Understanding Coral Calcium: health article by Dave Saunders
Calcium is an essential mineral and is required for human life. However talk about the benefits of coral calcium can be confusing and may make it difficult to put into context how we can benefit from appropriate levels of calcium in the diet, be it from food or from supplemental sources.
Calcium is the most abundant mineral in the human body, and has several important functions. More than 99% of total body calcium is stored in the bones and teeth providing the necessary support to their structure. As a normal function of biology, the living cells of the body absorb new calcium to replace lost calcium or to build upon existing structure as in the case of childhood growth or in healing.
Coral calcium is a salt derived from fossilized coral reefs. The living coral reefs are endangered and most major reefs are protected by law as they cannot be harvested without severe damage to the ecosystem. Coral calcium is harvested by grinding up above-ground limestone deposits that were once part of a coral reef.
Coral calcium itself is composed primarily of calcium carbonate with small amounts of magnesium and other trace minerals. Chemically, calcium carbonate from coral sources is no different than from other sources of calcium, despite the claims otherwise by some companies. However, the addition of trace minerals, which may be deficient ones diet, could explain why some claim benefits of coral calcium over more refined sources of calcium supplements.
While the calcium component of coral calcium is identical to any other limestone deposit, fossilized coral reefs may contain trace minerals helpful to the human body. Though it's unlikely that a well-fed individual would be deficient in any of these minerals, clear dietary data shows that while the average American diet may be providing abundant levels of calories, salt, fat and preservatives, it is otherwise low in nutrition. Therefore, many people may benefit from a basic level of supplementation of all essential and necessary nutrients, including calcium.
There have been many unsubstantiated claims made regarding coral calcium, perhaps the most controversial of which is the suggestion that coral calcium cures cancer by increasing pH of the body. Scientific studies have been performed indicating that cancer cells cannot survive at sufficiently high pH levels. However, while this may be true when tested in a Petri Dish, the pH required to kill cancer cells also kills healthy human cells.
Another problem with the "body alkalinization" concept is that the body pH doesn't change, regardless of how much calcium carbonate is ingested. The human body can only function properly within a narrow pH range. It has been shown that if alkalinizing agents are ingested, the body promptly excretes the alkaline components in urine. Attempting to increase the pH of bodies only appears to succeed in raising the pH of the urine. The same applies if acidic foods are ingested in that the urine becomes more acidic.
Calcium itself is an essential mineral for human life, and coral calcium is an effective source of it, though by no means the only one. When researching any supplement, keep in mind that supplements are intended to improve nutrition. They are not designed to treat, cure or mitigate any disease. However, high quality supplements are an excellent way to supplement, but not substitute, the benefits of a good diet.
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