I am not interested in taking calcium supplements. There is a little calcium in the multi that I take but very little. They can’t put much calcium in a multi because it would fill up the multi with calcium and leave little room for anything else. So, most multis have little or none. And that’s fine with me because I am not interested in consuming a lot of calcium. I don’t think I need to.
When the government recommends that you get 1000 mgs of calcium every day, they do so on the expectation that you will absorb about 20% of it. The rest passes right through your system. But when you consume less calcium and particularly a low amount of calcium, your body cranks up all the mechanisms by which you absorb and retain calcium. So, you might actually wind up absorbing just as much. But, even if you don’t, you might be better off because calcium is involved with a lot of pathologies. For instance, when they speak of “hardening of the arteries” it’s calcium that they are talking about. It's calcium that makes your arteries hard. Doctors consider the most reliable indicator of clogged coronary arteries to be the coronary calcium CT scan. I don’t recommend it because it involves a lot of ionizing radiation. But still, it is measuring calcium in the heart and it is telling doctors that your arteries are clogged.
So, calcium gets deposited in arteries, and it is no damn good when that happens because it is an end-stage process. The original clog was soft: an atheroma made of cholesterol and other things. Calcium enters the process late in the game. And it is not easy getting it out. Some people undergo intravenous chelation therapy to pull calcium out of arteries, but I really don't know how effective it is. Calcium can also get deposited in organs and tissues. Look what happens to the pineal gland. In my most people, it becomes completely calcified. Calcium can be deposited in the skin causing wrinkles. It can get deposited at the ends of tendons causing calcific tendonitis. Of course, everyone knows of the havoc that calcium can play within the urinary system. Most kidney stones are calcium based.
The truth is that calcium is as much associated with disease as with health. But, don’t you need a lot of calcium for your bones to prevent osteoporosis? First of all, osteoporosis is not fundamentally a disease of calcium deficiency. The loss of bone calcium in osteoporosis is secondary to the loss of bone protein. Osteoporosis is more like sarcopenia, which is age-related muscle loss. Again: the loss of calcium is secondary, and plying the body with calcium to prevent or ameliorate osteoporosis involves a lot of wishful thinking.
If a person wants to, they can get a heck of a lot of calcium from food alone without taking supplements and even without eating dairy. But, it would involve eating voluminous amounts of vegetables like collards, kale, broccoli, bok-choy, etc. I eat those foods, and I make a point of it, but I’m not going to tell you that I eat them in prodigious amounts. I eat them in moderate amounts. It gets rather gassy if you eat a whole pot-ful of kale. And I would not be inclined to do it because I’m just not worried about the calcium.
So, how am I doing on my relatively low calcium intake? I am pretty sure I am doing OK, and here is what I am going by:
1) My height: I never had a whole heck of a lot of it, but neither have I lost very much. I may have lost a small fraction of an inch, but that’s all. I mean no more than half an inch from my top height. And that is fantastic for a man who is 66 years old. I meet people my age all the time who have lost at least one inch, and maybe two inches or even three inches. So, I think I am doing very well that way.
2) My teeth: They’re holding up. I am not getting new cavities. My gums are healthy. I haven’t suffered any tooth fractures. I have do have enamel erosion from acid foods and whatnot. And I have definitely been a tooth grinder in my sleep. I haven’t gotten one of those mouthguards, though I probably should. But overall, I am doing well with my teeth.
My blood level of calcium has always been normal, but that doesn’t mean much because there are hormones and Vitamin D that maintain that regardless of what your level of calcium consumption is. And I do take Vitamin D3 which helps me absorb calcium. I don’t think I am suffering at all from too little calcium, and I think the government’s requirements are too high.Think about it from the standpoint of human history. For most of human history, people ate no dairy. That’s a relatively recent development. And even after dairying started, it only affected a relatively small percentage of people. Asia, for instance, has never had a dairying tradition. So, without dairy, where did they get calcium? There are leafy greens, as I mentioned, but it doesn’t seem likely that primitive people would have eaten voluminous amounts of them. Some amount yes, but it’s low density food; density in terms of calories; and back then, it wasn’t about avoiding and restricting calories but getting them. So, I have no reason to think that primitive people consumed high calcium diets. They certainly didn’t get 1000 mgs a day.
