Smart supplementation and proper nutrition are among the biggest factors and play a large role in an individual’s health. You are what you eat is true. Feeding the body with vital vitamins and minerals promotes growth and healing. Filling up on processed, fatty foods does the opposite. The bones in the spine and throughout the body need nutrients to continue to rebuild and maintain strength throughout life. A balanced diet rich in:
- Vitamin D
This is the best way to nourish the body’s bones and ward off spinal problems like spinal fractures and osteoporosis. Inadequate diets or medical issues can create nutritional gaps. This is where vitamins or mineral supplements come in. Supplements are not a cure-all, but they can create a safety health net when taken properly.
These supplements for bone health fill in nutritional gaps. They are unnecessary if the key nutrients the body needs from a proper diet are already there. However, individuals use supplements as a replacement for certain foods; this is not how they should be used. Actual food supplies multiple nutrients, along with minerals and vitamins that are beneficial for health and are not found in supplements.
Taking a Supplement to Strengthen the Spine
The body’s dietary needs change throughout life, so adding supplements as you age or during pregnancy can help maintain health. Calcium and vitamin D requirements vary based on age and sex. Certain individuals may need supplements to ensure their bodies are processing calcium and vitamin D properly when it comes to protecting spine bone health.
- Individuals who had intestinal bypass procedure
- Those with food absorption conditions, like Celiac or Crohn’s disease
- People who eat few or no dairy products, like vegans or those that are lactose intolerant
Is a calcium supplement right for you?
The only way to know definitively is by having a conversation with your doctor. Then you can supplement smart.
Because nutritional supplements can be purchased over the counter, individuals assume incorrectly that they are completely safe. Dietary supplements can interfere with absorption, other supplements, and medications and can be toxic if taken in high doses.
- Calcium and iron supplements can prevent each other from being fully absorbed when taken together. This is true of many minerals, including magnesium, because they get into absorption competition with each other and so are best taken separately.
- Supplements taken together can cause too much of either one to be absorbed. This is the case with high-dose vitamin D supplements, which can cause too much calcium absorption.
- Too much calcium can increase the risk of a heart attack or stroke. Taking more than 1,000-1,200 mg of calcium daily is pointless because the body cannot process that much calcium at once.
Are your supplements helping or hurting you? The best way to know is to talk to your doctor whenever you change medication or a supplement program, even when adding a new vitamin to the mix. An underused resource for supplement advice is a pharmacist. They will know whether the mix of supplements and medicines being taken pose any risk of negative interaction. And a pharmacist can help recommend a trustworthy product.
Here are a few tips to get the most benefits if you and your doctor think a calcium supplement can help support spinal bone health.
- Buy supplements with the USP symbol. This indicates that the supplement has been independently evaluated and certified.
- Take your supplement as directed, ideally with a meal.
- Take doses no higher than 500-600 mg, no more than 2-3 times a day, for a maximum of 1,000-1,200 mg.
- Drink plenty of water, as some supplements can cause constipation.
- Do not take calcium supplements with a high-fiber meal or laxatives. This can interfere with calcium absorption.
Supplements Support Spine Health
Remember that supplements are exactly that supplements. Eating foods rich in calcium, vitamin D, and magnesium is the best way to build/maintain strong, healthy spinal bones and prevent debilitating health problems. If you are concerned about your diet, talk with your doctor or a health coach about a smart supplementation regimen to meet your nutritional needs.
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The information herein on "Supplement Smart for Spine Health" is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional, or licensed physician, and is not medical advice. We encourage you to make your own healthcare decisions based on your research and partnership with a qualified healthcare professional.
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Dr. Alex Jimenez DC, MSACP, CCST, IFMCP*, CIFM*, ATN*
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Dr. Alex Jimenez DC, MSACP, CIFM*, IFMCP*, ATN*, CCST
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