Our whole lives, we are told that we need calcium in order to grow strong bones. This is why it is so important for children to have calcium-fortified vitamins while they are growing. But what about after you are done growing? If calcium is needed to grow strong bones, then it would make sense if that need died down after you were finished growing. Unfortunately, that isn’t exactly the case. The harsh reality is that our bones lose calcium every day, which means you need to replace that calcium if you want to avoid osteoporosis.
Sadly, it is really difficult to get enough calcium from diet alone. Possible? Absolutely. But according to Dr Schousboe at the Mayo Clinic, it is incredibly unlikely. For this reason, Schousboe recommends taking a daily calcium supplement. But if you want to really get the most of your supplement, you need to take things just a little bit further.
Before you start taking any kind of supplement, look at the label first. Vitamin experts agree that it isn’t helpful to take more than 500mg of calcium at a time because your body simply cannot absorb anything beyond that. So if a pill contains more than 500mg of calcium, it is a waste of money. If your doctor recommends that you take more than 500mg a day, Dr. Schousboe says that you should simply take a second pill later on in the day.
You also want to make sure that none of your supplements contain magnesium stearate, since this can actually prevent your body from fully absorbing the calcium. Your calcium supplement isn’t going to do you any good if your body can’t absorb it. Since Vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium, a Vitamin D deficiency will also keep your calcium supplement from being effective. For this reason, Schousboe recommends taking a Vitamin D supplement along with your calcium. A lot of calcium supplements contain Vitamin D, so you might not even need to buy a separate D supplement on its own.
Next, make sure you always take your calcium supplement with food. Although calcium supplements containing calcium citrate should be fine, certain supplements can cause kidney stones when taken on an empty stomach. Play it safe and avoid a disaster by taking all of your supplements after eating.
Of course, you need to know exactly where your calcium levels are before you know how much you should be taking on a daily basis. So before you start any kind of supplement program you should have a discussion with your doctor so you can determine what will be most beneficial for your body. If it turns out that you don’t need a supplement, then great. But if you are like the majority of adults and your doctor recommends taking a supplement, following these tips will make every milligram count.