Monthly Archives: July 2006

Choosing The Best Calcium Supplement

Choosing the best calcium supplement requires the skill of filtering through endless marketing choices coupled with some basic education on calcium terminology.

Calcium is a mineral required for the activation of several enzyme functions throughout the body and optimal function of all body processes. Calcium is known as a coenzyme required for regulating the heartbeat and blood pressure, the normal contraction of muscles, prevention of cardiovascular disease, for conduction of nerve impulses, is involved in blood clotting, maintaining strong healthy bones and teeth and helps to prevent the absorption of lead.

Calcium is blended with other compounds to form a pill, There are numerous types of calcium on the market, from bone meal, oyster shell calcium and calcium carbonate, coral calcium, chelated calcium, calcium phosphate, calcium gluconate, calcium lactate and calcium citrate; even TUMS has been marketed as a calcium supplement….whoooah..overload!!! Which type does one choose?

Types of Calcium in Supplements

  • Calcium citrate is currently the best type of calcium on the market and is easily absorbed. It can be taken anytime during the day, even on an empty stomach, although I generally recommend taking Calcium Magnesium pills at bedtime to enhance sleep and relaxation.
  • Oyster shell calcium, bone meal and dolomite: these naturally occuring calciums may contain heavy metals, including lead, and have a low absorption rate.
  • Coral Calcium has been associated with many cure-all claims, (to me, this is always a sign to be a little wary) and is essentially a calcium carbonate supplement, one not well absorbed by the body!
  • Contrary to brilliant marketing…TUMS is not an adequate calcium supplement. In fact, this is a terribly misleading claim…First, the calcium found in TUMS is a carbonate source, not well asorbed by the body; plus TUMS is an antacid (antacid= it decreases the amount of hydrochloric acid in the stomach), ironic though… that our body requires adequate levels of hydrochloric acid (stomach acid) for any calcium absorption to occur. So even though TUMS contains calcium, be-it a source already poorly absorbed, the fact that TUMS functions to neutralise stomach acid renders the calcium almost useless to the body.
  • Calcium lactate and calcium gluconate: These products contain a low content of elemental calcium. Thus large dosages of these products are required to meet the daily recommended allowance.

Other Minerals in a Calcium Supplement?

1. Always take Calcium together with Magnesium.The mineral, magnesium, is a catalyst enzyme used to ensure that all the calcium absorbed into the bones, stays in the bones…A lack of magnesium interferes with nerve and muscle message relay and deficiencies can cause muscle weakness, muscle twitching and symptoms of PMS. A high consumption of meat, increased amounts of Vitamin D and Zinc all increase the bodies need for magnesium.

2. Vitamin D: known as the sunshine vitamin, one of the only vitamins the body cannot manufacture on its own.Stimulates absorption of Calcium.

3. Zinc: a mineral involved in the absorption of Calcium.

4. Boron: A trace mineral used for healthy bones and muscles, assists the metabolization of calcium and magnesium. Studies indicate that boron can help prevent post menopausal osteoperosis and build muscle.

These trace nutrients can assist the absorption of calcium, helping this mineral stay in strong healthy bones -where it belongs.

How Much Calcium to Take?

The National Osteoporosis Foundation and the National Acadamy of Sciences recommend the daily allowance (RDA) of calcium at 1000-1200 mg daily for adult men and women.

For a pill to contain this dosage unit, it would be very large and difficult to swallow, thus it is necessary to take 3-4 pills per day to meet the recommended daily allowance.

Fast Facts on Elemental Calcium

Always identify the amount of elemental calcium, (found by reading the fine print on the label) when choosing a calcium pill.

Labelling is often misleading, the elemental calcium is the actual amount of calcium that your body can absorb, and it is always lower than the total calcium. Avoid getting mislead by labels, some manufactures do not even identify the elemental calcium amount on the label and unless you are educated about the elemental calcium level, it would appear that you are getting a higher amount of calcium than you actually are.

If the product label does not identify the elemental calcium levels, then choose another brand!

For example, a pill containing 500mg of Calcium Carbonate provides 200mg of elemental calcium. Hence one pill, in this example, only provides 200mg of calcium, not 500mg… Meaning that you would need to take 5-7 pills daily (not 2-3 pills) to reach the daily RDA of 1000-1200 mg.

For more information on quality calcium magnesium supplements visit our online holistic health market at Alchemy & Elixir Health Group

~ written by Katolen Yardley, MNIMH, Medical Herbalist