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Calcium & Vitamin D

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Calcium & Vitamin D


    When It comes to your health, the combination of calcium and vitamin D could be considered the dynamic duo.  Almost every cell in the body requires calcium to function properly, and the body needs vitamin D in order to absorb calcium.

   In addition to its role in keeping our bones and teeth strong and healthy, calcium plays an important part in the blood clotting, regarding heartbeat, conducting nerve impulses, and stimulating hormone secretion.  When our body doesn't  get enough calcium to perform these vital functions, it takes it from our bones.  Over time, if the calcium in the bones isn't replaced, they become fragile and break easily.

   Eating a diet that is rich in calcium and getting enough vitamin D throughout our lives will help keep our bones healthy and strong as we grow older.  This is especially important during childhood and adolescence when our bodies make bone matter fastest.  Throughout our lives our bodies go through a process of breaking down old bone material and replacing it with new bone.  In our early years, we make more bone than we lose until we reach our lifetime maximum bone mass.  For a woman that can happen as early as teen years.  For men, it's a little later.  At that point, the process reaches a balance and the amount  of bone made is about the same as the amount of bone lost.  As we age, we begin to lose bone faster than we make it.

    Calcium is available in many foods, and in an ideal world eating a healthy diet should provide all of the calcium our bodies need.  Unfortunately, in the real world, mealtime frequently means grabbing a quick bite on the go, and the foods people eat don't provide all the nutrients their bodies need to maintain good health.  That's where supplements can provide a little insurance.  But it is important to realize that not all supplements provide equal benefits.

Different Types of Calcium

    In nature, calcium exist only in combination with other substances.  Common calcium combinations include calcium carbonate, calcium citrate, calcium gluconate, calcium lactate, calcium phospjate, coral calcium, and dolomite.  Calcium carbonate and calcium citrate are the two most commonly ussed in supplements.

    The amount of calcium your body can absorb differs among the various compounds.  This absorbable amount is called elemental calcium.  The amount of elemental calcium is the figure you should use to calculate your calcium intake.  For example, 1500 mg of calcium carboante contains 600 mg of elemental calcium, so taking two doses a day will provide you with 1200 mg of calcium.

Calcium Facts

  • Calcium carboante conttains the highest amount of elemental calcium per mg of calcium compound, but it has to be taken with food or immediately after eating to be absorbed completely.

  • Calcium is absorbed best when taken in small amounts throughout the day.  Try not to take more than 500 mg of elemental calcium at any one time.  If you divide your calcium doses, take one in the morning and one later in the day.

  • Bloating or constipation while taking calcium supplements may be signs that you aren't drinking enough fluids.  Increasing your fluid intake and taking the supplement with food may relieve the problem.

  • Calcium supplements can affect the absorption of some medications, including some antibiotics and blood pressure medications.  If you are taking any medications, check with your doctor or pharmasist to see if a calcium supplement will affect the medicine.

  • Calcium supplements can worsen some health conditions, so speak with your doctor before taking a supplement if you have any conditions.

  • Avoid calcium supplements that contain unrefined oyster shell, bone meal, or dolomite, becausse these products may also contain toxic substances such as lead, mercury, or arsenic.

Vitamin D

    Vitamin D can increase calcium absorption by as much as 30% to 80%.  There are a few foods that provide vitamin D, but not too many.  The best sources are fatty fish as salmon, mackarel.., sardines, swordfish, and tuna.  Fortified margarine and milk, eggs, beef liver, and some cheeses also provide vitamin D.

    Regular exposure to the sun can stimulate our skin to produce vitamin D, but that also exposes us to the sun's harmful ultraviolet radiation.  Sunscreens, which block out the ultraviolet radiation, also block the formation of vitamin D.  Therefore, many people rely on a vitamin supplement to meet their daily requirement of this important vitamin.

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