Confused about the Calcium

I'm new to all of this with a recent diagnosis of Osteopenia and Osteoporosis. I'm trying to gather as much information as possible to make an educated decision about what route to take in order to deal with this. I'm so confused about Calcium--what kind to take, how much to take, when to take it, whether or not it actually does any good. Everything I have read talks about the absorption. It seems like no matter how much you take hardly any of it gets absorbed. Can anyone offer some help?

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Its really very simple. Your body needs about 300-400 mg/day to be absorbed from ALL the food and/or supplements you swallow each day to maintain a balance between intake and what you excrete in urine, sweat, or use to make new bone. The catch is that a healthy adult intestinal tract and adequate level of vitamin D in the blood, will only absorb about ont third of what is swallowed. Only 20% in post-menopausal women, as estrogen assists the intestinal tract efficiency. So to get 300 mg in, you need to swallow about 1000mg, or 1500 if a post-menopausal woman.

The better calciums are absorbed a little more efficiently, but that only means you need to take less supplement. However, calcium in food is better absorbed than any supplement. So the more you can get from a healthy diet, the less, IF ANY, you need to spend on supplements.

Calcium is an element, and it is the same whether you get it from milk, carbonate, citrate, algea, ground up bones, whatever. The body doesn't care how much you spent to buy it. And taking extra only makes it go out your kidneys faster, and makes your urine more expensive.

ALso, don't get too hung up on "absorption" as they are only measuring how fast it appears in your urine after you swallow it, not how much is incorporated into bone.

Some people will not abosrb certain forms of calcium products, or none of them well at all if they have had bariatric surgery, or have celiac disease, etc, but if this doesn't describe you, then buy the cheapest supplement from a respected name, that doesn't cause constipation or excessive gas (signs that it isn't being absorbed) and use the savings to buy a spa treatment or join a health club or a nice vacation.

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I just wanted to add, that if you are purchasing a calcium supplement, take note of the amount of "elemental" calcium. That's the amount that you should be interested in. When I was first diagnosed with low bone density (osteopaenia) I was told to have a daily intake of 1,200 mg of "elemental calcium" every day (plus vitamin D of course).

I've taken both calcium carbonate and calcium citrate in the past. I took calcium carbonate with a meal, whereas calcium citrate may be taken without any food.

On the advice from one of my endocrinologists (I've seen 2), I've made the switch from primarily getting my calcium from supplements to getting it naturally. For me, making this adjustment was not difficult since I'm a "dairy junkie". In addition to eating cheeses and yogurt every day, I now also have a tall glass of 1% milk with every meal. The bonus for me is that I've actually gained a few pounds which is truly a miracle and a very, very welcome bonus. :)

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Okay, thanks so much dexaguru and little sparrow. It makes so much more sense to me now. I thought I was aiming for "absorbing" 1,200 mg per day and wondering how that was possible if only a small quantity of it actually gets taken in. I can probably cut back on the pills then. I think I'm getting enough via dietary and then supplementing it with one calcium pill per day and not four.

My next question would be about the vitamin D. I was vitamin D deficient. My reading in the spring was only 19. I have since brought that up to 32, which I'm told is just within normal limits. I'm wondering how much higher I should try to bring that up. I'm betting that to be just within the normal range probably isn't good enough for what I'm trying to do. Anyone have any thoughts on that?

Thanks so much.....

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Calcium is only one of the seven minerals needed for strong bones. The others are magnesium, manganese, boron, zinc, selenium, and iodine. Five vitamins are also needed: A, B, C, D, and K2.

You can learn about all of them (except Vitamin A) in Lara Pizzorno's excellent and inexpensive book, "Your Bones."

All of the minerals are provided in NOW Full Spectrum Minerals CAPS (not tablets).

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The calcium issue is complex, I read that the body suppresses vitamin D if there is too much calcium in the system (hyper calcaemia) to stop over absorbtion). Some people's osteoporosis is caused by hyper calcaemia . I would be very careful with calcium supplements, try to get enough through diet.

Annoying Vit D supplements often have calcium included, my GP prescribed one without calcium for me (in the UK).

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Bone mineral, by weight, is 80% calcium, 19% phosphorus, and about 1% is magnesium, boron, zinc, seleniun, iodine etc. The trace elements are important, but they are only needed in trace quantities and a normal diet is usually more than adequate for them, unless, again, you have some absortion disorder.

