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How to Address Low Calcium Levels Through Diet & Supplementation
Low calcium levels can lead to osteopenia (slight bone loss) and osteoporosis (severe bone loss).
How Much Calcium is Needed in Our Diet?
Only about 30% of women in the US get enough calcium from their diet alone. For women over 51 years of age and men aged 70+, the RDA (Recommended Daily Allowance) increases from 1000 mg per day to 1200 mg daily.
One must make a conscious effort to consume enough calcium-rich foods to meet the required amount. For example, an 8-ounce cup of low-fat plain yogurt contains 415 mg of calcium. Fortified orange juice, cheeses, sardines (with bones), kale, and chia seeds are among other dietary sources of calcium.
Addressing Deficiencies in Calcium Levels
It is a good idea to calculate how much calcium you get from your foods and make up the deficit by taking the right calcium supplement. The two most popular and widely available forms are calcium carbonate and calcium citrate.
Calcium carbonate contains 40% elemental calcium and requires stomach acid to be absorbed by the body, therefore it should be taken with food.
Calcium citrate, on the other hand, can be taken with or without food. Calcium citrate has 21% elemental calcium but is more readily absorbed.
Calcium gluconate, lactate, or phosphate are also available, but they generally contain less absorbable calcium.
Dicalcium Malate is one of the best forms of calcium (e.g., Osteoforce by Designs for Health).
Another important factor in taking calcium is the amount of calcium your body can absorb. Studies show that the body can only absorb 500 mg of calcium at a time. Therefore, it is best to divide the dose of your calcium supplement. For example, if you’re taking 1000 mg of supplemental calcium, it is better to take 500 mg two times a day to optimize absorption.
Other Ingredients That Are Recommended to Be Present in a Calcium Supplement
Vitamin D – The sunshine nutrient, vitamin D, is necessary for calcium absorption and helps with bone turnover
Magnesium – Based on clinical data, magnesium (Mg) can contribute to bone formation. It is best to keep a 2:1 calcium to magnesium ratio since too much Mg seems to have negative effects on the bone
Vitamin K – Vitamin K is important for calcium to work better. Low vitamin K levels are associated with low bone mineral density and increased fractures
Vitamin C is critical in maintaining the balance necessary for healthy bone mass and is also required for the synthesis of healthy collagen, the primary structural protein in bones.
Zinc – Zinc helps to increase bone formation and mineralization
Copper – Copper helps keep bones flexible and strong
Manganese – Manganese is essential in forming the bone matrix. Calcium and other minerals are then deposited into the matrix
Potassium – Studies have shown that, in older women, potassium intake has a positive correlation with bone health
Boron – Boron and calcium work together to strengthen bones
Considerations When Taking Calcium Supplements
Side Effects – While taking calcium supplements, side effects including gas, constipation, and bloating may occur. In general, calcium carbonate is the most constipating. You may need to try a few different brands or types of calcium supplements to find one that you tolerate the best.
Interactions – Calcium supplements can interact with many prescription medications, such as thyroid hormones, some blood pressure medications, antibiotics, and calcium channel blockers. Ask your doctor or pharmacist about possible interactions and which type of calcium supplement would work for you.
Supplement Form – Calcium supplements come in a variety of forms, including tablets, capsules, chews, liquids, and powders. If you have trouble swallowing pills, you may want a chewable or liquid calcium supplement.
Do You Need a Referral to a Prescriber?
Here to Help
If you have any questions or would like to learn more about your options when it comes to compounding or hormone replacement, please call Community Clinical Pharmacy and we can consult with you and your physician to find the best solution.
We serve the East Valley Metro Area including Mesa, Chandler, Gilbert, and surrounding areas.
Assisting You With Customized Needs at Community Clinical Pharmacy
Community Clinical Pharmacy has been solving problems for Arizona patients for decades. We’re here to provide patients and medical providers with only the highest quality medications and compounding services. Our team is more than happy to help in treatment options for very specific conditions.
Get in touch with us, whether you’re a patient or a provider.
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