We’ve heard it from the days of childhood – calcium is good for the teeth and bones. While it is true that calcium is absolutely necessary to the health and strength of bones and teeth, this essential mineral also serves several other important purposes in the body. Yet, many people routinely fail to consume enough calcium in their daily diets.
In addition to the benefits to teeth and bones, calcium plays a role in helping the blood to clot when it needs to, helping the nerves and muscles to perform their tasks, and the maintenance of cell membranes. It is also important to the prevention of debilitating bone diseases, such as osteoporosis.
Despite the importance of consuming adequate amounts of calcium daily, some studies have found that as much as 75% of people in the United States do not have a sufficient daily intake of calcium. Those following strict vegetarian diets, especially vegan, must be particularly careful concerning calcium intake levels.
Fortunately, there are several varieties of calcium supplements on the market. Adults need between 1000 mgs and 1300 mgs of calcium per day, and should not supplement beyond 2500 mgs, as that can cause other health problems.
Your health care professional can help you to choose the amount that you need daily, as preexisting conditions, such as bone loss or damage due to previous deficiencies, can make a difference in how much you should be taking daily.
Some types of calcium supplements are absorbed more easily by the body than others. However, some may be preferable for other reasons. The most common calcium supplements include calcium citrate, calcium carbonate, oyster shell or bone meal based calcium supplements, coral calcium, and calcium gluconate and calcium lactate based supplements.
In choosing your supplement, you should be aware of how to read the label to ensure that you are getting the amount of calcium that you think you are. Elemental calcium is the term used for the calcium that your body will be able to absorb.
Some supplements have this and other types of calcium, but it is only the elemental calcium that can count towards your daily intake. Calcium is absorbed best in acidic circumstances, which is why many supplements are recommended for use after meals, when the stomach acids are at higher levels.
Current research has found that calcium citrate is the most efficient of the supplements, meaning that the body absorbs it easily. However, although it is absorbed easier and can be taken at any time of day, whether or not there is food in the stomach, this type often contains less of the elemental calcium, and thus more pills daily will be needed.
Calcium carbonate is the most common over the counter calcium supplement and should be taken after meals, because of the increased stomach acid. These, however, should be watched for sodium content.
Calcium is essential for good health and supplements are an excellent way to ensure that you are not among the many people who regularly do not consume the amount of calcium needed daily.
There are a variety of factors to be taken into account when choosing a calcium supplement. A little research and consultation with a nutritional specialist can help you to choose the best calcium supplement for your individual needs.