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I have the Your Bones book on order. Hopefully, it will be here in a day or two. Thanks so much everyone for posting.

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My understanding is that bone is about 30% collagen. It's the collagen that provides much of bone's tensile strength and prevents fractures, though it does not show up on DEXA scans. Vitamin K2 as MK4 puts calcium into bones instead of joints and arteries, and also reduces fracture risk by increasing collagen. You can read more here:

http://www.lmreview.com/articles/view/Vitamin-K2-Essential-for-Prevention-o f-Age-Associated-Chronic-Disease/

http://www.dentalaegis.com/cced/2011/10/bridging-the-gap-between-osteoporos is-and-osteonecrosis-of-the-jaw-preventing-and-treating-bronj-with-mk4

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My endo told me that I should aim to have my Vit D levels over 70.

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Is that 70 ng/mL? If so, you don't want to go over 80. If it's nmol, that's very low, only 28.

Thanks to Faylou, here's how to convert:

ng/ml convert to nmol/l multiply by 2.5

nmol/l to ng/ml divide by 2.5

ie: 60 ngml would be 2.496 x 60 = 150 nmol/l

so your 83.9 nmol/l = 33.5 ng/ml (83.9/2.5)

hope that helps

Here's Dr. Gominak's video that explains the functrion of Vitamin D brilliantly: http://www.youtube.com/watch?NR=1&v=h7cbBB1c0IM&feature=endscreen

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We have to eat to live anyway, so let's get our vitamin A B C D & K from food. It's the natural way....

-drink milk [ vit A + D, and some B vitamins too---also calcium & protein]
-add some of those dark green veggies & herbs for vit K and orange, kiwi, strawberries, sweet peppers etc for vit C and get a bonus of some antioxidents and probably some of those trace minerals,too
-for other food sources of vit D add some fatty fish, egg yolks, and fortified foods

Some foods may have more of certain nutrients than others, but most offer more than a solo nutrient. I enjoy the taste and flavor of food over expensive and tasteless but costly supplements. Cooking, trying new recipes, growing veggies & herbs is also a great activity that keeps us using those muscles and bones....

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Reddwarf, let me just clarify if I understand correctly. Vitamin D suppression can occur, not when there is too much
calcium in the body, but when there is too much calcium in the blood. This condition is very undesirable for most of
the organs and should be corrected. However, it does not happen as a result of excess dietary calcium. It happens
most often because of a malfunction of one of two hormones that control the distribution of calcium within the body,
parathyroid hormone or the vitamin D hormone. In over 99% of cases of hyper calcemia, one or more of the parathyroid
glands is producing too much PTH hormone, that causes calcium to be leached out of the bones into the blood. On the
other hand, most excess dietary calcium will eventually end up in the urine to be excreted from the body.

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It's never been clear to me if eating dairy gets you strong bones. It probably depends on YOU, how your body handles it. So many on this blog drank tons of milk and still got OP.

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CInderfella,
It might be worth analyzing your diet for several days to see what your actual calcium intake is. Be aware that in Europe the recommended amounts are lower than in the US... I aim for 800 mg per day of calcium, from food. This includes one or two servings of cheese, and 3 glasses of mineral water ( Gerolsteiner has 80 mg of calcium per cup... but, alas, it is pricey).
For a few years now I have been making "bone broth" .. saving chicken carcasses or bones in the freezer and then soaking them in water with added vinegar and simmering with herbs etc. all day. I try to drink some of this several times per week. I think there are lots of minerals in this.
In past analysis of my diet, my intake of magnesium, boron and silica came up low. I add those in as supplements. ( I cannot digest multi vitamins) I also try to eat some sea vegetables (seaweed) a few times a week, for the iodine. I eat natto 4 or 5 times per week, for the Vit K2.. , and leafy greens from my garden on a daily basis.

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seacoral, would you be so kind as to give us the recipe for your bone broth?
Being a newbie to the NOF and trying to understand the chemistry behind all the vitamins and minerals we need, I'm overwhelmed. I read the two articles lilypads recommended. Question should I take MK4 and MK7? The BRONJ treatment with MK4 is absolutely compelling. I will begin drinking more milk, but I am limited in amount of caloric intake. I have many spinal issues, crippling RA which make great activity impossible. I ride a stationary bike and do 1 1/2 hrs of physical therapy exercises each day.
How much Vitamin A is necessary?
Should I be taking a UCII supplement? If so which is recommended, please?

