Calcium Supplements: The Only Guide You Need.

Not sure if you need calcium supplements? Read this guide first!

Just like any other nutritional element, calcium is an important part of our daily nutrition and its role in maintaining a good health cannot be overemphasized.

Calcium is the most abundant element in the body. It’s the major component of important structures in the body. Calcium constitutes a large percentage of bone composition, calcium in the form of hydroxyapatite makes up about 70% of the bone mass, while about 20% of the calcium in the body can be found in the teeth. In all, about 90% of the calcium component is found in the teeth and the bony framework of the body.

Other calcium in the body play critical role in various physiological processes and are not found in structural forms. More would be written on the benefits and role of calcium in the later part of this article.

Since the deficiency of calcium has been associated with various diseases, both in young children and in older people, especially women above the menopausal age. It’s important for those with this deficiency to find a way of making up for the lacked calcium, and this is where calcium supplements comes into play.

Under normal circumstances, the calcium component of the food we eat on daily basis contains enough amount of calcium to keep our body in good condition. The recommended daily allowance of calcium intake for adult is between 1000-1300 mg/day, while that of children is between 200-700mg per day, depending on their age.

This quantity of calcium should normally be present in the regular food we take on daily basis, however research shows that about one-third of Americans are not getting enough calcium in their diet. This is probably due to the fact that, some people are selectively vegans, some are allergic to diary food which is one of the common source of calcium in the diet, while some are suffering from lactose intolerance.

What this implies is that, for every three hundred (300) Americans you select at random, about one hundred (100) of them are suffering from the deficiency of calcium. This set of people could benefit greatly from the use of calcium supplements.

Although, a section of this article would examine in details, what the deficiency of calcium is, but here are few diseases associated with calcium deficiency in the body system; osteoporosis, rickets, poor blood clotting, etc.

On the other hand, it should be noted that everything with a profound merit usually has its own side effect. This is to point out that although calcium is good for the body and its deficiency might pose potential risk to the overall well-being, excess consumption of calcium has its own demerit as well.

Consuming too much of calcium makes it difficult for the body to metabolize it effectively. Since the body needs Vitamin D to conveniently metabolize calcium, it’s important to ensure that the intake of calcium supplements is balanced with that of Vitamin D.

Benefits of calcium supplements

Are calcium supplements effective? Do calcium supplements work?

In the initial part of this post, I mentioned the fact that, for those that are not vegan, and those not allergic to milk, soy milk and other common source of calcium in nutrition, then they have no need for taking calcium supplements.

But if the doctor recommends calcium supplements, or you’re allergic to most food that provides calcium in the nutrition, then calcium supplements would be highly beneficial for you. Vegans would also benefit from the usage of calcium supplements because a larger percentage of the food consumed by vegans lack calcium.

Since the function of calcium supplements is to serve as replacement or therapy for the deficiency of calcium in the body. Then the benefits of calcium supplements would equal the benefit of calcium in the body system.

Bone Health:

Osteoporosis is a very common disease among women of menopausal age. The cause of this disease is often attributed to the depletion in the calcium component of the bone. What this implies is that, the usage of calcium supplement would reduce the risk of osteoporosis and other disorder related to calcium deficiency in the body.

Neurotransmitter Release:

The brain controls various system of the body by the release of substance called neurotransmitter. These neurotransmitters are very crucial in the mediation of the action of the brain on local organ.

Calcium is important in the release of these neurotransmitters in local organs.

Deficiency of calcium has been associated with disorder of muscle contraction and disorder. According to this research, calcium has also been implicated in the transmission of information between neurons across the synaptic gap.

Enzyme and Hormone Function:

Calcium ion, just like every other nutritional metals, play an important role in the production of various enzymes and hormones for the body usage.

When the level of calcium in the blood stream is low, the body would eventually reach out to the bones to withdraw some calcium for the formation of these hormones and enzymes.

Continued withdrawal of calcium from the bone would affect the bone health and result into easy fracture of bone under little stress.

Taking calcium supplements in cases of calcium deficiency would prevent the occurrence of such incidence.

Healthy Teeth:

For kids and teens, the amount of calcium in the body determines how strong their teeth would be. Because calcium plays a vital role in ensuring strong gum that hold the teeth in place throughout life.

When teethes are firmly held by the gum, then bacterial would not be able to invest the gum and as a result the teeth would remain sturdy throughout life.

The intake of calcium at the appropriate dosage is beneficial in this regards, especially for kids and teen, in such a way, they would grow a naturally strong teeth and gum.

Blood Pressure Control:

Various studies have been conducted to examine the effect of calcium on the human blood pressure.

While the result of those research are not definitive enough to conclude that calcium alone can help control blood pressure, the research shows that calcium alongside fruits and vegetables are capable of regulating the blood pressure in human beings.

Weight Management:

This study, and this study shows that increased calcium intake can help reduce weight gain and also lower body weight over time.

Prevention Of Colon Cancer:

Calcium has been show to play an important role in the reduction of the occurrence of colon cancer. Calcium supplements and calcium from other dietary source generally plays a protective role in the occurrence of colon cancer.

Cardiovascular Disease:

According to research by the institute of medicine, it’s been shown that calcium plays a role in reducing the risk of cardiovascular diseases, by getting rid of cholesterol in the body system, through excretion of lipids and reduced absorption of lipids. (It should be noted that taking calcium without Vitamin D might increase the risk of cardiovascular disease)

Having examine some of the benefits of calcium supplements, then it’s appropriate to look into various types of calcium supplements that are available in the market, and which one if appropriate for use.

Types of calcium supplements


The major difference between the calcium supplements available in the market is the amount of elemental calcium present in the supplements. What this means is that, calcium supplements is usually not just made up of calcium, but rather, it’s made up of calcium alongside other compounds.

