It's only common sense that whole food - often called "food state" in holistic nutritional circles - is a lot better than synthetic. "Food state" nutrients are molecularly bonded to enhance absorption and assimilation in the body.
Still, scientific proof is good. An important study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in May 2007, strongly suggests that calcium from food sources may be far more effective than calcium from supplements.
The study concluded that women who get most of their daily calcium from food sources have healthier bones and greater bone density, even though those who took more supplements tended to have higher average levels of calcium.
Yes, "food state" calcium was superior to synthetic calcium!
Researchers asked 183 post- menopausal women to document their diet over a week. After this, their bone mineral density and oestrogen were tested.
Women who got at least 70 per cent of their daily calcium from "food state" sources instead of calcium supplements took in the least calcium (about 830mg a day), but had higher spine and hip bone density than women consuming 1,030mg of calcium a day primarily from supplement sources.
Women who got calcium in relatively even amounts from both food and supplemental sources had both the highest bone mineral density and the highest calcium intake (1,620mg a day).
Calcium from dietary sources is usually more completely absorbed than calcium from supplements, which could explain the difference. Women who got calcium from foods also had higher oestrogen levels. Oestrogen is needed to maintain bone mineral density.
Those who got calcium from food sources might have also taken in more vitamin D as "food state" calcium always comes "locked" with this vitamin. Vitamin D would aid in calcium absorption.
As often happens when it comes to food, quality is more important than quantity. Even though the women taking supplements had higher average levels of calcium, the women who got their calcium from food had stronger bones.
The simple fact that grandma knew but is now proven by science is this: Calcium from food is better absorbed and used by your body than synthetic calcium from a pill.
Intuitively, we know "food state" calcium is better than "non-living" calcium. That is why we never eat the eggshell. After all, the egg shell does have more calcium than the yolk and egg white. It is even harder - an indication of the calcium content.
However, the egg shell is between 94 to 97 per cent calcium carbonate. In reality, this is "non-living" calcium.
The best source of calcium is from milk and other dairy products.
However, as we grow older milk often becomes problematic due to:
Dutch scientists have been able to extract milk minerals by ultra filtering all the other parts of milk - fats, sugars and proteins. What is left over is milk minerals - possibly the best part of milk - as far as bone building is concerned.
Milk minerals have the ratio of calcium, magnesium and phosphorus in ratios almost identical to that of living bone. Indeed, all calcium found in living systems - bones, flesh, milk, plants and eggs - is in this similar ratio.
Milk minerals are also rich in trace amounts of boron and other rare minerals vital to bone formation and growth. Milk minerals have trace levels of natural vitamin D and K that we now know are vital in the bone formation process.
Look at the chart that compares the mineral contents of bones to that what is found in milk. You will be amazed at how identical they are in terms of percentage content and ratios. That is why milk is sometimes called "liquid bone" in nutritional circles.
A major Swiss study by J.P. Bonjour published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation (Volume 99, Number 6, March 1997, 1287-1294), showed that supplementation with milk minerals-enriched foods enhanced bone mass and growth in pre-pubertal girls by an average of 38 per cent.
Most calcium supplements are just "non-living" minerals like calcium carbonate which is the chemical name for chalk. The balance of magnesium and phosphorus is missing. Very rare minerals like boron are missing too. Of course, supplements with various calcium salts are normally enriched with vitamin D to enhance absorption. Synthetic calcium are easy and cheap to make as calcium is the fifth most abundant mineral in the earth's crust normally found as calcium carbonate (limestone), oxide, chloride and hydroxide.
Milk minerals have become available as easy-to-take tablets.