I am so appreciative of your wise guidance.

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I also make bone broths, with free-range chicken bones, and also (separately) free-range beef bones. I put the bones in a 2 gallon stock pot, add about a half cup of apple cider vinegar to leach out the minerals, and cook them all day. I use the stock for soups and stews. I drink the chicken broth if I get a cold.

The broths contain gelatin as well as minerals. Gelatin may be helpful for arthritis (I was told that drinking a packet of Knox gelatin dissolved in water daily was an effective treatment. However, I never tried it and I no longer have arthritis.)

I think it's worth trying the UC II, and maybe the Knox gelatin too. What do you have to lose?

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I am fortunate to have a local organic farmer that I buy all chicken and meat from, so have these wonderful bones to make soup with. I have the butcher give me the bones from the meat..I started out following recipes from Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon ( recipe on p.122) ,but vary it so it's a little different each time. I should have clarified that I cook bones separately ( beef from lamb from chicken).. Here's for beef... Put bones in large pot, ( mine holds 16 quarts) cover with water and add about 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar.Soak for about an hour....meanwhile put bones with meat on them in the oven @ 350 to roast till they turn brown. Add this ALL, including fat and brown bits..back into the pot. I add some vegetables, but since I eat low carb I don't put in a lot of carrot or onion... use celery or a bit of dried seaweed, some shallots along with whatever herbs I have available from garden or dried ( sage, thyme, rosemary, oregano, etc). Dump it all in. Bring to a boil and skim scum off top . Simmer..at least 8 hours sometimes 24 hours. Let cool, then strain out everything . Refrigerate what's left then skim off the fat that congeals. ( for chicken I leave some of the fat in). Taste it.. might need to boil down a little more. I put this in freezer jars .
For chicken broth I take my saved up carcasses from the freezer and cover with water and 1/2 c cider vinegar and let soak an hour. Add vegetables and herbs.. Boil, remove scum and simmer. The rest is the same as for beef..
What you want to see is gelatinous soup when it's been refrigerated..

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Hey seacoral, I was just thinking about what you said on the broth/soup. Is this the same soup our mothers made with turkey/chicken carcasses, ham bones, and all the rest? It never occurred to me to call it a bone soup, but both my grandmother and mom made soup and it had to have bones in it (cooked all day) to give it flavor and nutrients, but that was just the base. They also added vegetables for veggie soup, pea soup with a ham bone, and chicken soup with the chicken carcass in it till it's done. Is this the same thing?

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Windblown, I make my chicken soup with raw skin and bones. Every time I buy a chicken, I save the back, the neck, the wing tips, and the giblets. I bone out the breasts and freeze those separately and add the breast bones to the soup package. Then when I have enough for a pot of soup, I load up the pot with the bones, fill it with water, and add about half a cup of apple cider vinegar and cook it all day. When it's done I freeze it in pinta nd quart jars (be sure to leave 1 inch headroom, or the jars will break).

That makes the base for great soups with vegetables and chicken that hasn't been cooked til it falls apart. Or I just heat it up and drink plain when I have a cold.

I know people also make soups with cooked chicken and turkey carcases, but I seldom have those, so I've not done it. I don't know what effect roasting has on the calcium and other nutrients in bones--does anybody know? I think one test of a good broth is whether it jells. Put it in a jar in the fridge overnight and ideally, it should have the consistency of jello in the morning. Sally Fallon explains the benefits of gelatin in her great book "Nourishing Traditions." It's especially good for digestion, which is no doubt why my grandmother always started a meal with a cup of homemade beef broth (topped with unsweetened real whipped cream).

I also make bone broth with free-range beef bones, which I buy, and I use that as a base for beef stews of various kinds.

After a day of cooking with vinegar, the beef bones are porous, just like bones with osteoporosis. The chicken bones are soft, won't splinter, and I give them to my neighbor for her dog, who loves this "Bonehead stew."

I also save the fat (schmaltz) and freeze it. It's great for frying chicken, livers, sausages, whatever. Because it's saturated, it does not break down into trans fats the way many vegetable oils do.

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