Osteoporosis and Calcium Supplementation

Osteoporosis, one of the most terrible long-term consequences of estrogen deficiency, is common among post menopausal women, but it is not inevitable. A healthy diet, especially the consumption of adequate amounts of calcium and other minerals, has a significant part to play in both preventing and in slowing the progression of this disease. Generally, for healthy bones, women require 800 to 1,000 milligrams of calcium daily. During menopause, calcium needs increase to 1,000 to 1,500 milligrams daily.

Examples of food sources of calcium include dairy products, salmon, tuna, sardines, green leafy vegetables and tofu. You must check from time to time to see if your daily diet provides you with an adequate amount of calcium. If your diet falls short of this, or if you are not sure, take a good-quality calcium tablet to give you 1,000 milligrams of calcium daily.

One of the best sources of calcium to combat post menopausal osteoporosis is milk. A cup of milk daily will give a good start to meeting your calcium requirements. When it comes to cow’s milk, calcium-enriched milk is recommended, which is low in fat and much higher in calcium than skim milk. If you are on a dairy-free diet, you may choose calcium-enriched soy milk instead. Some soy milks are calcium-enriched; while others are low in calcium, so it is bets to read labels to be sure the product you purchase is a good source of calcium.

There are a number of different supplemental sources of calcium. Bone meal, which comes from the ground bones of young animals, contains calcium from microcrystalline hydroxyapatite. Bone meal calcium is well absorbed, but it is possible for it to be contaminated with heavy metals such as lead. Calcium carbonate, which contains 40 percent elemental calcium, is the most concentrated and inexpensive form, but its absorption varies. Calcium lactate, calcium citrate and calcium gluconate are less concentrated forms of calcium, containing only about 15 percent elemental calcium but are better absorbed than carbonate forms.

Some calcium supplements contain a mixture of different types of calcium to improve absorption. Many good calcium supplements also contain vitamin D, which enhances the absorption of calcium from the intestines. Calcium is best absorbed when taken on an empty stomach. It should not be taken, however, with high fiber-foods such as cereals, grains and legumes, as this will reduce its absorption. It can be taken with dairy products, fruits, vegetables and meats.

In addition to making sure you obtain enough calcium in your diet, avoid making dietary mistakes that can steal minerals from your bones. Keep your consumption of protein from animal sources to no more than 50 grams daily. This is the equivalent of the amount of protein found in six-ounces serving of meat or fish plus one eight-ounce glass of milk.

Our bones contain magnesium and the trace minerals zinc, boron, silica and manganese in addition to calcium and studies suggest that adequate amounts of all these different minerals are more effective than calcium alone in preventing bone loss during menopause. If you are on menopause and if your diet is not always perfect, it is bets you take a trace mineral tablet that contain all of these minerals.

The Question and Answer Guide to Calcium Supplements!

Calcium Q & A

There is so much misleading information around us, and for the sake of making a profit we the consumers are very often taught to believe that we are giving our body what it needs when in fact we are actually doing little that is helpful to ourselves. Here we will clarify most of the misleading info about calcium.

Which type of Calcium is best?

Mineral supplements such as calcium are made from many different forms of the mineral. Common mineral forms are citrate, malate, gluconate, carbonate, bis-glycinate, micro-crystaline hydroxyapitate, and oxide.

What defines one form as being better than another is mainly it’s ability to be broken down during digestion small enough to cross cell walls and to be absorbed by the human body. The best forms for this are citrate, malate, and bis-glycinate (bis-glycinate is also referred to as chelate, or amino-acid chelate). These have the highest bio-availability (absorbability), and are so close to each other in this that they are all excellent choices.

It doesn’t pay to take other forms of calcium since the body will get limited or no access to the actual mineral. The same recommendation applies to the mineral Magnesium; citrate, malate, and bis-glycinate are best.

Minerals other than calcium may at times have benefits in other forms.

Why does it just say calcium on my bottle, and nothing else?

Better forms are always listed by manufacturers. If a supplement label does not list the form of its vitamins or minerals, then it contains the cheapest, and usually least absorbable form. In this case, calcium carbonate and magnesium oxide.

The most well known form of the mineral calcium and the one put to the most use is calcium carbonate (and of magnesium is magnesium oxide). When calcium and magnesium supplements were pioneered in the first half of the twentieth century these were the forms that were technologically available and used in supplements. It was considered groundbreaking for the industry at the time.

