Calcium, the most abundant mineral in the body, is key for bone health. As a person with RA (rheumatoid arthritis), I’m interested in all things structural in my body! I have joint issues, so my goal is to support those joints as much as possible! Because I took prednisone for years, I want to counter potential osteoporosis in every way I can. One way is to make sure I am getting the proper nutrients to ensure the best bone health I can!
Two sources of calcium are food and manufactured supplements. I like nature’s way best! I reason we were meant to get nutrients in the foods we eat. Foods rich in calcium include dairy products such as milk, cheese and yogurt. Green, leafy vegetables such as broccoli make the cut as well as canned salmon with soft bones. Some breakfast cereals and certain brands of orange juice have been enriched with calcium.
There has been discussion for years in the pharmacy world about just how well absorbed are the calcium supplements. I figure, stick with nature when possible as it can’t be beat! It is best to get our daily requirement of calcium from foods. Calcium is absorbed through the wall of the small intestine into the blood stream. Vitamin D is required for absorption, as I covered previously and you can read about here. Calcium is 99% stored in bones and teeth to strengthen them. The other 1% is distributed throughout the body in blood, muscle and the fluid that bathe cells. Serum calcium is carefully controlled. Bones and teeth are used as a repository to maintain the control. Bones undergo constant resorption and deposition of calcium into new bone. The balance of this dynamic changes with age. Bone formation tops resorption in children and adolescents. During early and middle adulthood, the process equals out. Then, in aging adults, particularly postmenopausal women, bone breakdown outpaces it’s formation resulting in loss of bone that increases risk of osteoporosis over time. As an RA patient, I’m paying attention at this point!
According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, the amount of calcium needed daily depends on age and gender.
- 50 and younger 1,000mg/day
- 51 and older 1,200mg/day
- 70 and younger 1,000mg/day
- 71 and older 1,200mg/day
For the lactose-intolerant, there are two calcium supplements to help meet the daily calcium requirement. Calcium carbonate and calcium citrate. Calcium carbonate is the most widely available product. It is the ingredient in chewable antacids. It is less expensive than the citrate formulation. It should be taken with food because it needs stomach acid for better absorption. A maximum dose of 600mg should be taken at one time because above that dose, absorption diminishes. It is more advantageous to take one tablet twice a day than to take two tablets at once due to this absorption issue. Calcium citrate is absorbed with or without food, so take your pick! The carbonate seems to have more gas, bloating and constipation side effects.
I do want to mention to be sure when you start a new medication and take a calcium supplement, ask your pharmacist if the two interact. Calcium carbonate can cause a pH change and it is a divalent cation, therefore does have the potential to interact with other medications. A reasonable remedy would be timing the doses, this is something your pharmacist would be happy to advise you on.
Let’s get those bones strong and healthy! Let’s prevent any further problems with our health! I’d love to hear from you about how you are working to prevent osteoporosis! Using Arthritis Wisdom is always a good thing! XOXO Cathy