Lifestyle and Osteoporosis Importance of Calcium and Supplements

Dr. Reeja Tharu
Medically Reviewed by The Medindia Medical Review Team  on Oct 17, 2013
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Importance of calcium and supplements

Calcium is a mineral found in many foods and adequate calcium intake is important because the human body cannot produce calcium. Even after reaching full skeletal growth, adequate calcium intake is important because the body loses calcium every day through shed skin, nails, hair, and sweat as well as through urine and feces. This lost calcium must be replaced daily through the diet. When the diet does not contain enough calcium to perform these activities, calcium is taken from the bones, the storage area for calcium.

If taking calcium supplements the following points should be kept in mind.

Purity

Look for labels that state "purified" or have been recommended by the physician. Avoid calcium from unrefined oyster shell, bone meal or dolomite. 

Absorbability

Most brand name calcium products are absorbed easily in the body. If the product information does not state that it is absorbable, how well a tablet dissolves can be determined by placing it in a small amount of warm water for 30 minutes, stirring it occasionally. If it hasn’t dissolved within this time it probably will not dissolve in the stomach. Chewable and liquid calcium supplements dissolve well because they are broken down before they enter the stomach.

Calcium, whether from the diet or supplements, is absorbed best by the body when it is taken several times a day in amounts of 500 mg or less, but taking it all at once is better than not taking it at all. Calcium carbonate is absorbed best when taken with food. Calcium citrate can be taken any time.

Tolerance

While calcium supplements generally are a satisfactory option for many people, certain preparations may cause side effects, such as gas or constipation, in some individuals. Therefore it should be taken in small amounts for testing and then taken regularly.

Calcium Interactions

It is important to talk with a physician or pharmacist about possible interactions between prescription or over-the-counter medications and calcium supplements.

Keeping the above points in mind help to choose the best calcium supplement for an individual and compensate for the lost calcium as well a supply the requisite amount of calcium to the body.

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