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Good Bone Health Requires Proper Products
By Lois Thomson


If you believe that taking calcium supplements is all you need to promote good bone health, you might want to talk with Jackson O'Connell. O'Connell is the supplements buyer for the East End Food Co-op, purchasing such products as vitamins, minerals, nutritional oils, probiotics, herbal supplements, protein powders.

Regarding calcium, he said that for the past 50 years it has been highlighted as the main source for promoting bone health, and added, "It has been marketed in many different ways, but the form that is calcium carbonate is really cheap and poorly absorbed." Absorption is important or the supplement won't provide much benefit.

To augment the calcium, O'Connell emphasized the value of good drinking water, which is not the kind that comes out of a faucet. "You want to make sure you have good drinking water, along with the hydration minerals – magnesium, potassium, chloride, sodium, lithium, boron – that make the water wetter or serve more purpose." He explained that "wetter water" is vital, because the wetter it is, the more quickly cellular hydration will happen. That is significant, as larger minerals in the system will then be more easily transported throughout. "Calcium can be broken down by magnesium and potassium, which is good because deposits of calcium in the wrong places can turn into kidney stones, gall stones."

Jackson O'Connell has always been interested in nutrition. He has worked at the East End Food Co‑op for 10 years, but the decade prior to that he was a touring musician. "I had to figure out how to keep myself healthy while being on the road. The order in which you ate food, the time you ate food, and the quality of the food, would directly affect your health. I need my supplements and my diet to have substance for me."

He further explained that when people consume large amounts of soda, phosphoric acid can build and create imbalances, so that, "the body is mining calcium from wherever it can get it – which means if it has to, it will take it from the bones to get the balance right in the stomach."

The importance of calcium can therefore not be overstated, and O'Connell said his preference is to get it from diet – dark greens, legumes, the nut family, organ meats, and vegetables – and then prioritize vitamin D and vitamin K through supplementation. "Those help with the transportation of calcium, to get it from the digestive tract absorbed and distributed to bone tissue."

O'Connell said, therefore, "I have to be mindful of bringing in products that are either food-based or another good absorbable form of the particular vitamin or mineral. Great calcium sources in the Co‑op, food-wise, are most of your cheese family, sesame seeds, which would also mean tahini, sardines, kale, broccoli, salmon, liver, and most of the bean family."

He said when people come into the Co-op to discuss their diet, he can deduce if they are getting adequate calcium, and, if so, focus on vitamins D and K. "Or, if they're dehydrated they may not be getting adequate magnesium, potassium in their drinking water, and that could to be an issue for bone density as far as calcium absorption."

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For more information, call (412) 242-3598 or visit www.eastendfood.coop.



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