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How to Choose a Calcium Supplement

Calcium is an essential mineral in the makeup of our bones - 99% of the calcium in our bodies is stored in our bones and teeth. Obviously, one of the highest sources of calcium in our diet comes from dairy products (milk, cheese, eggs, yogurt). If the body doesn't get an adequate supply of calcium from our diet, it will pull the necessary calcium from the bones. Although it could seem that "borrowed" calcium from the bones could be replaced easily by the diet, it doesn't usually work that quickly, so getting the essential calcium needed daily is crucial. To compound matters are those who are at risk for not getting enough calcium because of certain lifestyle or dietary issues - i.e. lactose intolerant, vegan dieters, menopausal women, etc. Daily calcium supplements are a great alternative/addition to meet the requirements needed for the growth and strengthening of our bones.

Listed below is a dietary reference guide published by National Academy of Sciences Institute of Medicine.
(One serving of dairy products provides 300mg of calcium.)
0 - 6 months
210 milligrams/day
6 - 12 months
270 milligrams/day
1 - 3 years
500 milligrams/day
4 - 8 years
800 milligrams/day
9 - 18 years
1,300 milligrams/day
Adults 19 - 50 years
1,000 milligrams/day
Adults 51+ years
1,200 milligrams/day

In looking for a calcium supplement, it is important to look for the elemental calcium content on the label. This is the actual amount of calcium within the supplement. Also, there are other factors that determine how much calcium is absorbed - the conditions of the small intestine, the amount of Vitamin D in the body, along with the actual type of calcium supplement. Calcium Carbonate is the common type found in Tums, etc. (Coral Calcium is a popular supplement, but it essentially is a type of calcium carbonate.) Because it requires more stomach acid to absorb, it is usually suggested to take it after meals. Calcium Citrate does not require the extra stomach acid, so it can be taken at any time.

Supplements can come in pills, chewable tablets, even powders. Each has a different dissolution and absorption rate, so an individual can try different forms to find the one which works best for himself. Also, the body doesn't distinguish between calcium through food, or supplement, or even the "fortified" foods (i.e. OJ with extra calcium), so a combination of what works the best for each individual can be done. There is suggestion that taking a calcium supplement at bedtime could possibly stop bone loss that occurs overnight. The one caution in calcium intake would be not to consume more than 2500 mg of elemental calcium per day.

Vitabase offers the following calcium products:

High Potency Calcium-Magnesium - Provides three types of calcium including calcium carbonate, calcium citrate, and chelated calcium for maximum absorption. Great for people with excess stomach acid.

Calcium Magnesium Citrates - This is the most easily absorbed form of calcium, it is great for people who do not have problems with stomach acid.

Coral Calcium - a high quality calcium carbonate product

(Much information received from University of Washington, Department of Medicine.)