Calcium gets such a bad rap and poor thing is clearly misunderstood.
When you think of calcium you think of bones right? But that's it. The thought process stops there. There isn't anything that goes beyond bones or structure unfortunately, and it's really too bad because calcium is more than just part of our skeletons!
There are many utilizations of calcium aside from bone strength such as
- Calcium inhibits thyroid-releasing hormone
- Signals to the pancreas to release insulin
- Antagonizes certain heavy metals like cadmium and lead.
- Is involved in blood clotting.
- Supports bile and fat digestion.
- It plays a role in the metabolism which you can read all about here
But one of the most important things calcium supports is our nervous system, and not too many people are aware of this.
First off, what is our nervous system? Our nervous system is the network of nerve tissue in the body that encases our central nervous system (the brain and spinal cord also called CNS), the peripheral nervous system (nerves that extend from the spinal cord to the rest of the body also recognized as PNS), and other nerve tissue. Its main job is to transmit signals between the brain and the rest of the body, including internal organs. In this way, the nervous system's responsibility is to control and influence all of our 5 senses.
An example of this would be smelling food. If you go over to your parents house one night and they cook this meal that brings you back to comforting childhood memories, not only will your body suddenly relax, but your brain will start jogging back memories. Sometimes the body will feel softer, limper, more comforted, emotions may rise, all because the sense of smelling activates certain neurons signaling to the brain this all smells, feels, and maybe looks familiar, safe and loving.
That being said, just like with every day life, we experience all types of emotions within a 24 hour day. From walking into work and getting frustrated over a deadline to getting back home later on the evening and being greeted by your pet and feeling happy to see them. Our bodies are resilient and capable to adapting to different stimuli, and the nervous system plays a role in how our bodies react to these things with the help of our senses.
So what does this have to do with minerals? Well, when we are stressed, we use up a lot of minerals as a source of energy. Depending on the type and time the stress is endured, our sensitive nervous system will react accordingly, and at times choose to suppress suppress certain functions in the body as a protective mechanism. Minerals are like electricity for our cells. If we don’t have adequate levels of minerals AND in the right ratios, our cells cannot properly conduct their responsibilities.
Going back as I mentioned before, we have 2 scales to the nervous system that we can lean on: The Sympathetic state (fight or flight) and the Parasympathetic state (rest and digest). Both serve a purpose, and it's not to say one is better than the other. Many people share that being in "fight or flight" is what causes our bodies to lean into dysregulation, but I'd argue that being in a "fight or flight" state is actually a sign of a healthy nervous system because it is capable of reacting. If you fail to react, you cannot defend, thus being stuck in a parasympathetic state is most likely more dangerous in the long term. That being said, yes, to get to being stuck in that state it means a chronic amount of sympathetic triggering which is what we would call chronic stress.
Going back to the mineral point though, in times in which the body is over excited, anxious, needing a sense to calm itself down, it will look for calcium because it's a natural sedative for it slows nerve transmission and provides muscle relaxation.
Ever watch a baby drink it's mother's milk and suddenly go off to sleep again? Its that natural calming process that calcium offers to calm an over active nervous system that we all need to a certain degree.
In times in which we are deficient in calcium people can develop things like muscle spasms, anxiety, nervousness, have this inability to keep on weight or muscle, all because the nervous system is over stimulated and has nothing to sedate it.
On the flip side though, if there is too much calcium present- especially within the soft tissues, we can see symptoms manifest themselves like fatigue, brain fog, joint pain, and even emotionless feeling like a "shell".
Things to look out for on an HTMA to see if calcium is imbalanced is to check one's Ca:P ratio (which is the nervous system ratio), the Ca:K ratio (which is the thyroid ratio) and the Ca:Mg ratio (which is the blood sugar ratio).
This is why mineral balancing is a lot more than just taking a supplement, but we have to see the influence one's environment, state of mind, and even other minerals could be interacting with each other to find resolution.
So how do we know if we're calcium deficient or have an excess? Best thing to do is to run an HTMA with us by clicking the link here.
Hair Tissue Mineral Analysis Practitioner
Functional Diagnostic Nutrition Practitioner
Integrative Health Coach