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.