So how much should I and others get? I am inclined to think that 400 mgs would fine if all the other things are positive favorable, such as: getting enough physical activity and sunlight, eating whole natural foods; maintaining optimal Vitamin D levels (which is really only possible with supplements) and maintaining good digestive health so that your absorption is good. If you’ve got all those things going for you, then yes, 400 mgs of calcium a day is plenty sufficient.
But, what about a short, petite, small-boned woman? Shouldn’t she take a lot of calcium? Well even in her case, I wouldn’t recommend going higher than 400 mgs of calcium a day in supplement form. Enough is enough. I know of no evidence that more is better. And again, I repeat: osteoporosis is fundamentally a disease of bone protein wasting; and the loss of calcium from the bone is secondary.
Every time you consume calcium, you need to ask yourself: Where is this calcium going? You can’t just assume it’s going into your bones. Maybe some of it will, but if some is going to go into your arteries and organs and skin, then you need to think about how much you are ingesting, and erring on the side of less may be safer than erring on the side of more.
A very petite and attractive young woman, who was a competitive bodybuilder, died in Australia. She was found in a coma in her apartment, and when she was rushed to the hospital, doctors found that her system was overwhelmed with ammonia, which of course is deadly. They discovered that she had an undiagnosed disorder called urea cycle disorder.
First, let's review some biochemistry. You know that proteins consist of long complex chains of amino acids. And amino acids consist of carbon chains with the addition of an acid radical and a nitrogen radical: NH2. In breaking amino acids down, the body breaks off the NH2 which becomes NH3, free ammonia, which is highly toxic. But, very rapidly, the body takes two molecules of NH3 and one molecule of carbon dioxide C02 and forms a new substance known as urea. Urea is relatively non-toxic. It is not "hot" the way ammonia is. And in the form of urea, the spent nitrogen is safely excreted by the kidneys.
In urea cycle disorder, the enzyme that converts ammonia to urea is lacking; it is deficient. There are different degrees of severity in this disorder. In her case, it must have been relatively mild since she was never diagnosed. So, she had never previously endured a crisis, and she was completely unaware that she had the disorder. But, she apparently started eating a very high protein diet and also taking protein supplements, and it was just too much. It was overwhelming. The ammonia starting accumulating in her blood, and it poisoned her brain, putting her into a coma, and ultimately, she died.
It's a terrible tragedy for her and her loved ones, particularly her children. And I realize that most people don't have urea cycle disorder. However, we should still learn a lesson from it, that excess protein places a strain on the body that can actually kill.
I saw the images of this woman, and she she looked fit and very cute and not actually bulging with muscles. She looked well toned and sculpted, but her muscles did not look particularly large. She still looked very feminine. My point is that she could have acquired and maintained that degree of muscularity, which she had, with just an ordinary amount of protein.
I am presently a 66 year old man, and I am most certainly NOT trying to enlarge my muscles. However, I would very much like to hold on to the muscles that I have and the amount of strength that have. And I think I can do that without loading protein. Just through healthy eating in general with moderate protein consumption (and I prefer plant proteins like nuts and beans) and by exercising and also keeping my DHEA level up, I expect to do that well into my 70s. And again, I am not making any effort at all to consume more protein.
The U.S. government recommends 56 grams of protein today for the average adult male, which works out to right about 2 ounces a day. That means from all the foods I eat, I only have to get 2 ounces of protein to meet my daily requirement. However, even that includes a bit of a premium. Odds are very great that even 45 grams would be enough.
When you consume less protein, the body slows the rate at which it is broken down. And in my case, I have been eating the way I do for so long, my body is completely used to it and totally adapted to it. I am lean, but I am actually more muscular than the average 66 year old male, and I am maintaining that muscle without meat, dairy, fish, eating mostly fruits, vegetables, green salads, raw nuts, and beans. So, what are the chances that that tiny little woman needed vast amounts of protein? She didn't.
