A patient contacted me about writing a tip about choosing a calcium supplement. