In an episode of “Seinfield”, Kramer develops a kidney stone.
“What is that, anyway?” asks Jerry.
“It’s a stony mineral concretion,” replies Kramer quite accurately, “formed abnormally in the kidney. And this jagged shard of calcium pushes its way through the ureter into the bladder. It’s forced out through the urine!”
“Oh,” says Jerry, “that’s gotta hurt.”
If you can imagine having to urinate a quarter inch or larger rock-solid and jagged crystal, you can understand what kind of pain this would cause. It’s definitely something to be avoided. Yet many people, trying to prevent osteoporosis, are inviting this very condition – while doing little to help their bone mass.
The most common mineral composing a kidney stone is calcium. It may seem strange to think in our age of epidemic calcium deficiency that we’d be suffering from a disease rooted in excess calcium. Yet, in this dilemma are the clues to reducing incidents of kidney stones and osteoporosis.
Just look at what most people do when their doctor tells them they are suffering from some form of osteoporosis. They start drinking more milk and downing more calcium supplements.
Upping your calcium-rich foods helps the problem a little. “Little” being the key word. Millions of people are watching their bone mass fade away as they consume excessive amounts of dairy and calcium supplements. It doesn’t take a scientist to see that a lack of calcium is not the problem.
Absorption is the issue.
You get the calcium into your blood stream, but how about your bones? And if it’s not getting into your bone cells, where is it going? Well, some of it may be hardening your arteries and some may contribute to tumor growths, but the majority ends up passing through your kidneys into the urine.
Of course, all that calcium – especially the coarser kind used in most supplements – doesn’t make it through the fine filter of your kidneys. Instead it collects, forming kidney stones.
So how can you absorb calcium better?
First of all, avoid calcium carbonate. Many people take this.
Plants provide us with naturally absorbable calcium. They extract calcium from the soil and break it down, making it part of their structure. Leafy greens, grass and almonds are excellent sources of calcium.
So a balanced diet with leafy vegetables and almonds should provide you with enough calcium – as long as the soil in which they were grown is rich in calcium (usually not a problem).
But don’t stop there. Magnesium is essential to absorbing calcium. It allows the cells to relax and open. Without magnesium, calcium will not absorb fully. In fact, it’s still going to collect in excess in your bloodstream, forming kidney stones.
At the end of that “Seinfeld” episode, Kramer finally did get rid of his kidney stone. In a public restroom at a circus. His scream was so loud that it sent the tightrope walker plummeting to the safety net.
That’s an experience I wish on no one. So please, make sure you are getting enough calcium and magnesium from sources that your cells can absorb.