Calcium Essential for Strong Bones, Sound Sleep

calciumDid you know that Calcium, the most abundant mineral in the human body, is not only essential for strong bones, it also supports healthy functioning of the cardiovascular, musculoskeletal, and nervous systems? Research shows a relationship between Calcium intake and risk for heart disease, colorectal cancer, kidney stones, PMS, and managing a healthy weight. When it comes to sound sleep, insufficient dietary Calcium has been associated with insomnia. Calcium is instrumental in the way our brains cycle through the stages of sleep and in the ability to generate brain chemicals, including tryptophan, associated with deep sleep.

The best way to get calcium is through whole foods. Dairy products are abundant in the mineral in a form that’s easy for most people to digest. Vegans sources of this mineral include almonds, dark leafy greens, and tofu. However, figuring out how much calcium you’re actually getting from veggies is tricky. If a vegetable contains oxalic or phytic acid, then the calcium may be poorly absorbed because of the acids. For example, 1 c. of frozen spinach contains nearly as much calcium as 1 c. of milk, but only a tenth as much is absorbed because of the oxalic acid.

For a healthy adult, the recommended intake for a Calcium supplement is 1,000 – 2,000 mg daily, depending on health status and lifestyle habits including exercise. There are many factors and forms of calcium supplements (e.g., carbonate, citrate), that affect how well the body absorbs the mineral. Also, calcium supplements can interact with other medications. Too much calcium can stress other bodily systems, leading to health problems. For these reasons, consult with a health practitioner as to which type and dosage of calcium is best for you.


Natural Therapies for a Good Night’s Sleep

sleepBefore your head sinks into the pillow at bedtime, there are some very simple things you can do to prepare mind and body for a night of deeply restful sleep. The evening hours are a time when the busyness of your day should begin to wind down. It’s important to create a bedtime ritual that will help tame the thoughts that may still be racing through your mind and which can prevent you from falling or staying asleep throughout the night.

Try adding some of the following naturopathic and holistic approaches to your evening routine.

  • Turn off WiFi if possible!
  • Enjoy a warm bath including Epsom salts and/or lavender oil.
  • Listen to the relaxing sounds of ocean waves, classical music, or chimes. There are specialized acoustic recordings that are orchestrated to affect specific brain wave patterns for relaxation or sleep.
  • A guided recording of progressive muscle relaxation, deep breathing exercises, restorative yoga poses, can help the body create the ‘relaxation response’.
  • Herbs and other botanical or aromatherapy treatments are useful for calming down after a stressful day. In addition to the herbs discussed in this month’s newsletter, you might want to ask your physician about teas, tinctures or capsule preparations of valerian, skullcap, passionflower, or lemon balm.
  • Try meditation, beginning with just 10 minutes a day. Meditation has numerous health benefits and recent studies show it can significantly affect quality of sleep.