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September Series: All About Calcium

By The Paleo Diet Team
September 23, 2016
September Series: All About Calcium image

One of the biggest criticisms of the Paleo diet is that it typically has a lower daily calcium consumption than a “healthy” western diet. This is especially concerning to many Paleo critics who point out that osteoporosis is becoming one of the most common chronic conditions in the western world.

Calcium supplementation and milk consumption have become so ingrained as part of “healthy living” that it’s hard to leave your doctor's office without a blood pressure test, a heart rhythm check, and a calcium prescription.

Yet, despite this huge focus on increasing our calcium intake, there seems to be little impact on osteoporosis development or fracture risk.1

In fact, recent research is showing that calcium supplementation may actually increase the risk of heart disease.2

As we've pointed out before at, calcium levels, and ultimately bone and heart health are a function not only of intake but excretion. Simply consuming more calcium – as a supplement or in food – does nothing about excretion and may not have the health benefits you’d expect.

This month, our writers will show, among other things, how one of the biggest factors in calcium excretion is the acid/base balance in our bodies since calcium leached from the bones is the body's best defense against acidity. The sodium:potassium ratio in our diet has a big impact on acid load, so it’s no surprise that potassium consumption is having a bigger impact on our calcium balance than calcium supplementation itself!3-4 Our hunter-gatherer ancestors typical ate 2:1 potassium to sodium while the western diet is closer to 10:1 sodium to potassium.5,6

Doctors who are in the know have started replacing their calcium prescription for osteoporitic patients with potassium recommendations. Specifically, their patients are told to eat more green leafy vegetable. Something they'd already be doing on a Paleo diet.

This month our writers take on calcium, addressing healthy vs unhealthy sources and more importantly, why absolute levels in your diet are less important that the balance of a variety of key nutrients – such as vitamin D, K, and potassium – that are critical for optimal “calcium health.”

Check back over the course of the next week as our team answer your questions about optimal calcium health on a Paleo diet. Here’s a preview of what to expect:

September Series: All About Calcium image

Calcium: A Team Sports View of Nutrition

By Christopher James Clark

Chris explains why it’s important to stop viewing calcium as a super-star individual nutrient and instead see it as part of a team of nutrients that includes vitamin D, vitamin K, magnesium, potassium and protein. It’s the balance of these nutrients and not the quantity of calcium that promotes bone and heart health!

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Promoting Calcium Balance Health on a Paleo Diet (Easier Than You Think)

By Dr. Marc Bubbs ND, CISSN, CSCS

Marc follows up on Chris’ article by explaining how to get the right balance of all the various nutrients involved in bone and heart health on a Paleo diet. As he points out in his title, a Paleo diet makes it easier than you’d think

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Coconut Milk: A Dairy Alternative

By Nell Stephenson

Whether it’s part of a smoothie, a dash added to your morning coffee, or consumed straight up, Nell talks about living with dairy substitutes from a Paleo diet perspective.

Nutritional Strategies for Skeletal and Cardiovascular health: Hard Bones, Soft Arteries, Rather Than Vice Versa

September Series: All About Calcium image

By Loren Cordain, Ph.D.
What better a way to complete our series on calcium than a peer reviewed scientific paper on how to optimize bone health written by a team of researchers led by Dr Cordain. While we touch on these concepts in our other articles, if you want to get deep and dirty with the science, check out this review!

The Bare Bones of Bone Health

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by Stephanie Vuolo

Bone strength isn't just affected by what you eat. Regular exercise mimicking the activity of hunter-gatherers helps to promote bone growth. writer Stephanie Vuolo explains more.


[1] Bolland, M.J., et al., Calcium intake and risk of fracture: systematic review. BMJ, 2015. 351: p. h4580.

[2] Paziana, K. and M. Pazianas, Calcium supplements controversy in osteoporosis: a physiological mechanism supporting cardiovascular adverse effects. Endocrine, 2015. 48(3): p. 776-8.

[3] Moseley, K.F., et al., Potassium citrate supplementation results in sustained improvement in calcium balance in older men and women. J Bone Miner Res, 2013. 28(3): p. 497-504.

[4] Sellmeyer, D.E., M. Schloetter, and A. Sebastian, Potassium citrate prevents increased urine calcium excretion and bone resorption induced by a high sodium chloride diet. J Clin Endocrinol Metab, 2002. 87(5): p. 2008-12.

[5] Cordain, L., The nutritional characteristics of a contemporary diet based upon Paleolithic food groups. Journal of the American Nutraceutical Association, 2002. 5(5): p. 15-24.

[6] Cordain, L., et al., Origins and evolution of the Western diet: health implications for the 21st century. Am J Clin Nutr, 2005. 81(2): p. 341-54.

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