I’m retired now, and for many people my age getting enough calcium is a big part of maintaining a healthy body. Getting enough calcium can be the difference between falling over and breaking a bone, and just falling over. I know that I have been vigilant in my calcium intake because I don’t want to find out the hard way about the state of my bone health. A broken bone in old age can be highly difficult to recover from as you take longer to heal and are less mobile.
Calcium can be found in a variety of different foods like:
- Dairy foods (yogurt, milk and cheese)
- Dark leafy greens (kale and spinach)
- Sardines (with the bones in)
- Calcium fortified products
You may be at risk of not getting enough calcium through your diet if you:
- Have lactose intolerance
- Eat a lot of protein or sodium (both of which can cause your body to excrete calcium)
- Have osteoporosis
- Have long term corticosteroid treatment
If you’re not getting enough calcium in your diet alone, you need to think about getting involved in taking a calcium supplement. While there is no osteoporosis cure, there are ways to ensure that you’re less likely to fall foul of brittle and weak bones. One of these is to take a calcium supplement, but how do you know which one is for you? Let’s take a look at how to choose the right calcium supplement.
1. Know how much elemental calcium is in the supplement
This will tell you how much calcium is in the supplement that you’re taking, and it’s what your body is going to absorb for your bone health. You can find out about the elemental calcium by reading the label and figuring out how much is in one serving. For example, calcium carbonate is 40 percent elemental calcium, so 1,250 mg of this contains 500mg of elemental calcium. The best way to find out how much is in each tablet in a bottle is by looking at the recommended daily amount.
Figuring out the bioavialability will allow you to understand how much calcium that is contained in the supplement that an be digested and used for health benefits. It’s all very well and good to take a calcium supplement that is very high in calcium but it’s not good if you’re not taking it in and simply excreting it. Your body needs to be able to absorb it and all varieties of supplements are better absorbed when taken in small doses of around 500mg or less at a mealtime.
3. What kind of calcium?
Calcium Carbonate: One of the best concentrations of elemental calcium (35-40%), isn’t very high in bioavailability. Needs the production of extra stomach acid in order to be absorbed. A common form of calcium supplement, this is an alkaline-based compound found in limestone, shells of marine animals, rocks, pearls, egg shells and snails.
Calcium Citrate: Acidic base, doesn’t require much stomach acid to be absorbed. Has a better absorption rate than from calcium carbonate.
Oyster Shell Calcium: A calcium difficult to quality-control found to show levels of lead toxins. In general, “natural forms” of calcium should be avoided.
Calcium Lactate: In foods like aged cheese and baking powder. Most commonly used antacid, added to fruits to keep them firm and extend shelf life. Has a medium bioavailability in the body because it can be absorbed at various pHs.
Calcium supplements don’t cause many (if any) side effects though you might occasionally get side effects like gas and constipation. if this happens, try a few different kinds and always avoid tablets with binders, release agents, coating and polishing.
I hope you have found this short guide useful!
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