Do I Need a Calcium Supplement?
The consumer interest in calcium supplements continues to increase, as a growing number of people encounter the side effects of a calcium deficiency. More than 25 million Americans have been diagnosed with osteoporosis, a bone disorder linked to a calcium shortage in the body.
What is Calcium?
Calcium is the essential mineral in your body that makes up bones and teeth, and keeps them strong and healthy. Your bones and teeth contain 99% of your body's calcium, with the remaining 1% occurring in your
blood and soft tissues where it is an essential component of various body functions such as blood clotting, muscle contraction, maintaining a regular heart beat and the operation of your nervous system.
How Does a Calcium Deficiency Occur?
When your diet lacks sufficient calcium for the optimal functioning of all the different systems that depend on it, your body steals the calcium it needs from your bones, teeth and other tissues, and uses it for more essential tasks. As a result, the calcium level in your bones and teeth is reduced leaving them fragile and prone to damage.
Unfortunately, calcium deficiencies are very common in the general population. A 1996 study conducted by the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) states that "virtually all Americans are deficient in calcium".
Can I Have Too Much Calcium?
Are there any side effects involved in taking calcium supplements? Is it true that they cause kidney stones? Research indicates that taking high doses of calcium over long periods of time can increase the risk of kidney stones. Another study has indicated that taking a lower dose of calcium can actually help prevent kidney stones. Therefore, people who suffer from this condition should be extra careful that they do not exceed the RDA value (1200 mg).
Calcium Rich Foods
Even though milk and dairy products contain calcium, these products are highly processed and can cause more damage than good. There are better calcium sources available that promote health without introducing unnecessary additives into the body.
Other sources of calcium include: soybeans, tofu, peanuts, walnuts, kale, broccoli, sardines, and salmon.
Choosing Calcium Mineral Supplements Wisely
Since most adults do not consume sufficient amounts of calcium in their daily diet, a calcium supplement is often necessary to promote general health.
Here are some tips and precautions to help you find the best calcium supplement.
- Is Your Calcium Supplement Easily Absorbed?
The body's ability to absorb calcium depends on both the level of stomach acid in your body and the solubility of the calcium compound you are ingesting. As the production of stomach acid decreases with age, it becomes more important to take a calcium supplement that contains a more easily absorbed form of calcium.
Many supplements contain a cheap form of calcium carbonate. Although this type provides more elemental calcium than calcium citrate, which is another form of calcium, it is less easily absorbed by the body and can be more likely to cause gas or constipation.
Calcium citrate, on the other hand, is a form that is more easily used by the body, and its absorption does not depend on the amount of stomach acid, which can increase the mineral's absorption into the bloodstream.We do not recommend calcium supplements produced from bonemeal, dolomite or oyster shells as these may contain high levels of lead, which can be toxic.
- Synergy with Other Nutrients
Your body cannot absorb calcium without sufficient vitamin D, and any supplement will be useless unless there are sufficient amounts of this vitamin in the body.
Magnesium is another important mineral, which works together with calcium to control muscle action.
Calcium also functions better in the presence of vitamins A and C, and the minerals iron and phosphorus, and the trace minerals zinc, boron, manganese and strontium.Therefore, a complete calcium supplement should address all these issues, and provide the appropriate amounts of all of these nutrients, to ensure the maximum benefits to your health.
- Choose a Good Supplement Maker
Potency and efficacy of any kind of the product highly depend on the company behind the manufacturing. Nutritional health supplements are classified as food products, and they have been regulated by FDA since 1994. But they are not controlled as strictly as the standards governing the sale of drugs. There is no guarantee that what's stated on the label is what you will find in the bottle.