So, without checking to see if you need any vitamins at all, consider supplementing D3, C, Folate, and B12.