With the ever-increasing incidences of osteoporosis, arthritis,
rheumatism and rickets, people are increasingly being aware of the
requirement of calcium for the health of bones. Calcium is required by
the body for a variety of purposes.
Importance of Calcium
essential for many functions in the body, including:
Regulating the heartbeat
Conducting nerve impulses
Stimulating hormone secretions
Clotting of blood
Building and maintaining healthy
Calcium is a mineral found in many foods. Getting enough of this
nutrient is important because the human body cannot make it. Even after
you are fully-grown, adequate calcium intake is important because the
body loses calcium every day through the skin, nails, hair, and sweat,
as well as through urine and feces. This lost calcium must be replaced
daily through the diet. Otherwise, the body takes calcium out of the
bones to perform other functions, making the bones weaker, more fragile
and breakable over time.
Institutes of Health (NIH) Consensus Conference on Osteoporosis
recommends the following calcium
800 mg/day for children
ages 1 to 10 •
1000 mg/day for men, premenopausal women, and postmenopausal women also
1200 mg/day for teenagers and young adults ages 11 to
1500 mg/day for post-menopausal women not taking
1200mg to 1500 mg/day for pregnant women and nursing
The total daily intake of calcium should not exceed 2000
What are calcium
Calcium exists in nature only
in combination with other substances, as a compound. Several different
calcium compounds are used in supplements, including Calcium carbonate,
Calcium phosphate and Calcium citrate.
These compounds contain different amounts of elemental calcium, which is
the actual amount of calcium in the supplement. It is important to read
the label carefully to determine how much elemental calcium is in the
supplement and how many doses or pills to take.
Calcium supplements are available without a prescription in a wide range
of preparations and strengths, which can make selecting one a confusing
experience. Many people ask which calcium supplement they should take.
The best supplement is the one that meets all your needs. Ask yourself
well does my body tolerate this kind of supplement? Does it cause any
side effects (like gas or constipation)? If so, you may want to try
another kind or a different brand.
this kind of supplement convenient? Can I remember to take it as often
as recommended each day?
the cost of this supplement within my budget?
it widely available? Can I buy it at a store near
If answers to all these questions are satisfactory, just grab
it!Words of wisdom
A few points
should be carefully weighed and analyzed before opting for a calcium
: Choose calcium supplements with familiar
brand names. Look for labels that state, "purified". Avoid calcium from
unrefined oyster shell, bone meal, or dolomite because it may contain
high levels of lead or other toxic metals.
: Most brand-name calcium products are
absorbed easily in the body. If you are not sure about your product, you
can find out how well it dissolves by placing it in a small amount of
warm water for 30 minutes and stirring it occasionally. If it hasn't
dissolved within this time, it probably will not dissolve in your
stomach. Chewable and liquid calcium supplements dissolve well because
they are broken down before they enter the stomach.
: Some people develop side effects with
some calcium supplements, such as excessive gas or constipation. If
simple measures (such as increasing your intake of fluids and high-fiber
foods) do not solve the problem, you should try another form of
calcium. Also, it is important to increase the dose of your supplement
gradually: take just 500 mg a day for a week, and then slowly add more
calcium. Do not take more than the recommended amount of calcium without
your doctor's approval.
: It is important to talk to a doctor or
pharmacist about the possible interactions between your over-the-counter
and prescription medications, and calcium supplements. For example,
calcium supplements may reduce the absorption of the antibiotic
tetracycline. Calcium also interferes with iron absorption. So you
should not take a calcium supplement at the same time as an iron
supplement - unless the calcium supplement is calcium citrate, or unless
the iron supplement is taken with vitamin C. Any medication that you
need to take on an empty stomach should not be taken with calcium