When people do that- eat vast amounts of protein- most of it doesn't even get used as protein. Most of it is not turned into muscle. Most of it is just broken down by the liver and kidneys, and at a burden to those organs.
Basically, if you are eating unprocessed natural foods with reasonable variety, and you are getting enough food, that is, enough calories, you will automatically get enough protein. You don't even have to worry about it.
There is only 1 percent protein content to human breast milk- the lowest protein content of any mammalian milk by far- and yet human babies can double their weight on it in 6 months. And they are putting on protein in the form of muscle, bone, etc. The fact is that humans are really not adapted to a high protein diet. And it doesn't matter that some of our pre-historic ancestors ate that way. They had to. They were living through an ice age, and there was little or no plant around for most of the year. So, just because they had to do it doesn't mean that we should do it when food is plentiful for us throughout the year even in the far north.
I even have a friend here in Austin who is a dentist, and he is also a triathlete. And he happens to adhere to the paleo concept. However, he even knows that too much protein is dangerous. So, what he does is emphasize fats and keeps his protein intake moderate. He knows he does not need a lot of protein to perform athletically.
So, let us all learn something from the tragic death of this young woman. Let's just assume that we all have a touch of urea cycle disorder.
In February 2017, the British Medical Journal published the largest meta-analysis ever showing that Vitamin D does protect against colds and flus. The head of the project, Professor Adrin Martineau, said that they found that Vitamin D was more effective at preventing the flu than flu shots are. I wonder if he thought about how politically incorrect it was to say that.
Fortunately, I have NEVER had a flu shot. I wish I could say I have never had any shots, but I do remember being vaccinated as a child. I remember the polio- vaccine-laced sugar cubes they distributed to us in the 1st grade. I can still see the tray in my mind with those neatly arranged sugar cubes. And I’m sure I had whatever other vaccines were administered in the 1950s, although it was much fewer than they have today.
But, I would never consider having a flu shot- even if I knew in advance that I had to suffer through the flu. I’d rather suffer through it. But, the fact is that I haven’t had the flu in so long, I can’t remember the last time I had it. It’s been a lot of years. Maybe I had it in the 1990s. I definitely haven’t had it in the 21st century.
And for a long time I have been taking 5000 IUs of Vitamin D3 every day. Do I think it’s helped me stay well? Yes, I do.
I am going to have my blood level of Vitamin D tested next month, as I do every April. I do a whole panel of blood tests every April; it’s very comprehensive. And if you’re interested, I order it from the Life Extension Foundation in Florida. It costs about $300, but they check everything, including your hormone levels. It’s called the Male Panel, and their phone number is 800 544- 4440. I do it in April because that’s when they have a sale on it and offer the lowest price.
But usually, in the summer I reduce my frequency of taking Vitamin D to every other day, since there is a lot of sunshine, and I do get out in it.
But, I am a great believer in taking Vitamin D. You always want to take Vitamin D3 and never Vitamin D2, which is a pharmaceutical analogue of Vitamin D and not the real thing.
What else can you do to help prevent colds and flus?
Obviously, there is Vitamin C, which is very important. Eating a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables is the first and most important step. I think that taking a little more supplementally is fine to do, but I am thinking in the range of 500 mg to 1000 mg a day. I am not in favor of taking mega-doses along the lines of Linus Pauling, who took 20,000 mg a day. And, it’s not because I think it will hurt you but because I’m afraid your body will adapt to it and crank up all its mechanisms to block, degrade, and eliminate Vitamin C. So, you don’t want to condition yourself to a super-high dose. I would settle for the range that I suggested above.
Zinc has also been shown to be helpful in cold and flu prevention. But, I wouldn’t go higher than 30 milligrams a day in zinc. If you temporarily took more, say at the start of a cold or in the midst of a cold, that would be fine. But, on a regular, ongoing basis, I think 30 milligrams should be the top limit. Remember, there is also zinc in the food you are eating. In my case, I eat a lot of pecans which are loaded with zinc. They are one of the highest zinc foods on the planet, and probably the tastiest.
