Calcium Facts for Those Who Love Their Bones

August 31, 2012

senior health“I got a phone call from Rachael the other day. She’s finally out of her cast. I can’t believe she had to be tied up for eight weeks, out of work, and not able to put any weight on her foot at all. Earlier this spring she was helping her husband mow the grass and felt her foot pop; it was so painful that she fell. Her ankle broke in three places! Her doctor said that osteoporosis was a contributing factor. I had no idea your bones could just shatter like that. I’m definitely taking my calcium regimen more seriously now.”

If spontaneous bone shattering isn’t your idea of a good time, get serious about your calcium intake right now. Here’s a bit of useful information on bone health from the Mayo Clinic and WebMD. Of course, at your next health appointment, consult the professionals to make sure your calcium regimen is properly tailored to your needs.

When should I be taking my calcium?

As a general rule, calcium can be taken at any time. Some exceptions are this:

  • If you take 1,000 mg, it’s best to split the dosage up into two different times of day, since the body absorbs calcium most efficiently in 500 or 600 mg doses.
  • Keep in mind that calcium can interact with several different types of medications, including antibiotics, high blood pressure medications, and bisphosphonates. Ask your pharmacist or physician about timing doses to avoid problems.
  • If your supplement is made of calcium carbonate, it’s best to take it with food, since the acid your stomach makes while eating will help the breakdown and absorption of calcium carbonate.

How much calcium should I take?

The National Institute of Health recommends a daily intake of 1,000 mg of calcium for adults 18-50, and 1200 mg for adults over 70.  This includes the intake you obtain from food. Of course, intake doesn’t tell the full story. There are factors that affect the way your body absorbs calcium, including:

  • smoking
  • certain medications
  • certain health conditions

Which leads us back to the idea that you should talk with your physician about the dosage of calcium you personally need.

I take a calcium supplement every day. Is that enough?

The focus these days with health professionals is vitamin D. This essential nutrient helps your body absorb calcium from your intestines and kidneys. In your pharmacy, you’ll see vitamin D2 and perhaps vitamin D3 as well.  Which should you take?  Both are effective, but research shows D3 is much more potent. If you have a choice, go for D3. Otherwise, any vitamin D supplement will help your body absorb calcium.

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Writer, Gretchen Halverson

Gretchen Halverson was raised on a farm along the banks of the Ohio River. She currently resides in Maine with her 3 beautiful children. She works as a wedding photographer and a writer about senior care issues.

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