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Confused about Calcium?

By Tracy Shields August 20, 2013 Leave a comment Go to comments

As vitamin and mineral supplement gurus, we feel compelled to tell you that if there’s one thing with which you should supplement your diet, it’s calcium. What we don’t suggest, however, is that you run out and buy just any bottle or product that says “calcium” on the label. Here’s a quick primer on calcium carbonate and calcium citrate, and which may work best for you. 

Calcium Carbonate

• Contains more elemental calcium than other calcium compounds

• Contains the most calcium (by weight), which means less capsules to take

• Take with food for best absorption



Calcium Citrate

• Extremely bioavailable: easily absorbed by individuals with less stomach acid

• Absorbed well by the elderly and those taking medicine for GERD (reflux disease)

• Convenient calcium supplement—may be taken anytime


Many factors influence how calcium is absorbed or utilized. Moreover, other vitamins and minerals are important to be taken in conjunction with calcium for maximum benefit. So when you buy calcium, look for the following in your supplement:  


Vitamin D

• The Office of Dietary Supplements said, “Supplementation with calcium plus vitamin D has been shown to be effective in reducing fractures and falls….”

• Vitamin D promotes calcium absorption.

• Vitamin D3 is the preferred form.


Vitamin K

• Vitamin K2 (MK7) is a form of Vitamin K used for bone support.

• Low intakes of Vitamin K2 can cause calcification (hardening) of arteries.

• Vitamin K2 helps form bone. From The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Vitamins and Minerals: “You need Vitamin K to help your bones grab onto calcium, put it in the right place and hold onto it after it’s there.”



• Make sure you get 200 mg of magnesium for every 400 mg of calcium. Low magnesium means loss of calcium.

• Magnesium helps build bones; deficiencies are linked with osteoporosis.

• Low intakes of magnesium are associated with calcium loss from bone.


Multivitamin Use

• Depending on your age and sex, the recommended daily amount of calcium is between 1,000-1,300 mg. However, multivitamins may contain only 200-250 mg of calcium. Take calcium supplements with a multivitamin to get enough calcium, vitamins and minerals.


Important Things to Know about Calcium Supplements

• Check with your doctor or pharmacist if you are taking any medications.

• Some research suggests that the traditional daily calcium recommendation of 1,200 mg may be higher than necessary for some. What may be more important is taking a combination of nutrients for optimal calcium absorption and metabolism, including magnesium, vitamin D3 and vitamin K2. 

• For best absorption, do not take more 500 mg of calcium at one time.  

• It is better to take calcium supplements twice instead of once a day.




Magnesium: A Key to Calcium Absorption

Osteoporosis: Calcium and Magnesium

Dietary influences on bone mass and bone metabolism: further evidence of a positive link between fruit and vegetable consumption and bone health?

What type of calcium supplement is best?

Dietary Supplement Fact Sheet: Calcium

Dietary Intake of Menaquinone Is Associated with a Reduced Risk of Coronary Heart Disease: The Rotterdam Study

The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Vitamins and Minerals

Vitamin K2: Monograph

Vitamin K2: The Missing Nutrient

Vitamin K: The overlooked bone builder and heart protector

Boning Up on Calcium: Supplements for Bone Health

Posted in: The Res-Q Blog
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