The common types of calcium supplements are:

Calcium Carbonate:

This calcium supplement has the highest amount of elemental calcium of all the calcium supplements. About 40% elemental calcium, however, it’s been shown to have low bioavailability, such that the amount of calcium that is eventually absorbed by the body from calcium carbonate in-take is considerably low. It is however, the most common type of calcium supplement in market, and it’s the cheapest of all the calcium supplements.

Calcium Citrate:

The elemental calcium present in calcium citrate is about 20%, which is significantly low when compared to calcium carbonate. However, the bioavailability of calcium citrate is higher than that of calcium carbonate because of its acidic nature, making it easier to absorb along the gastrointestinal tract.

Calcium Gluconate:

This type of calcium supplement is known to have low level of elemental calcium in it, about 9%. What this means is that, you would have to get a large dose of calcium gluconate before getting enough of the calcium your body requires.

Calcium Lactate:

The bioavailability of this type of calcium supplement is not particularly high. The elemental calcium present in calcium lactate is about 13%. It’s not a very common type of calcium supplement.

There are also liquid calcium supplements that perform the same function like the tablet form with the difference being their solubility in water. Calcium Citrate Malate is an example of water soluble calcium. It’s made up of calcium found in citric acid and malic acid. Because of its solubility in water, the bioavailability is considerably high.

Depending on the manufacturer, there are other forms of calcium combined with some other important element. Example of which are; calcium and magnesium supplement combined in a single tablet. There are also calcium and vitamin D supplements tablet.

Calcium supplements for kids:

If your child is not getting enough calcium, then it’s important to find a way of supplementing their calcium intake.

Some kids might choose not to take foods that contain calcium, which would result into its deficiency in their body since they are not getting enough calcium from the food they are eating.

Some are allergic to diary products why some due to lactose intolerance would generally avoid milk and other natural source dietary calcium. In cases like this; it’s important to get them calcium supplements, or better consult with your doctor and talk with him or her about possible diet adjustment that would favor your kids calcium intake.

But remember, that calcium is very essential for kids and teens so as to get a strong bone and good strong teeth.

Taking Calcium Supplements:


How much calcium should I take?

Even though calcium is considered less toxic as compared to other metals, it’s still very important to take the right amount of calcium in the appropriate manner in other to maintain a proper balance in the body’s calcium level.

There are no special guides on how to take calcium supplements, other than following the right calcium supplements dosage (Check Below) and taking the supplement alongside vitamin D. Because Vitamin D is responsible for the absorption of calcium into the blood stream, it’s important to strike a balance in the consumption of vitamin D and calcium supplements.

The best way to take calcium supplements is to do so in the morning after meal and spread out the dosage across the rest of the day. What this means is that, if you are to take 1000mg of calcium as an adult daily, you can split the intake into two; which is about 500mg in the morning and the remaining 500mg is the evening. The reason for this is to ensure maximum absorbability of the calcium supplements.

There are varieties of calcium component, ranging from liquid, to powder, tablet and chewable calcium supplements; your choice depends mainly on your discretion. If you generally don’t like swallowing tablets, you might opt for the chewable form of calcium supplement.

Recommended Daily Allowance Of Calcium:

The data below represents the recommended daily value of calcium intake.

Age

Male

Female

Pregnant

Lactating

0–6 months*

200 mg

200 mg

 

 

7–12 months*

260 mg

260 mg

 

 

1–3 years

700 mg

700 mg

 

 

4–8 years

1,000 mg

1,000 mg

 

 

 9–13 years

1,300 mg

1,300 mg

 

 

14–18 years

1,300 mg

1,300 mg

1,300 mg

1,300 mg

19–50 years

1,000 mg

1,000 mg

1,000 mg

1,000 mg

51–70 years

1,000 mg

1,200 mg

 

 

71+ years

1,200 mg

1,200 mg

 

 

 

Check here for complete details on adequate intake on NIH website.

 

In taking calcium supplements, let’s say you’re 20 years old, and you are taking calcium carbonate supplement which has 40% elemental calcium. If you take 1000mg of calcium carbonate, it means you’re getting only 400mg of calcium (because it has 40% elemental calcium) from the dosage, which means you would have to take about 2000mg of calcium carbonate to get the rough estimate of the RDA.

NB: The above paragraph is just a theoretical explanation of the difference between various types of calcium supplements and it’s proposed dosage. PLEASE CONSULT A PROFESSIONAL BEFORE USAGE.

Calcium supplements side effects

Right from the beginning of this article, I have been reiterating that, it’s best if you can source the calcium needed by your body from the food you take rather than taking supplements. But if for one reason or the other, there is a need to supplement your diet intake, then it’s important that you do so within the normal limit and not consume too much of calcium supplements.

Hypercalcemia is the term giving to excessive presence of calcium in the blood stream. This condition has been associated with various cardiovascular diseases, as it has been show to distort the homeostatic control of blood calcium level.

In extremely rare condition, hypercalcemia might also result into calcification of soft tissue. Calcification is the conversion of soft tissue to hard tissue through the addition of calcium.

High intake of calcium both in natural food and in supplements can cause constipation, and disrupt the absorption of other important minerals in the body. Some studies have also linked high intake of calcium supplements with kidney stone disease.

Best Calcium Supplement

The best calcium supplement is the variety with high elemental calcium and high bioavailability.

About Author:

Studying Biomedical Sciences made me realize that the body is such a delicate system, and lots of things could go wrong when the body is not properly taken care of. This arouse my interest in dietary supplements, because deficiency of a single element could render the entire system helpless. Follow me as I explore.

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