Bones and Beyond: Choosing the Right Calcium Supplement

Part 4 of the Essential Supplements series

Part 1 is about how to choose a multivitamin and mineral complex; Part 2 discusses the important role of anti-oxidants. Part 3 explained the essential role of magnesium. In this blog we’ll discuss calcium and two important, and possibly surprising, support factors for its assimilation.

Calcium as a supplement is essential for some people but completely optional for many others. Most men and younger people can get adequate calcium from the diet. Post-menopausal women and people with special risk factors, on the other hand, should pay attention to this information. 99% of the calcium in your body is supposed to be in your teeth and bones. Calcium also enables your blood to clot, your muscles to contract and your heart to beat.

People at risk of osteopenia and osteoporosis are usually advised by their doctor to take a calcium supplement- often in the range of 1200-1500 mg/day. What many don’t tell you is that in order to rebuild bones there are other nutrients required in order to lay down new bone: magnesium, vitamin D, boron, silica, vitamin K2, vitamin C, protein, phosphorus and strontium.

Ingesting a minimum of 25 grams of diverse types of fiber each day is also very important for bone health.

The researchers discovered that a fiber-rich diet can actually change the composition of your gut bacteria and help your body produce more of the short-chain fatty acids that protect our bones. They found that two of these fatty acids in particular – propionate and butyrate – support bone health.

Lead researcher Dr. Mario Zaiss said in an FAU press release, “We were able to show that a bacteria-friendly diet has an anti-inflammatory effect, as well as a positive effect on bone density.” When Dr. Zaiss says “bacteria-friendly,” he means fiber-rich.

Ideally we should be eating calcium-rich foods daily and in particular a generous portion of green leafy veggies. Not everyone can tolerate dairy products, but for those who can—enjoy! If you are getting a lot of calcium from your groceries you may not want to take high doses of calcium from supplements on top of it. Aim for 1000-1200 mg of total calcium each day, from food and supplements, making sure you are also supplementing sufficient magnesium to prevent deficiencies of that essential mineral. Read more Here

People deficient in magnesium who consume excess calcium may experience an increase in blood pressure if high blood pressure is already a problem. Kidney stones are another potential risk, depending on the pH of the person’s urine (acidic) and other risk factors, such as eating a lot of animal foods, drinking cola regularly, not drinking enough pure water and eating high oxalate foods. (There are other risk factors, so if this is an issue for you please do your research.)

The type of calcium you take as a supplement matters and whether or not it’s the best type for you can be determined via simple pH testing. Here is a useful guide

If you are currently taking a calcium supplement or plan to start please check the label. Make sure your choice of calcium is going to be usable by the body since some commonly sold types are not. Calcium carbonate is cheap, very poorly absorbed and a waste of money. Also avoid oyster shell calcium, bone meal and dolomite for similar reasons, plus the risk of their containing lead.

Unfortunately, many well-known brands include Di-calcium phosphate (DCP) or Tri-calcium phosphate (TCP) in their pills, making them difficult or impossible to break down inside the body. (After reviewing thousands of Hair Mineral Analysis reports Dr. Martin is convinced that tablets and capsules using added DCP/TCP may be partially responsible for excess calcium in the tissues and joints, which causes stiffness, joint issues, circulation problems and premature aging. Always check the “Other Ingredients” section of your product labels to make sure the products you purchase don’t contain this unnecessary ingredient. And better yet, always shop from a quality company you trust.)

In a later article we will discuss in much more detail how to naturally prevent and reverse bone loss.

Support Factors, as Promised

  • Digestive support in the form of sufficient stomach acid is a very common issue for us as we age. A lack of stomach acid can wreak havoc on our health, leading to nutritional deficiencies of protein, major minerals (such as calcium and magnesium) and vitamins, as well as problems due to imbalances in the entire digestive tract. Insufficient stomach acid leads to a host of often surprising symptoms. If your digestion is strong—congratulations! Most people over the age of 50 have lost much of their digestive power. Supplementation with Betaine HCL with pepsin can renew your digestive power to its youthful levels. We covered this in recent articles and encourage you to read them at your earliest convenience. (Links to the Healthy Habits® digestion articles are included below.)
  • Fiber: In previous 2018 articles we delved deeply into the importance of dietary fiber and probiotics, both of which are more crucial to excellent health that previously thought. No matter your age if these are insufficiently represented there are consequences. If you regularly eat a plant-based diet and get plentiful dietary fiber—congratulations! If learning why this is so vital is of interest to you we suggest you check out our fascinating articles. As you see in the calcium section above fiber supports strong bones on top of all its other known benefits. Daily supplementation with a high quality fiber blend is important, versus taking only psyllium or apple pectin, for example. Our gut microbes benefit most from diversity, so look for a product from a company you trust that delivers that level of quality. (Links to the Healthy Habits® fiber articles are included below.)

If you have reason to believe that your calcium isn’t where it’s supposed to be you may benefit significantly from the information a Hair Mineral Analysis can provide. Ordering a consultation with Dr. Martin can provide you with what you need to make the best decisions regarding calcium supplementation.

Digestion links:

Fiber links:

Leaky Gut links:

Microbiome links:

Other references: