I get asked quite a bit whether calcium in water - especially spring water - is bad for you. People want to drink spring water but some spring water forms a white film when boiling in a pot (evidence of calcium) and sometimes mineral analysis of the water shows high calcium.
In this article I will attempt to answer this question, explaining different viewpoints by different nutritionists, doctors and researchers and presenting my own conclusions in the end.
I will also discuss whether calcium supplementation is needed and whether calcium from supplements can be absorbed and utilised by the human body. The findings are compared to David Wolfe's theory of bad calcium and the dangers of toxic calcium in the body.
Daniel Vitalis explains that we must understand the difference between true spring water that comes from an aquifer, and other types of natural water, such as surface water and well water, which often have higher levels of calcium. Most aquifers are not contaminated, according to Daniel Vitalis, and those that are, are usually close to agriculture or industry. Needless to say, Daniel Vitalis promotes true, clean spring water as the best type of water to drink.
David Wolfe, on the other hand, specifically recommends drinking low-calcium spring water.
Nevertheless, I have heard elsewhere that higher bioavailable calcium content in spring water may be good for health. In fact, there are plenty of websites that claim that limescale from hard water is not actually bad for you at all. However, this goes 100% against what David Wolfe has to say about calcification. Some forms of calcium are harder to utilise than others (less bioavailable), and nutrient deficiencies and other weaknesses of the body can can impair calcium utilization further. Personally I am not convinced that lime scale in tap water, for example, is anything but toxic.
Hippocrates Health Institute (HHI) states that calcium from milk is not bioavailable (i.e. can't be utilised by the body), because it is not paired with magnesium. They also state that drinking milk causes calcium to be pulled out of the bones to neutralize milk's acidity.
In trying to understand whether the calcium in spring water can be utilized by the body, I found a random research study online which showed that calcium from high-calcium mineral water was equally well absorbed as calcium from milk. However, considering the HHI statements about milk above, this may not be a very good result!
- 'Natural vs. Synthetic Vitamins, Part 5: Food Minerals vs. Mineral Salts' by Robert Thiel on You Tube
For the purposes of a plant, the water in the ground has calcium and other minerals suspended within it in ionic form - i.e. as particles that have a negative electrical charge. The plant is able to pick these ions up and transport them inside itself for utilization as nutrients.
On the other hand, ARL research labs, whose calcium supplements I have been taking as part of the Nutritional Balancing Programme based on hair mineral analysis, explains on their website (www.alrtma.com) that their calcium supplements - though not plant-derived - are bioavailable because they are chelated:
"Organic chelation is the natural process of building an amino acid, a peptide, or polypeptide fence around a specific metal [calcium is a metal] so that it is available for absorption and utilization within the body.
"There is considerable difference between chelated minerals and inorganic minerals. Chelated minerals consist of a mineral attached to an amino acid to assure better absorption than is possible with inorganic minerals."
More information on the types of calcium supplementation recommended by ARL Laboratories and their collaborator, Dr. Lawrence Wilson, here.
When calcium is carried in human blood, it can be carried as 'ionized calcium', which is 'free' calcium not attached to proteins, or it can be carried in the body as attached to proteins, in the form of 'bound' calcium. The chelated calcium supplements discussed above come as ready-attached to proteins and are, according to the manufacturer, thus more bioavailable. Both, the ionized 'free' form of calcium and the 'bound' form are important in the blood a balance between the two is needed.
However, both ionized and bound calcium have to be in a form that can be 'in solution' within blood, i.e. suspended within the liquid and easily transported. Eating egg-shells, pieces of limescale, or certain types of calcium supplements, thus, will probably not provide any beneficial effect because the body won't be able to break them down to be utilized. In fact it can be very dangerous and result in calcification and problems with the body's energy production.
Reading on some research published on the American Journal of Nutrition website, the bacteria balance of the gut may have a huge impact on how well calcium can be absorbed by the body. In addition, the research indicates that there are proteins in the intestines that can bind calcium. Most of the calcium in one research study was found the be absorbed from the intestine, once bound, which would seem to support the notion that the protein-binding of ionized calcium helps its absorption.
Linus Pauling Institute's research shows that calcium is an important nutrient but should not be consumed in excess, since high-calcium diets have been linked to diseases, such as prostate cancer and kidney stones. On the other hand, low calcium diets have been linked to PMS and other problems, whereas calcium supplementation has been shown to help.
They recommend that most of the calcium be consumed from foods because calcium in foods is accompanied by other important nutrients that assist the body in utilizing calcium. They recognise, however, that some people may require calcium supplementation in quantities that is not possible to get from food.
Based on these research findings, it would seem to me that - as always - the question of calcium is a question of balance, not too much and not too little. Some people will need more calcium than others.
One of the most important factors when it comes to calcium is whether the body can utilise it properly or not. It is possible that even the types of calcium that are more easily absorbed don't get utilised properly but get deposited in the soft tissues as bad calcium, as was happening in my case, according to the hair mineral analysis results. This results in calcification, which is very harmful and which David Wolfe and others speak against. Calcium deposits in different organs is unfortunately a common health problem these days.
The first and safest approach towards calcium would seem to be to ensure plenty of calcium from fresh, raw, plant-based foods: e.g. greens, ideally organic and grown in nutrient rich soil. Growing sprouts in a solution of 1 part seawater 20 parts water may also ensure better mineralisation of the sprouts.
Dr. Thompson, in his book 'The Calcium Lie', explains that overconsumption of calcium creates other mineral deficiencies and imbalances, increasing the risk of many diseases. He recommends taking ionic mineral supplements derived from sea water and fresh spring water, where the minerals are in balanced quantities in relation to each other. He is of the opinion that almost everyone needs trace minerals in supplementary form because vegetables and fruit these days are grown in nutrient-poor soils.
From my experience the chelated calcium supplements from ARL labs have seemed helpful in balancing my body, and I will probably take more of them if the next test result shows that I still need them. However, once the hair mineral analysis shows balanced calcium, magnesium and other mineral levels, I will stop supplementation and rely on spring water, sea or rock salt, possibly trace minerals in liquid form such as the solution made by Ambaya Gold, and organic vegetables and greens in their raw form in large quantities.
If your spring water has a high calcium content which worries you, perhaps you could filter it before drinking. A simple carbon filter, such as Brita, can filter out calcium from the water. The only downside may be that it also filters out magnesium, and possibly other minerals. Better solution, then, would be to find a source of spring water where the different mineral ratios are well-balanced to the body's needs.
Personally I wouldn't worry about the calcium content in otherwise good quality spring water but would concentrate on ensuring that my body's cells function optimally to maintain correct calcium levels.
Calcium Toxicity: How to ensure optimum calcium utilization by the body.
Cell Membrane Permeability: How calcium is linked to the metabolic (oxidation) rate.
Linus Pauling Institute: Micronutrient Information Center: Calcium
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Ulla is the Editor of Cheap Health Revolution, covering natural remedies and health solutions.