By Thelma Ledford
Calcium Sources: There are many differing views about calcium supplementation.
This information may help you select the right source of calcium. There are two types of calcium—bound (not absorbable) and unbound (absorbable) calcium. Bound calcium is not absorbed; it ends up being excreted in whole pills. Why do we have to take large amounts of (unbound, absorbable)? It is because it is not made from an “organic” source. The kinds that come from vegetables do not contain enough because of the depleted soil, and people cannot eat enough vegetables.
There are a number of common calcium sources in dietary supplements – calcium carbonate, citrate, citrate-malate, gluconate, lactate, and phosphate. Advertisers each claim theirs to be super in absorption. However, from the material which I have read it seems the percentage of absorption was remarkably similar among all sources. The differences in the absorbability between sources are generally offset by differences in calcium content. Carbonate and phosphate are the highest in calcium concentration, but they are slightly less well-absorbed. Calcium citrate and citrate-malate are slightly better absorbed, but are less concentrated in calcium. Find one that includes them all!
The difference in calcium supplements is in the way they are made. The raw materials must first be tested to ensure their purity. The formulation must be designed to break apart and release the calcium after consumption. This step is critical. Many companies leave this step out. If the tablets are compressed too tightly, or they don’t contain the right proportions of ingredients that promote disintegration and dissolution, then they will pass like rocks through the digestive tract. This explains the fury of the media’s reports of pills of calcium being found in portable johns. The company used the wrong formulation. They must be laboratory tested to ensure proper assimilation within the body.
So although calcium sources may be quite similar in bioavailability; there are big differences in the quality of calcium formulation. Calcium citrate if often said to be the best source for those with too little stomach acid, a condition that affects people sixty years of age and older. Citrate seems to work better if you take it on an empty stomach, but research shows that other calcium sources, like carbonate, work just as well when they are taken with meals. Some people are under the impression that calcium cannot be consumed with food because it might interact with, for example, caffeine in coffee or tea, and thereby reduce the calcium which is absorbed. But, there are more important issues. Research shows that the decrease in calcium absorption due to this kind of interaction is on the order of a scant three mg.
Calcium and all the other minerals such as; zinc, iron, and trace minerals share a common absorption pathway. To ensure balanced absorption of these nutrients take your calcium supplement with a good multivitamin-mineral supplement in order to cover all your nutrient bases.
To maximize absorption, take in doses of 500 mg or less. You may need 1,000 to 1,500 mg daily, for best results, spread your calcium intake throughout the day. Save some calcium to take just before bedtime. As we get older we will need extra vitamin D. And, stay on your calcium supplement to maintain the full bone benefits it provides.
Calcium alone will not ensure that you have strong bones and teeth. There are many things involved in this process.
Look for more on calcium and bone building in another article. Our milk is no longer a good source of usable calcium. Most people never had soft bones or osteoporosis when they drank the unprocessed milk straight from the cow. All the older people I know have lived into their nineties, and have never broken a bone.
There are other problems with dairy products. I have to depend upon supplements and other sources of calcium.
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