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CALCIUM: Not Just for Strong Bones and Teeth



Not Just for Strong Bones and Teeth

Calcium, the essential mineral that helps build bones and teeth, is emerging as an important player in maintaining health in a host of other ways, from controlling high blood pressure and reducing the symptoms of premenstrual syndrome to perhaps even protecting against colon cancer. Researchers at the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute tested the effects of three eating plans: Standard American fare was compared to a diet high in fruits and vegetables and a combination diet that was rich in fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy products. The study found that the degree of blood pressure reduction from the combination eating plan was comparable to that of some anti-hypertensive medications. By comparison, the diet rich in fruits and vegetables was about half as effective as the combination diet in controlling blood pressure. One of the newest frontiers for calcium is in colon cancer prevention. Colon cancer develops from tiny polyps that are the result of rapidly multiplying cells in the lining of the intestine. Why these cells develop into polyps is not completely understood, but the theory is that a high-fat diet produces high amounts of fatty acids in the intestine, which accelerate the cell proliferation. Growing evidence suggests calcium can slow this process by binding to fatty acids and bile acids. (, July 6, 1999)

reprinted from "Sports Medicine Bytes" by Edmund R. Burke, Ph.D, in Muscular Developement magazine.

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