Beta-glucan is a substance that occurs in foods, a polysaccharide that has been shown to activate certain white blood cells known as macrophages. If you would like an example of a food that naturally contains beta-glucan here’s one: oatmeal. And, beta-glucan has been found to have a direct anti-viral effect. And it’s perfectly safe, so I don’t have any problem with anyone taking it. I don’t do it myself (although I do eat oatmeal) because I don’t seem to have much tendency to getting sick with colds and flu. But, if I did, I would take it.
And then finally I’ll mention the immune-boosting power of various medicinal mushrooms, such as Reishi mushrooms. I have been getting into this recently mainly because of the influence of my friend Dr. Joel Fuhrman who is a great believer in the value of mushrooms and has written about it. Keep in mind that the standard button mushroom that you commonly see in the supermarkets doesn’t qualify in this respect.
But, the things I do on a regular, daily basis is take Vitamin D3, and I take zinc, but only as part of my Core Multi from Prothera, not separately. And of course, I am eating a high fruit and vegetable diet and emphasizing other nutritious plant foods like raw nuts and cooked beans. Dark green leafy greens are also very important, such as kale and spinach. This is working for me.
They probably are, to some degree; you might as well face it. And I’m speaking to everybody who is middle-aged or older. And that includes me, and I’m 66.
I heard from a 60 year old man recently who said he went in for a routine EKG and stress test. He was not having any problems or symptoms or complaints. He had no history of heart disease. And he passed the treadmill test with flying colors. They could find nothing wrong in his readings. But afterwards, his heart didn’t slow back down and “recover” as fast as it should have. After 5 minutes of rest, his heart rate was still well over 100. They didn't like that. They took it as a very bad sign, even though there were no other bad indicators.
So, they sent him to a heart hospital for further testing, and what they found out through scans and other tests is that one of his coronary arteries was almost completely blocked. So, he was immediately treated with angioplasty, and a stent was put in.
Putting aside the question of how effective that is, I want to talk about how silent his heart disease was. If that was true of him, don’t you think that it’s likely that there are thousands of others out there who are like him, who have one or more blocked arteries in their heart and don’t know it? And, don’t you think the number could even be in the millions? I do.
I think it’s best to just assume that everybody who is middle-aged or older has some arterial plaque. And I’m sure that plenty of people who are young have some too. I’m sure there are children who have some as well. Just think of it as a universal affliction to which all humans are heir.
When I was 60, I had a carotid artery ultra-sound done, which measures the thickness of the carotid arteries, which carry blood to the brain. The radiologist told me afterwards, with glee, that I have the arteries of someone 20 years younger, so 40. Well, in that case, I definitely have some plaque because surely the average 40 year old does.
To age without developing some plaque may not even be possible. Or, if it is possible, it may be very rare. And the truth is that the body can tolerate some. I’ve read that an artery can be blocked by 2/3, and yet blood flow can still be considered normal, with little or no reduction in exercise capacity and other things.
My point in telling you all this is to make you realize that heart disease is a disease that you have to fight every day, all the time. Just assume you are heading towards it and have it to some degree already, but your goal is to slow down the progression of it and minimize it as much as possible. Having none is probably not a realistic expectation. But surely, if you do nothing, and just eat the same crap that most people eat, and be as lazy about exercise as most people are, and allow yourself to get fat, as most people do, then you should fully expect to develop heart disease and in a full-blown way. And if you add in some bad habits, such as smoking, then forget about it; it’s time to reduce the deductible on your medical insurance.
It’s true that heart disease is a silent disease- until something bad happens. You have to fight it every single day of your life by eating as healthily as you can, and keeping your body fat as low as possible, and exercising diligently and faithfully, and avoiding all bad habits. And if you do all that, you’re still likely to develop it some, but not to where it will ever cause you any recognizable trouble.