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Quantification and Comparison of Calcium in Juniper Ash and Soil Used in Traditional Navajo Foods

Begay, Daniel (2017) Quantification and Comparison of Calcium in Juniper Ash and Soil Used in Traditional Navajo Foods. Masters thesis, Northern Arizona University.

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In order to achieve healthy bone formation and structure, the human body needs an adequate source of calcium in their diet. A calcium deficiency can cause multiple bone-related disorders such as osteoporosis and rickets in children. Although most Native Americans, due to being lactose intolerant, are unable to consume dairy products, previous research has demonstrated that elderly Native American women had fewer hip fractures than elderly Caucasian women. This suggested that they are receiving an adequate non-dairy based source of calcium in their diet on a daily basis.A potential source of calcium is traditional Navajo foods, specifically blue corn-based dishes that contain juniper ash which comes from branches from a juniper tree that are burned until only an ash is left. Previous work done by Christensen quantified calcium in juniper ash collected on the Navajo reservation and suggested juniper ash as an adequate source of calcium comparable to milk. The focus of the present research was to expand on this previous research by (1) quantifying calcium in different segments of the juniper tree, (2) comparing two different ashing techniques (laboratory and traditional Navajo ashing process), and (3) establishing a relationship between calcium concentration of the juniper tree and the soil beneath the tree.During sample collection, 20 sampling sites were selected for analysis, along with five juniper samples collected from a flea market as well as a blue corn meal sample; a total of 27 samples were collected. Quantification of calcium was done via flame atomic absorption spectroscopy utilizing external calcium calibration standards. Results suggest the following: (1) there is a greater average concentration of calcium in the juniper branch (309 mg/g) compared to the juniper leaves (279 mg/g). (2) The type of ashing process will determine the amount of calcium in juniper samples. Samples ashed via muffle furnace had a greater average concentration of calcium (289 mg/g) compared to traditional Navajo process (242 mg/g). (3) Compared to the calcium concentration in a juniper tree, the soil collected beneath had an extremely low amount of calcium (11.8 mg/g).

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
Publisher’s Statement: © Copyright is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the Cline Library, Northern Arizona University. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
Keywords: Health and environmental sciences; Calcium; Juniper; Juniper ash; Navajo; Soil; Traditional Navajo foods
Subjects: Q Science > QD Chemistry
NAU Depositing Author Academic Status: Student
Department/Unit: Graduate College > Theses and Dissertations
College of Engineering, Forestry, and Natural Science > Chemistry and Biochemistry
Date Deposited: 10 Jan 2018 17:55
URI: http://openknowledge.nau.edu/id/eprint/4935

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