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Think back to the colorful diagrams and little songs about the food pyramid when you were in school. In the dairy part of the triangle, there was a little glass of milk and a big yellow wedge of cheese sitting next to a cute little container of yogurt. Nowhere on that pyramid was a picture of coral. 


We also saw the “got milk?” ads that showed our favorite celebrities with silly milk mustaches, motivating us to drink more milk so we could grow big and strong like them. We knew how important our calcium and vitamin D were. We just didn’t know every available source. 


Calcium comes from plenty of non-dairy sources, much to the delight of lactose intolerant people and those who enjoy a dairy free lifestyle. Calcium is present in things like leafy greens, and fossilized coral. Coral seems like a strange place to obtain calcium from, but it’s environmentally friendly and perfectly safe. 


What is Coral Calcium?


Coral polyps are very tiny, very vulnerable animals. Some coral polyps are so small that you can barely see them without a magnifying glass. They’re also soft bodied invertebrates, making them easy for predators to fatally injure. This doesn’t mean they aren’t without protective mechanisms - their methods of protection are just a little bit unorthodox.


Coral polyps use a “power in numbers” strategy for survival. They find rocks on the ocean floor and anchor themselves to those rocks and to each other, creating the beautiful reef formations you’ve probably seen on scuba diving pamphlets or on the cover of marine biology textbooks.


This bonding process is so effective because coral secretes its own mineral rich glue. Calcium carbonate produced by coral is a major component in limestone. It’s nearly as hard as cement and bonds just as well. This rock hard bond keeps coral stuck for life, preventing currents from carrying it away or separating groups. 


Coral calcium comes from the calcium carbonate exoskeleton coral secrete as they fossilize at death. Coral that die of natural causes leave behind vast amounts of calcium and other minerals that can easily be used by the human body. Dead coral washes ashore and can be processed into things like toothpaste or supplements.


Is Coral Calcium Bad for the Environment?


Coral reefs are never disturbed for the production of eco safe coral calcium supplements and products. Living coral doesn’t fossilize or produce the hard exoskeleton needed for mineral extraction. The coral polyps used in this process have already lived out the duration of their natural lives. Removing their remnants doesn’t have any negative impact on the environment, as the coral no longer serve an ecological function. 


How is Coral Calcium Used?


Coral calcium is used to replace other kinds of calcium in our diet. Coral is too hard to cook with and not especially delicious. By the time coral’s minerals are usable, coral is more or less a rock. We can’t use coral to make cheese or smoothies or salads. It’s no good to us in its solid form or its powdered form as a meal additive. Instead, concentrated coral calcium is used in health and personal care products. 


Calcium supplements are crucially important for people with chronic conditions that impact their teeth, bones, and joints. Calcium can be ingested orally in the form of a tablet or used topically for tooth remineralization. 


Coral Calcium in Supplements


Calcium is necessary for bone, tooth, muscle, and nerve health. A lack of calcium can cause health issues, particularly in children. Children who do not receive enough calcium in childhood may not have the bone support they need to reach their full potential height. Individuals deficient in calcium may find that broken bones, sprains, or fractures take an extraordinary long time to heal, because the body hasn’t been supplied with adequate nutrients to facilitate that repair process.


Coral calcium works just as well as any other calcium supplement. The body needs a little bit of vitamin D to aid in calcium absorption. Many calcium supplements contain supplemental vitamin D to boost their bioavailability. The body can also use sunlight to synthesize its own vitamin D - just make sure to slather on a high SPF broad spectrum sunscreen to prevent the harmful effects of UV rays


The body poorly absorbs calcium because many healthy foods inhibit the body’s natural ability to utilize it. Perfectly harmless foods like collard greens, beans, nuts, whole grains, sweet potatoes, and spinach all have a place at your dinner table. The only problem is that they don’t agree with calcium, because they contain compounds called phytic acid and oxalic acid that inhibit the absorption of the mineral.


Because of the presence of these acids in wonderfully healthy foods, a balanced diet may actually be working against you. You may not be absorbing all of the calcium you’re taking in through your diet, and a supplement can help to make up for some of what you’ve lost by ingesting cheese with whole grain bread, putting a dollop of light sour cream on your baked sweet potato, or  sprinkling crushed almonds on top of your fruit and yogurt parfait. 


Coral Calcium in Toothpastes


In toothpaste, coral calcium serves two very important purposes. The first is that it acts as an abrasive agent that cleans the surface of the teeth. The second is that it provides minerals necessary to fortify tooth enamel. 


Toothpaste needs to have a little bit of grit to it. Think about scrubbing food stains off of a pot with a silk cloth, versus scrubbing them off with a scouring pad. The silk cloth is going to cause you a lot of grief. It’s just going to slide around without really gathering anything. The texture of the scouring pad will loosen the food debris with the pot, helping you get the bottom truly clean. That’s what the grit in toothpaste does for your teeth. 


It’s important that a toothpaste is neither too gritty nor too smooth. You need just enough of an abrasive agent to fully remove stains and buildup from your teeth, but not so much that you’re scrubbing the enamel away with the bacteria. Coral calcium is just abrasive enough to remove the things you don’t want in your mouth (like the buildup responsible for plaque) without removing the things you do want in your mouth (like tooth enamel). 


Tooth enamel benefits significantly from the use of coral calcium. Everything you eat and drink (especially sugary and acidic foods) will wear away your tooth enamel, causing potentially irreversible damage. Your body cannot regrow enamel. Once it’s lost, it’s lost. That’s why its crucially important to take care of the enamel you have. 


Using coral calcium, which is loaded with dozens of trace minerals, can help your teeth replenish the stores of calcium within your enamel. This process is called remineralization, and it results in stronger teeth that will stay healthier for longer. 


The Safety of Coral Calcium


Coral calcium is just as safe as other forms of calcium, provided that the individual taking the supplement does not have any known allergies to coral calcium or is not taking any other supplements or medications that may interfere with coral calcium. If your doctor has advised you against taking calcium supplements, coral calcium won’t be any different. It still contains the same amount of calcium. 


If you’re unsure if coral calcium is the right choice for you, speak with your doctor before using it. It’s always better to ask and make an informed decision than it is to deal with potential consequences.


The Side Effects of Coral Calcium


The side effects of coral calcium supplements are the same as the side effects with almost any other supplement. An upset stomach may occur as a result of high concentrations of a mineral being ingested at once. Taking coral calcium with food can mitigate the risk of this side effect. Some people might find that they experience constipation rather than an upset stomach. If you experience either of these side effects, speak with your doctor.


People with known shellfish allergies may have adverse reactions to coral calcium supplements. If you have any allergies to seafood or shellfish, it’s best to regard coral in the same manner. You don’t want to take it if you know that there is a potential for that allergic reaction - don’t try it and see. 


Conclusion


Although coral calcium is somewhat unconventional, it’s just as effective as any other kind of calcium. The side effects and risks are no different from any other calcium supplement on the market, unless you have a history of allergic reactions to marine products, shellfish, or seafood products. 


Coral calcium is great for your bones and great for your teeth. Oral coral calcium supplements strengthen bone tissue, fortify muscles, and improve nerve function. Coral calcium in toothpaste gives enamel the nutrients it needs to replenish itself after a long day of eating and drinking.




Source 1 - food pyramid

https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/healthy-eating-pyramid/


Source 2 - life cycle of coral

https://www.livingoceansfoundation.org/education/portal/course/life-cycle/


Source 3 - vitamin D and sunscreen

https://www.skincancer.org/blog/sun-protection-and-vitamin-d/


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