While many people believe that a healthy diet rich in dairy foods is enough to meet their calcium needs, it isn’t always the case. According to studies done by the American Dietetic Association and others, women over 50 have low dietary calcium intake, with just one-third of them meeting or exceeding the recommended daily intake for calcium.
Women over 50 constitute the greatest proportion of those at risk for osteoporosis, and more than 25 million Americans already have the disease. The good news is that there are many calcium supplements such as chewable tablets and liquid drops that provide excellent sources of absorbable calcium without causing constipation or gas like some of the dairy sources of calcium can.
Here is a look at six calcium supplements that we recommend based on evidence about their safety and efficacy in treating osteoporosis, their ability to prevent bone loss, and their availability.
Why take a calcium supplement?
Most calcium supplements are made from ground oyster shells, dolomite (ground limestone), bone meal, or eggshell. These forms of calcium can cause constipation and may not be absorbed as readily as other forms, such as citrate.
Calcium supplements vary in their solubility and bioavailability, meaning the amount that is absorbed by the body. Bioavailability is important because it determines how much calcium actually gets into your bones and reduces your risk of developing osteoporosis.
Calcium supplements are essential for people who cannot ingest a sufficient amount in their diets or who have difficulty absorbing calcium from food, such as older adults.
In addition to vegans and vegetarians, people who must limit (or eliminate) their intake of dairy products, such as those on a ketogenic diet or with lactose intolerance, may also need to take calcium supplements. Calcium supplements are also sometimes used by people who have had gastric bypass surgery.
Calcium is best absorbed into your body when taken alone, without food. Taking calcium with a meal or within an hour after a meal may decrease its absorption.
For best results, take calcium supplements regularly and get your blood levels of vitamin D checked regularly. Your doctor can determine whether you have sufficient vitamin D for optimal calcium absorption. Although there is no daily requirement for it, some experts recommend taking up to 1,000 IU of vitamin D daily.
6 Best Calcium Supplements
- Elm & Rye Calcium
- Rootine Personalized Daily Multivitamin
- Pure Encapsulations Calcium Citrate
- Vega Sport Pro Calcium
- Nature Made Calcium 750 mg + D + K
- Life Extension Calcium Citrate with Vitamin D
Do you need to take a calcium supplement?
Calcium supplements are recommended for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding since an increased demand of calcium exists in these cases. People with osteoporosis (brittle bones) should talk to their doctor about whether they should take calcium supplements and about the types that may be best for them.
You can also get calcium from foods or drinks that contain calcium, such as dairy products (milk, yogurt), orange juice with added calcium, soy products (tofu made with calcium sulfate; soybeans, tofu made with nigari), certain greens (collard and turnip greens; kale), canned fish with soft bones (sardines, anchovies), and fortified foods.
If you do not eat enough calcium from food, consider taking a calcium supplement. Supplements are available with different quantities of elemental calcium on the label. The amount of elemental calcium listed on a label is equal to 1 milligram or 1,000 milligrams. For example, a 500-milligram tablet contains 250 milligrams of elemental calcium.
You should consume 1,500 to 2,000 mg of calcium each day to keep your bones strong and healthy as you age.
Can I take calcium every day?
Yes. The body has a natural regulating system to control how much calcium stays in your blood and bones, so you can take a calcium supplement every day, with the exception of very large doses.
Calcium supplements are not associated with kidney stones or other adverse effects if taken at recommended dosages. Recommended dosages vary by product and range from 200 to 1,000 milligrams per day.
How do I take calcium supplements?
Calcium supplements are available as tablets, capsules, powders you can mix with water or other liquids, chewable tablets, and even as a liquid. Most supplements come in several different dosages so you can choose the one that best meets your needs.
Calcium supplements can be taken with or without food, but for best results, take them without food.
What are the different types of calcium?
Three types of calcium are typically used in supplements: calcium carbonate, calcium citrate, and tricalcium phosphate. Talk to your doctor about which type might be best for you.
Calcium carbonate contains 40 percent calcium, so it’s a higher dose of elemental calcium than the other forms. Calcium citrate contains 21 percent calcium and is a good choice for people who have low stomach acid since it is more readily absorbed in an acidic environment.
Tricalcium phosphate contains 18 percent calcium and may be a good choice for people who have a higher risk of kidney stones since it is less likely to be absorbed by the intestine.
Calcium supplements may come from plant or animal sources, including oyster shells and bone meal. Diatomaceous earth also contains calcium, but it must be specially processed to remove heavy metals such as lead and mercury that are sometimes found in the earth.
Which types of calcium supplements are vegan?
Calcium carbonate, tricalcium phosphate, and dolomite (a type of rock) are all suitable for vegans because they do not contain animal byproducts. Calcium citrate is suitable for lacto-vegetarians since it may be derived from animal sources.
Chewable tablets are often flavored, making them a good option for people who don’t like the taste of calcium supplements. They may also be easier to chew for people with weak or sensitive teeth.
What about other minerals?
Calcium supplements primarily serve as building blocks for bone and teeth. Other important nutrients for bone health, such as magnesium and vitamin D, are often found in supplements or multivitamins.
Calcium may be paired with other minerals. For example, calcium magnesium citrate is a popular supplement that contains about 50 percent elemental calcium and 20 percent elemental magnesium.
Vitamin D helps the body absorb more calcium from food and supplements, and the sun triggers vitamin D production in the skin. Vitamin D deficiency is a risk factor for osteoporosis and may increase the risk of certain cancers.
We hope that you liked this article about the best calcium supplements. Remember that it’s important to take a supplement with vitamin D and magnesium, as well as eat foods that contain these minerals.
This article has been supplied by Verma Media, a paid advertiser. Content has not been independently verified by Los Angeles magazine.