Calcium is vital to bone health, and as long as you are getting enough supplements are not necessary. Calcium is a primary building block for strong, healthy bones, especially the bones of the spine. A diet rich in Ca can help prevent spinal problems/issues/conditions like spinal fractures and osteoporosis.
The best and easiest way to get the proper amount of calcium is by eating plenty of Ca-rich foods. However, calcium supplements could be utilized to ensure the proper amount is taken every day. To determine if you may need a calcium supplement talk with your doctor to make sure it’s the best option for you.
Calcium supplements can help individuals reach the daily recommended amount, but they are not intended to replace real Ca-rich foods. If there is enough Ca in your diet, a supplement won’t be necessary, unless there is an underlying condition that doesn’t allow the individual to eat certain Ca-rich foods. However, if there is only a lack of sufficient calcium intake then supplements could help. Otherwise, if there is a continued lack of Ca it could be detrimental to bones and overall health.
Proper Amount Every Day
Before considering a supplement, it’s essential to know how much calcium you should be getting each day. Daily recommendations vary by age and sex but largely depend on age:
- Men and women age 19-50, including pregnant women, require 1,000 mg a day
- Men 51-70 require 1,000 mg a day
- Women 51-70 require 1,200 mg a day
- The elderly 71 and over require 1,200 mg a day
Once you know how much Ca you need, the next step is to evaluate how much to get. The American Bone Health advocacy group recommends using the Calcium Rule of 300 to determine if a supplement is necessary.
The way it works:
- Begin with the number of dairy or juices with added calcium and the amount that is consumed daily.
- Multiply that number by 300.
- Add 300 if a nutritious and balanced diet is being observed
- The total is the proper dietary intake of calcium
- If the total does not meet the recommended number consult a doctor or health coach about a calcium supplement.
If you decide to take a supplement, check out these tips:
- Make sure your doctor/pharmacist know all medications and supplements being taken, this includes over-the-counter products. The reason for this is your doctor wants so be sure they will not interfere with each other or have some kind of negative side effect. An example of this is calcium and iron supplements can prevent each other from properly absorbing into the body when taken together.
- Buy supplements that have the USP Verified symbol, which shows that the supplement has been independently evaluated and certified.
- Rather than taking one high-dose calcium supplement, which could be more than 500-600 mg. Smaller-doses of supplements can be taken 2-3 times throughout the day.
- The body cannot absorb more than 500-600 mg of calcium supplement at once
- Drink plenty of water with the supplement, as certain types can cause constipation
- Don’t take the supplement with a high-fiber meal or laxative. This fiber can prevent the body from fully absorbing the calcium
There are all kinds of nutrients that contribute to the development and maintenance of healthy bones, but calcium is backed by a strong body of evidence that presents a clear connection to bone health. A simple and straight-forward focus on eating foods rich in calcium can help keep the bones of the spine, and entire body for that matter strong and supportive for life-long healthy movement.
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