How to Take Calcium

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Calcium is a mineral that is essential to good bone health and can help prevent osteoporosis.
Calcium is a mineral that is essential to good bone health and can help prevent osteoporosis.

How to Take Calcium. Bone health is finally becoming a health issue of note for all people: men, women and children. Calcium is a mineral that is essential to normal body functions, especially those that concern bone formation and maintenance. While most people are aware of this they often overlook the fact that in order for calcium to be absorbed from your stomach and utilized by your body, it needs to be taken with Vitamin D. Calcium needs Vitamin D in order to work! With this in mind, lets look at ways to effectively supplement your diet with calcium.

Things You'll Need

  • A list of calcium-enriched foods
  • A discussion with your healthcare provider on the amount and frequency of calcium/Vitamin D you need to take daily
  • A calcium and Vitamin D serum (blood) level if you and your healthcare provider deem it necessary. (You may also need a bone or DEXA scan too.)

Assess your need for calcium. While virtually everyone needs calcium, there are certain individuals who may need to take the mineral and vitamin to prevent, correct or modify bone disease. Calcium and Vitamin D are essential nutrients for a body to grow strong.

As you assess your need for calcium and Vitamin D there are several categories and illnesses that may warrant caution before taking these nutrients. These conditions include, but are not limited to: Kidney disease Past or present kidney stones Heart disease Circulation problems Parathyroid gland disease Conditions including Lyme disease and acne that are being treated with an antibiotic such as tetracycline

Consult with your health care provider and pharmacist and do some homework before selecting brands of calcium and Vitamin D. Also, once you find an effective brand I usually encourage people to stick with that brand. Consistency does matter! One of the major issues with vitamins, minerals and supplements is that they are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration. While there are numerous counter opinions to this position they simply do not address the fact that numerous studies have found a variance from 0 percent to 100 percent in certain supplements. In fact, one study done on fish oil supplements found that the majority of the ones studied did not actually contain fish oil at all!

Get your calcium by eating calcium and Vitamin D-enriched foods; that's the best way.
* An interesting side note here: As we have become more rightly cautious of sun exposure we have also decreased our amount of Vitamin D (the "sunshine" vitamin). So stay out of the sun, but make sure you take enough Vitamin D to help your body absorb bone-strengthening calcium.

Add these dairy and non dairy calcium-rich foods to add to your diet:

Dairy Sources: • Yogurt, plain and fruit • Milk, low fat, non fat or whole • Cheese, including American, ricotta, cheddar and mozzarella • Milkshakes • Eggnog

Non-Dairy Sources: • Salmon • Tofu • Rhubarb • Sardines • Collard greens • Spinach • Turnip greens • Okra • White beans • Baked beans • Broccoli • Peas • Brussel sprouts • Sesame seeds • Bok choy • Almonds

Not all vitamins and supplements are created equal. Talk to an expert to make sure you are getting what your body needs.
Not all vitamins and supplements are created equal. Talk to an expert to make sure you are getting what your body needs.

Tips & Warnings

  • Strong bones can help prevent fractures--get enough calcium and Vitamin D in your diet!
  • Always check with your healthcare provider before supplementing your diet with vitamins, minerals and other agents to see if they are right for you.
  • Never presume that over-the-counter supplements are "always safe and cannot harm!" Why would anyone take a supplement they didn't believe had some effect (good or bad) on their bodies? Essentially, anything you swallow can impact your health.

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