Calcium is one of the most important minerals the human body needs. Calcium is absolutely essential for strong bones and teeth, and helps the heart, lungs and muscles to work effectively. In fact, if you do not take in enough calcium, your body will even steal it from your bones. Starve your body of calcium long enough and you’ll have dry, brittle bones and teeth, and you’ll be more likely to develop osteoporosis, a serious condition that increases your risk of serious bone fractures.
Determine What Calcium Supplement to Take
Medical professionals know it’s hard for people to consistently get enough calcium from their diets. That’s why many supplements are now available that give people the necessary daily value of calcium in pill form. There are many different forms on the market now, so how do you know which to take?
Calcium can only exist in combination with other substances. These mixtures, called compounds, are available in different pill forms like calcium carbonate, calcium phosphate and calcium citrate. All different forms of calcium will work essentially the same in the body.
However, calcium absorption will depend on the amount of vitamin D in the body. The importance of vitamin D means your supplement should be fortified with vitamin D, no matter which type you choose. In addition, calcium in liquid form absorbs easier than calcium in solid pill form. Many vitamin brands now offer their supplements in liquid pill form for maximum effectiveness.
The Right Time to Take a Calcium Supplement
Calcium supplements can be taken any time of day. However, calcium is best absorbed into the body when it’s taken in doses of 500 mg or less. You can take more doses over the courses of the day—for instance, once in the morning and once at night.
However, the different compounds of calcium supplements can affect the body in different ways. Calcium citrate is best absorbed in an acidic environment, meaning that it will not upset an empty stomach and you can take it any time of day. However, people with acid reflux might not be able to tolerate calcium citrate.
Calcium carbonate and calcium phosphate require an ample amount of stomach acid to absorb, so these should only be taken after a meal. Taking these supplements without food can cause an upset stomach.
Other Considerations for Taking Calcium Supplements
Whether or not you take your calcium supplement with food depends on the type of supplement you take. However, it’s important to realize that your personal health circumstances can also dictate when you should take a supplement.
First, think about the other medications you take. Certain types of medicine can interfere with the absorption of your supplement (or vice versa) if you take them at the same time. Ask your doctor if this could possibly affect you. If it does, stagger your medication and supplement consumption throughout the day to keep it from happening.
In addition, different calcium supplements can affect people differently. Some supplements can cause everything from an upset stomach to constipation to excessive gas. If this happens to you, first increase your consumption of fluids and see if that fixes the problem. If not, consider switching your calcium supplement until you find one that works for you.
Remembering to take your calcium is easy once you find the right supplement for you. Daily consumption of calcium is one of the best habits you can have, and your strong bones and body will thank you for years to come.