Thursday, August 4, 2016

Easy, Inexpensive (sometimes free) Calcium Supplement

Did you know that calcium is the fifth most abundant element by mass in the earth's crust? Yet, we always seem to be lacking in this area, especially our kiddos. We all know milk provides some calcium. But, did you know it's NOT the food with the highest amount of calcium. It just has a great PR firm. A short list of foods containing calcium, some with higher amounts than milk and often with less volume than a serving of milk is below:

Collard greens
Broccoli (also has more vitamin C than an orange)
Broccoli rabe
Bok Choy
Sardines (way more calcium than milk)
Canned salmon (same calcium level as milk)
White beans
Tofu (far more calcium than milk)
Egg shells

That last one is the one I want to touch on. Egg shells are a different item than the egg inside. Egg shell is actually made of calcium carbonate. 1/2 tsp of powdered egg shell has 350 - 400 mg of calcium which is equal to or far greater than a serving of milk.

The best part is, most of us already have this excellent source in our homes. Did you know it's very easy to turn these items we either toss in the trash or throw around our rose bushes into free or very inexpensive (depending on if you want to view the shell as trash which you wouldn't include in the price of your egg that you purchased or got from your own chickens)  calcium supplements? Well, I am going to show you how I did it and did it in a very short period of time.

I started with a lot of research. I didn't want to do something that would be harmful to my family. Once I found that this was not only safe but a pretty accepted practice and use for shells, I moved on to the how. I needed this to be in powered form for two reasons.

1) My sons are g-tube fed so they prefer their supplements to go through the tube. Add in that I can just toss the powder in their feeds and it's even better.

2) I can put these in capsules and take them myself.

Before I go any further, I want to add a disclaimer. I am not a doctor, dietitian, or a medical professional of any kind. I am simply a Mom who likes to do things as naturally, yet simply, as possible. Please seek any advice you might need from your own medical professionals before making any diet, supplement or medication changes or before taking the advice of any online source.

Having said that, let's go with the how-to of this project:

1) Step one is easy. Collect egg shells. You can do this a few at a time, but it's far easier to collect shells for a bit and do a bigger batch. If you want to collect the shells simply put them in a ziploc type bag (we actually use an undyed wax bag) and put them in the refrigerator until you collect enough shells for you to work with. The best part is, there's no magic number. When you need more, make more.

2) Rinse the shells to get off any of the egg white, etc.

3) Place these shells in boiling water for 15 minutes to help kill off any bacteria which might be in the eggs. I do nothing special to them other than using a butter knife to make sure they are all under water.

4) After they have boiled you can use a fork to remove them to a towel to dry for an hour.

5) Once dried you have a few choices. You can put them in a skillet for a few minutes on medium heat or you can put them on a cookie sheet and put it in an oven at 200F for 10 - 15 minutes. This not only ensures the shells are very dry (you do NOT want any moisture on your shells) but also just makes sure you have no bacteria on them (if you ate the egg, most likely you are quite safe). I chose to put them on a cookie sheet and used our counter top convection oven.

6) Remove a few at a time and put them into a coffee grinder or blender. Again, make sure it is very dry.

7)Blend/grind until you have a fine powder. Do this with all the shells until you have them all powdered. I used the dry canister on my Vitamix and it worked like a charm. But you can use a simple coffee grinder and get awesome results. 

8) You can then store them in a small mason jar type container. Put it in the fridge and you are ready to use.

WARNING: Do not use more than 3/4 - 1 tsp/day. Calcium is safe to supplement, but you do not want to get all your calcium via supplementation. If you are using this with children, a rule of thumb is 50% of your calcium dosage can be done by supplements. So, if your calcium should be at 800 mg, use 1/2 tsp for a total of 400 mg and check the list above for wonderful sources of calcium to eat at each meal.

Here are a few resources to see how others do it:

Mama Natural

Healing Naturally

Alex Jamieson


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