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Calcium is a basic that the body needs to function and found in a variety of foods. However, some people require extra calcium for various reasons, namely:
- If your diet is lacking in this mineral
- If you are suffering from osteoporosis
- If you’re an athlete
- Have certain bowel or digestive diseases that decrease your ability to absorb calcium, such as inflammatory bowel disease or celiac disease
- If you consume lots of protein or sodium
Calcium supplements are a good back up in situations where you need more calcium than what your diet allows.
But what is the best form of calcium supplement for absorption?
The two most common form of calcium are calcium carbonate and calcium citrate. While calcium carbonate is best absorbed when taken with meals, calcium citrate is can be taken any time of day with or without food and so provides greater flexibility.
Calcium citrate is absorbed well on an empty or full stomach so is kinder to people who have delicate digestive systems.
It is also recommended as a better option for older people who produce less stomach acid or for those who suffer heartburn, since calcium carbonate requires more work from the body to be absorbed.
Some Helping Hands
Calcium supplements can be taken on their own, but it is recommended that they are taken alongside some other nutrients to aid the absorption process. Magnesium and vitamin D are the two extra supplements that guarantee optimum absorption for calcium.
Adequate levels of magnesium are needed, along with vitamin D, for calcium to be absorbed and used properly. Magnesium is found in a lot of whole foods, including whole grains, nuts and leafy green vegetables.
Research in to cures for rickets eventually led scientists to realise the value of vitamin D’s partnership with calcium. Vitamin D deficiency is now recognised to reduce bone mineral density, which can lead to fractures, particularly in older patients. A lack of vitamin D is also responsible for increasing the parathyroid hormone levels in the body – which has also been proven to increase bone loss. So is the perfect partnership for calcium.
When it comes to picking the right supplement for you, talk to your GP and see if you have any pre-existing conditions which may be impaired by adding extra calcium. Take a calcium supplement that is combined with an extra nutrient to aid absorption, like vitamin D or magnesium to ensure your body gets exactly the right hit it needs.