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Thread: Calcium After SCI; Good or Bad?

  1. #1

    Calcium After SCI; Good or Bad?

    I'm just wondering if consuming calcium is okay after a spinal cord injury. When my husband got hurt 13 years ago he was told to avoid calcium as much as possible, he's not even supposed to drink a glass of milk once in a while. This seems wrong to me. I've asked around and everyone tells me something different, and there isn't a SCI specialist in my area to ask.
    Wise or SCI-Nurse, do you know?

  2. #2
    when i was injured over 20yrs ago, the common thinking then was what your husband was told.
    they did a kind of experiment in my rehab hospital (Rusk NYU) giving everyone sci'd a restrictive low calcium diet, and comparing those results w/ sci'd ppl who had calcium in their diets.
    the idea was low calcium would reduce the incidence of kidney stones.
    what they found was it made no difference.
    and they suspended the low calcium diet.
    i think your husband has gotten out of date advice.
    but dr. young and/or the nurses will have more up to date info than i can give you.
    who can live w/o cheese?!

  3. #3
    krystal, the answer depends on his blood calcium levels. Many people have very high blood calcium levels, released from bone. Eating additional calcium at that time will raise blood calcium levels which may have deleterious side effects including loss of appetite, formation of kidney stones. Wise.

  4. #4
    Nancie is right. Studies have found that with the rare exception of those people who develop hypercalcemia (high blood calcium levels) immediately after injury (usually adolescent and young adult men) the current thinking is not to restrict calcium intake. The higher calcium blood levels after SCI are due to leaching of calcium out of the bone, not due to diet, and restricting calcium only resulted in poor protein intake (the diet is very unpalatable) and did not effect either osteoporosis rates or stone formation.

    Currently calcium supplementation is generally encouraged (along with vitamin D) for those who are past the acute phase of their SCI.


  5. #5
    Thanks for the replies.

    My husband can't remember if he was tested for high blood calcium levels or not, but he remembers everyone in rehab being told not to have calcium, so that tells me he might have just been given incorrect information.

    Is the blood calcium level test something his doctor can just order for him? He's awfully excited that he might be able to have milk and cheese afterall, and is anxious to find out for sure.

    Thanks again for the help.


  6. #6
    At the time he was injured, this was considered appropriate care. Time (and research) moves on, so now we know better.

    If he is getting regular check-ups that include a Chem 20 panel he probably already has blood calcium levels measured. He should check with his physician. I would be very surprised if not normal as it is rarely elevated more than a few weeks even in people who are newly injured.

    Of course keep in mind that as someone with a SCI he is more at risk for high cholesterol, so try to keep those cheeses and milk products low fat. Also, lots of cheese can be constipating. Everything in moderation!


  7. #7
    I'm 12 years post and was never told or heard that I shouldn't consume calcium. I've been drinking on average 2 glasses of milk a day since my injury and haven't had any problems. I'd be pist if I were him and had been avoiding milk all this time for nothing.

  8. #8
    Thanks again SCI-Nurse, we've found out that he was never tested and will be getting tested soon.

    JT, he is mad. Milk was his favorite thing to drink before his injury...... he's since replaced it with pop so I'll be happy to see him possibly drinking milk again too.


  9. #9
    i take 2 calcium pills a day, and stand for about an hour. i want to keep my bones healthy for the day i walk again

    Josh S.

  10. #10
    Question for Dr. Young or Spinal Cord Nurse: What is the best kind of calcium supplement to take? Which kind is absorbed best and is less likely to cause constipation? I have read that liquid calcium with magnesium and Vitamin D is absorbed more completely than pills with similar content. Is this true -- or just a marketing gimmick? Other than laxatives, more fiber, drinking lots of water, etc., is there any way to counteract the constipating nature of calcium supplements?

    [This message was edited by wisconsinmom on 05-04-05 at 12:55 PM.]

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