Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Tips on Choosing the Right Calcium Supplement

You’ve probably heard how important calcium is for your bones. What you may not know is that calcium plays a role in producing a regular heart beat, conducting nerve impulses, stimulating hormone secretions, and clotting blood. We all know we need a lot of calcium to maintain good health, but chances are you’re not getting enough; particularly if you are a woman.

While the best option for getting calcium is through a healthy balanced diet including dairy products and green vegetables; you can also take a calcium supplement if you don’t think you’re getting enough. You may think calcium is calcium, but it’s very important to the supplement that best suits your needs.

The first choice you need to make when in comes to calcium supplements is what compound you want to take. Calcium is not found by itself in foods; it’s bonded to other molecules. Different compounds are just calcium being bonded with different molecules. If you don’t want to take a lot of pills, calcium carbonate and calcium phosphate have very high calcium concentrations; however, calcium phosphate may not be absorbed into your system as well. Calcium citrate is the easiest compound to absorb; however, the calcium is not as concentrated. If you don’t mind taking more pills, calcium citrate is recommended for people who don’t produce a lot of stomach acid. No matter what compound you choose, be sure to check the label to make sure you’ll be getting enough elemental calcium (calcium by itself) to suit your needs.

Another consideration when buying a calcium supplement is the brand. Not all brand names are created equal, so here are some tips to help you choose wisely.
  • Don’t get supplements containing natural ingredients that haven’t been purified. They may contain dangerous metals that could make you sick. The worst offenders that you should watch out for are oyster shells, dolomite, and bonemeal.
  • You probably don’t need a combination vitamin for calcium. If you don’t get outside much, you may consider a vitamin D combination supplement (we get it naturally from sunlight), but other minerals can be obtained from diet and a daily multivitamin.
  • If a supplement makes you gassy or bloated, switch to a different brand. If you have this problem with many brands, consider starting at a lower dosage and working your way up.
  • Choose supplements that have the USP seal on them. This will help ensure purity of the product.
  • If taking calcium pills, drop one into a warm glass of water and let it sit for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. If the pill has not completely dissolved within the 30 minute time period, it is probably not being completely absorbed by your body and you should find another brand.

Finding the right supplement for you may take a little work, but with a little patience and a little “try it a see” work; you’ll eventually find the perfect supplement to keep your body healthy and strong.

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