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Calcium and calcium supplements: Achieving the right balance

Calcium is essential for bone health throughout life. Although calcium is ideally obtained via food, calcium tablets may be an alternative if your diet falls short.

Before considering calcium supplements, make sure you understand how much calcium you need, the benefits and drawbacks of calcium supplements, and the best kind of supplement to use.

Calcium’s Advantages

Calcium is required by your body to develop and maintain healthy bones. Calcium is also required for healthy cardiac, muscle, and nerve function.

Some research suggests that calcium, in conjunction with vitamin D, may offer advantages other than bone health, such as protection against cancer, diabetes, and high blood pressure. However, the evidence for such health advantages is inconclusive.

Do calcium supplements pose any dangers?

Calcium supplements are not suitable for everyone. For example, if you have a medical condition that produces an excess of calcium in your blood (hypercalcemia), you should avoid calcium supplements.

Although the evidence is not conclusive, there may be a connection between high-dose calcium supplements and heart disease. The data is conflicting, and more study is required before physicians can determine the impact calcium supplements may have on the chance of having a heart attack.

A similar debate exists about calcium and prostate cancer. High calcium consumption from dairy products and supplements has been linked to an increased risk of prostate cancer in some studies, but more recent research found no link between total calcium, dietary calcium, or supplementary calcium intake and an increased risk of prostate cancer.

Until more is known about these potential dangers, it is critical to avoid consuming excessive quantities of calcium. As with any health problem, it is important to consult with your doctor to decide what is best for you.

Calcium supplement types

Calcium supplements include a wide range of calcium compounds. Each combination includes different quantities of the mineral calcium, often known as elemental calcium. 

Calcium supplements are classified into two types: carbonate and citrate. Calcium carbonate is the least expensive and, as a result, is often a suitable initial option. Gluconate and lactate are two more types of calcium found in supplements.

Furthermore, certain calcium supplements are mixed with vitamins and minerals. Some calcium supplements, for example, may also include vitamin D or magnesium. Check the ingredient list to discover what kind of calcium your calcium supplement contains, as well as what additional minerals it may include. If you have any health or nutritional issues, this information is critical.

Selecting Calcium Supplements

Consider the following while shopping for calcium supplements:

Calcium content

Elemental calcium is significant since it represents the quantity of calcium in the supplement. It is what your body absorbs in order to promote bone development and other health advantages.

The Supplement Facts label on calcium supplements may help you figure out how much calcium is in each dose. Calcium carbonate, for example, is 40% elemental calcium, thus 1,250 milligrams (mg) of calcium carbonate contains 500 mg of elemental calcium. When calculating how much calcium is in one serving, keep the serving size (number of pills) in mind.

Tolerability

Calcium supplements have very little, if any, negative side effects. However, adverse symptoms such as gas, constipation, and bloating may develop.

Calcium carbonate is the most constipating in general. You may need to experiment with a few different brands or kinds of calcium supplements to discover the one that works best for you.

 What medications do you take?

Many prescription medicines, including blood pressure medications, synthetic thyroid hormones, bisphosphonates, antibiotics, and calcium channel blockers, may interact with calcium supplements.

You may need to take the supplement with or between meals, depending on your medicines. Inquire with your doctor or pharmacist about potential interactions and the best kind of calcium supplement for you.

Cost and quality

Manufacturers are responsible for assuring the safety of supplements and the accuracy of claims. Some businesses have their goods independently evaluated by the United States Pharmacopeial Convention (USP), ConsumerLab.com (CL), or NSF International. Supplements with the abbreviations USP, CL, or NSF satisfy voluntary industry standards for quality, purity, potency, and tablet disintegration or dissolving. Calcium supplements come in a variety of price ranges. If money is an issue for you, compare prices.

Absorbability

Calcium must be able to be absorbed by your body in order for it to be effective. Calcium supplements of all kinds are best absorbed when taken in modest amounts (500 mg or less) during mealtimes.

Calcium citrate is absorbed equally effectively with or without food and is a type suggested for those with low stomach acid (more frequent in adults over 50 or on acid blockers), inflammatory bowel illness, or absorption problems.

More is not always better: there are dangers to having too much calcium.

Dietary calcium is usually safe, but more is not always better, and too much calcium does not offer further bone protection.

You may be receiving more calcium than you think if you take calcium supplements and consume calcium-fortified foods. Examine food and supplement labels to see how much total calcium you are receiving per day and if you are meeting the RDA but not exceeding the maximum limit. If you use calcium supplements, be sure to inform your doctor.

Author Bio
John is a doctor by profession and a fitness freak by heart. He believes the key to a happy life is a healthy life. John emphasises a lot on how medication and supplements can not only prolong your life but also improve your standard of living.

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