Nowadays, these two forms are considered ancient technology for supplements, as they are the poorest absorbed forms of each mineral respectively, by the human body. They are still used today because they are the cheapest for a manufacturer to purchase.

Does one form of calcium have more calcium than another?

The mineral level of calcium carbonate is the highest of all forms at about 40% elemental (meaning that 40% of calcium carbonate is pure calcium). The next nearest in elemental level is calcium citrate at about 20%.

However, since the carbonate form of calcium is so poorly absorbed by the human body, we’re not actually getting most of that calcium.

Calcium citrate on the other hand is so much more bio-available that even at 20% elemental, calcium citrate provides more calcium to the body than calcium carbonate at 40% elemental, and by a sizable margin.

Calcium malate is similar in elemental level to calcium citrate and may even be more bio-available than citrate.

A bis-glycinate (or amino acid chelate) is not a specific form of mineral but a mineral that has been bonded to an amino-acid which carries the mineral across the cell wall. (Amino-acids are the building blocks of protein, protein is what makes up our muscles and soft tissue).

Why is calcium carbonate so popular with manufacturers?

For starters, it’s the cheapest. Manufacturers also use calcium carbonate for another reason. It allows them to create a simple marketing ploy. Due to calcium carbonates high mineral level, a manufacturer can put 500 mg and sometimes up to 600 mg of this highly nonabsorbent calcium in one tablet. Who wouldn’t be enticed by the statement “you only need two tablets to get your daily dose of calcium?”..when the industry standard is four tablets.

Why are calcium and magnesium tablets always so big?

The problem lies in the fact that as minerals go calcium and magnesium are extremely bulky. They simply cannot be condensed enough to be very small. These mineral products are kept on the bigger side in order to minimize the number of tablets needed to get a required dose. As well, if they were to be divided up into multiple, smaller tablets, we would need to take twice as many tablets to get the recommended amounts of calcium, and magnesium. The problem then is that most people just won’t do it. We’ll take too few, or none, and either way not get the calcium amounts that our bodies need.

Should I take calcium with magnesium?

It’s best to take them together. The body needs both. It also needs to maintain calcium and magnesium in the blood stream in roughly a 2:1 ratio. We should have give or take two times the calcium than magnesium. They work in concert with one another for many functions of the body. For example, calcium is required/utilized by the body in order for us to contract our muscles (to use our muscles) and magnesium is necessary for muscle relaxation. One theory even says that if we take in only calcium, raising our calcium level without raising our magnesium level with it, then the body will release calcium from places (such as bone) and evacuate it out of the body in order to maintain the required 2:1 blood ratio, causing a net calcium loss.

Why do calcium supplements seem to always come with vitamin D3?

Vitamin D3 helps with the body’s ability to absorb the mineral calcium (not the other way around). Vitamin D3 is also essential for the body’s effective usage of calcium.

Vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol) is a synthetic version of the fat soluble vitamin-d and is utilized by plants. The natural version, vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol), is what is utilized by animals and humans. Because it’s natural, the D3 form is not patentable. Drug companies (or anyone else) can patent D2, and have. It’s the reason D2 is what a pharmacy provides.

Can I get my calcium by eating antacid tablets like Tums?

These products use calcium carbonate which is extremely difficult for the body to absorb. This is even if taken with meals when there are digestive enzymes and gastric acid present to breakdown food and absorb nutrients. Moreover, people do not usually take Tums with meals but rather in-between meals as an antacid, when there is no digestion taking place. When taken this way there is actually no gain in calcium benefit to the body.

Calcium like this, that is not well-absorbed, can dilute stomach acid and inhibit digestion, resulting in more of the problem the antacid was originally taken to help. As well, this excess calcium in the blood due to poor absorption (instead of in the cells), can end up as plaque in our arteries. (Also, these antacid products contain lots of sugar, talc, mineral oil, synthetic dyes & artificial flavors.)

What are good food sources of Calcium?

Yogurt and other dairy products, sardines and salmon with bones, green leafy vegetables – the darker the green the better the source (eg. Spinich), fermented soy such as miso, natto, and tempeh, legumes (beans), nuts, broccoli and oranges.

How much calcium do I need?

