Calcium Up Close   

Calcium Up Close

We are quite used to hearing about how important calcium is for our well-being. When you were a child, you were often told, "Drink your milk or you won't grow!". Now you are told, "Do you want brittle bones when you're old?"

It seems like these warnings will never cease – and with good reason too. Calcium is extremely important for good bone and teeth health. And seeing as how common osteoporosis has become, we had better start taking heed.

The daily diet of many people does not meet the recommended daily intake of calcium, which is why they rely on supplements.

Calcium in supplements is not pure calcium, but a compound of calcium and another element. There are a number of different compounds - calcium carbonate, calcium citrate, calcium phosphate and calcium lactate, of which the first two are the most common. One of the key factors that differentiates the different compounds is the amount of elemental calcium contained.

Calcium carbonate (CaCO3) is one of the main types of calcium found in supplements and is available in different forms - liquid, tablets and capsules. It is one of the less expensive forms, but has a relatively high amount of elemental calcium.

Calcium carbonate has an alkaline base and requires more stomach acid for maximum absorption. Therefore, it is best to take this supplement after meals.

Primarily prescribed as a dietary calcium supplement, calcium carbonate is also a frequent ingredient in antacids for the treatment for stomach ache, acid reflux and indigestion.

Not limited to health and medicinal products, this compound is also found in household items such as toothpaste and baking powder.
Calcium carbonate is not recommended for those with low levels of stomach acid (absorption is not as good) as it may cause constipation and bloating.

Certain diuretics that contain thiazide may also react adversely with calcium carbonate.

Calcium carbonate can cause a number of side effect s, including nausea, vomiting, constipation, stomach ache and metallic taste.

Calcium citrate (Ca3(C6H5O7)2) is a more expensive calcium compound, but it is easily digested and absorbed. However, it contains less elemental calcium than calcium carbonate. It is also available in different forms, such as pills and effervescent tablets.
Individuals on antacids with an aluminium content should consult their doctors before taking calcium citrate supplements. This is because calcium citrate may increase the amount of aluminium absorption into the bloodstream, which is particularly dangerous for those with kidney disease. Those who have had kidney stones should also be careful and seek medical advice before taking this form or calcium.

Calcium phosphate actually belongs to a family of different minerals which combine calcium ions (Ca2+) and either orthophosphates (PO43-) or pyrophosphates (P2O34-).

Calcium phosphate is used to treat and prevent calcium deficiencies. Besides supplements, calcium phosphate is also found in cosmetics and industrial chemicals.

Calcium gluconate (C12H22CaO14) has multiple uses. As with other forms, it treats calcium deficiencies resulting from conditions like hypoparathyroidism. It is also administered to those who suffer from rickets and osteomalacia. It is not a form that is normally found in supplements as it is administered intravenously.
Calcium lactate (C6H10CaO6) is used in both antacids and calcium supplements. Unlike other forms of calcium, it does not need to be taken with food as it does not require an acidic condition for absorption. It is frequently added to sugar-tree foods as a preventive measure against tooth decay.

Without question, calcium should be an essential part of your daily dietary intake, not only for building healthy bones and teeth, but also for other body functions like blood clotting and regulation of heartbeat.
Before taking calcium supplements, it is best to consult your physician, who can help decide which type is right for you and to avoid any unwanted interactions or side effects

Happy reading,

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