Coral Calcium – A Marine Miracle

coralMost of you have probably heard at least a little bit about coral calcium. Whether you have seen the infomercials on television or have seen an advertisement in your favorite health publication, you may be wondering if it is really the cure-all it is cracked up to be. Since many of you have called me with questions, I’ll try to shed some light on this “marine miracle”.

By all accounts, this dietary supplement is suffering from its own name. The name coral calcium has caused consumers to inappropriately focus on calcium alone when they consider its nutritional value. Coral calcium actually contains a number of fossilized stony coral minerals, up to 70 or so, in variable amounts. Generally, the main elements found in fossilized coral are calcium and magnesium. With that said, however, sales are certainly not suffering much. In 2002, coral calcium was the best-selling dietary supplement of the year, with sales in excess of $150 million.

Just what exactly is coral calcium? The precursor material is ocean sediment that is largely made up of debris that falls from coral reefs near the Ryukyu Islands of Japan. Some is derived from coral sand collected below sea level and some is sourced from above ground (mined). Different types vary by collection technique, processing, mineral content, and ultimate formulations of dietary supplements (capsules, gels, powders, tea bags). Most of the media buzz surrounds coral calcium that has the desired calcium to magnesium ratio of 2:1, which is optimum for absorption and is created by mixing coral sands of varying magnesium content.

Now that we know the “what”, let’s examine the “why”. The longevity benefits of coral calcium have emerged from a combination of folklore and science. A sort of “fountain of youth” mystique surrounds the supplement, which originates in Okinawa, Japan. It is thought that the documented longevity of Okinawans may be related in part to the mineral-enriched environment of their coral islands. This idea may hold some water based on other long-living cultures in mineral-rich spots throughout the world like the Hunzas in India and the native Indians of Guatemala. There has also been promising research on this theory by Dr. N. Tominaga of the Department of Medical Zoology of Saitama Medical School. In his test group of 22 rats, those who received water treated with coral calcium had, on the average, much longer life spans than rats that received untreated water.

While claims of increased longevity are a long way from being proved or disproved, some proposals have been downright preposterous. Coral calcium WILL NOT help you to “grow a new brain”, “throw away your wheelchair”, or “cure cancer”. The good news, though, is that coral calcium IS a valuable holistic mineral dietary supplement with emerging promise for wellness promotion. It is ABSOLUTELY TRUE that absorption rates from coral calcium are higher than from milk, hydroxyapatite and inorganic calcium carbonate. There is also promising research regarding the use of coral calcium in the treatment of osteoporosis, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heartburn, and even diabetes mellitus.

So, does coral calcium live up to the hype? With much of the research still in relatively early stages, one must rely heavily on the fact that the re-order percentage for coral calcium is staggeringly high. According to Stephen Holt, MD, “Testimonials of the benefits of coral calcium are not “proof” of a consistent beneficial health effect. However, the volume of testimonials cannot be ignored. The continuing use of coral calcium by so many people as a consequence of the benefits experienced is the important issue.” 

Coral calcium is definitely a great way to get some of the minerals lacking in most Western diets. The recommended adult dosage is usually somewhere between one and two grams daily. Natures Benefit from Coral Calcium, by Stephen Holt, M.D., is a great source of information on coral calcium and was used as a reference for this article.

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