The National Academy of Sciences, Institute of Medicine recommendations in 2010 are:

Years of age ————– Calcium required per day

1-3 ——————————– 700 mg

4-8 ——————————- 1,000 mg

9-18 —————————— 1,800 mg

19-50 —————————– 1,000 mg

51 & older (women) —————- 1,200 mg

51 – 70 (men) ———————- 1,000 mg

71 – years ————————– 1,200 mg

Pregnant/Lactating-

Women 14 – 18 ——————— 1,300 mg

Pregnant/Lactating-

Women 19 – 50 ———————- 1,000 mg

Now you can not only get the calcium you need but the calcium your body can put to use.

Foods High in Calcium

Calcium is the most prevalent mineral in our bodies. Our bones are a very important storage location for the almost one kilogram of calcium in the average adult body.

If we fail to take in enough calcium we risk developing osteoporosis, which is a disease of the bone that leaves them in a weakened condition and much more subject to breaking.

Although most common in women after menopause, osteoporosis can also develop in men and can also develop in anyone with certain hormonal disorders or some other chronic conditions. Because osteoporosis so greatly affects the structure and strength of the bones, the disease can have a very negative effect on both life expectancy as well as the quality of life.

Perhaps counter intuitively, research has found a relationship between a diet that is high in animal protein (meat) and elevated calcium loss. On the other hand, diets that rely more on cereals, vegetables and fruits have been shown to promote bone density

Given the importance of calcium to our overall health, it is a very good idea to know what foods high in calcium are on your menu.

While dairy is the most traditional source of calcium, other foods high in calcium are:

  • seaweeds like kelp and wakame
  • broccoli
  • beans
  • oranges
  • nuts
  • figs
  • molasses

Obviously most of these foods are not well represented in the modern diet which brings up the case for calcium supplement.

If your diet does not have enough of the foods high in calcium it is a very good idea to add a calcium supplement daily.

While there is a large number of calcium supplements available, one of the best is refined chia seed.

Chia is a plant native to South America, Mexico and the Southwestern U.S. For many hundreds of years, it was used as a primary food source by the native populations, including the Aztecs.

Chia is classified by the FDA as a raw, whole food and is very high in calcium, having some six times the calcium as milk.

Chia is also rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, Iron, Magnesium, dietary fiber, and Potassium.

A Good Source of Calcium – What is a Good Source of Calcium?

There are many natural sources of calcium in both animal and plant diets. Whether you are a vegetarian or a non-vegetarian, there is something for you to obtain optimal levels of calcium from food on a daily basis.

Milk is no doubt a good source of calcium coming from animal sources. However, many people don’t like the taste of it or are allergic to it. They can’t consume other dairy products for that matter and need something else to fulfill their daily calcium needs.

Vegetables also serve as a good source of calcium. Among green leafy vegetables, kale, broccoli, spinach, mustard greens, dandelion greens, turnip greens, and cabbage provide adequate amounts of calcium. You can eat them in their raw or cooked form, make salads or mix them with other food materials to make a healthy, appetizing meal.

Non-dairy sources of calcium include beans, nuts, sea vegetables, fish and seafood. Soy beans, navy beans, white beans, tofu, hazelnuts, walnuts, sardines, salmon, shrimps and oysters come under this category. Canned fish can also be consumed to obtain adequate amounts of calcium. Similarly, sea vegetables are a good source of calcium ideal for those who want to avoid meat and dairy products.

For those who are not allergic to milk, low-fat dairy products like processed cheese, ice cream of all flavors, frozen yoghurt and cream can be used as excellent sources of calcium. Milk is particularly important for growing children and no alternative should be adopted at this stage. However, later on in life, soy milk and soy beverages can be used as an alternative to milk if you find it difficult to digest.

Other than the above-mentioned sources, calcium can also be obtained from dietary supplements such as calcium carbonate and coral calcium supplements. These tablets can be consumed by people of all ages without any reservation since they are made with all pure and natural substances.

If you are looking for coral calcium supplements, try to find the ones made with marine grade Okinawa coral calcium. This is the purest form of this salt and very beneficial for long-term health. It is best absorbed after meals and also helps in digestion.

Calcium citrate is a good source of calcium other than calcium carbonate and calcium phosphate. Many kinds of calcium supplements are available on the market now and they are all very effective and useful.