Calcium poem by Janet Kuypers

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Calcium

Janet Kuypers

from the “ Periodic Table of Poetry” series

The media shoves it down your throat now:
how important it is to have Calcium,
especially women.
Make sure you don’t get osteoporosis
and take Calcium.
Drink an extra glass of milk each day.
It’s healthy.

And you know, I take my supplements
and have to take two Calcium pills daily
just so I can say I’ve ingested what
the USRDA says I should consume,
but I’m sure those pills barely get absorbed,
so I should at least eat more cheese
(since as an infant at six months I rejected milk,
and I can’t understand why it’s smart to drink
milk from another species as an adult,
when no other species would ever do the same).

But really, the more I think bout it,
the more I wonder:
adults didn’t suffer with osteoporosis
before the seventeen hundreds.
Was osteoporosis not discovered because
they didn’t know how to discover it,
or was it not discovered because no one had it?
And if it didn’t exist before,
what has changed in our society to make
osteoporosis (porous bones) a real concern
for so many people as they get older?

#

Just watched a documentary recently
that advocated a plant-based diet.
They even had a segment showing
the global promotion of meat consumption
so you could have enough protein in your diet.
And this documentary showed how China
had lived for millennia without excess
red meat or processed food in their lives.
And now with dietary modern “luxuries” in China,
alone with new record highs for heart attacks,
youth were interviewed on the streets of China
and asked why they needed to eat more meat.
They all said… for protein.
So it makes me wonder how vegetarians can do it,
or how vegans with a plant-based diet
can get enough Calcium into their bodies
to save them from bone decay and osteoporosis.

So as I looked into how to get Calcium,
I found that on earth it’s seldom alone,
but is chiefly found in sedimentary rocks,
and over the years us humans
have even used Calcium in construction
(makes sense, if we need Calcium so
we can have stronger bones).
Calcium carbonate is used in concrete
and mortar, lime and limestone,
and can even take part in glass manufacturing.
I mean, when researching, I found Calcium
is even used as a refracting agent
in the extracting of other elements,
like uranium, zirconium and thorium…
It’s a deoxidizer sometimes, it’s even
used as an alloy agent in the production of
aluminum, beryllium, copper, lead and magnesium.

Then again, Calcium arsenate is an insecticide.
Calcium carbonate can be used for acrylic torches.
Calcium chloride, in addition to it’s other uses,
can even provide body to car tires.
Calcium hydrochloride disinfects swimming pools.

Calcium phosphate is used in animal feed,
and Calcium is a food additive in vitamin pills.

Which brings me to Calcium in the body,
because ninety percent of all of our Calcium is in
our bones and teeth (which we wanna keep strong).
And some wonder if there’s a link between
too much Calcium (like twice the USRDA)
and testicular cancer, but hey, I’m just
worrying about getting enough Calcium
in my diet in the first place, you know,
to ensure I won’t get osteoporosis (much less
rickets, or difficulty with blood clotting).

And while researching this, I found
an additional place for getting Calcium:
egg shells. Yes, literally grinding them up
to add to your diet can give you lots of Calcium.

But when looking for ways Calcium is used,
here’s where the learning jackpot
paid off for me with food and health:
when making cheese, Calcium ions
influence the activity of rennin,
to actually make the milk coagulate.

So seeing this bonus application for Calcium
in this pizzatarian’s favorite food (cheese),
it then made me wonder if this “plant-based” diet
can actually provide enough Calcium…
And it really made me feel good to know
that although cow milk (i.e., drinking the
lactations from another species as an adult)
is an excellent source of Calcium,
soy milk and other vegetable milks
are fortified with enough Calcium
to make then a just-as-rich in Calcium
alternative to milk from an animal.

I know, I know, Calcium and it’s ions
are used in a ton of different things,
but I’m stuck on obsessing over my bones
right now.

And granted, Calcium carbonate (that stuff
that also aids in the creation of acrylic torches)
is the same form of Calcium in diet supplements,
and I do make a point to take them twice daily
with food, but… It made me smile to learn
that a doctor in a study found that as women
got older, if they took Calcium supplements,
they tended on average to gain
five pounds less than other women.
(Granted, that doctor even said he’d really be
“going out on a limb” to link weight loss
with Calcium supplements, but I’ll take whatever
I can get, or at least laugh at the coincidence.)

And hey, even though this relatively non-toxic
Calcium can be hazardous as Calcium metal
(found in cleaners), and taking too much
Calcium carbonate in antacids (like Tums)
can lead to serious health problem,
doctors have still found that enough Calcium
may seem to prevent some cancerous pollups…

So yeah, even though we’ve found a ton
of other uses for this element, I’m sticking with
possibly dairy (you know, for this pizzatarian) —
and definitely vegetable sources —
for getting this vital element into
my extended bones.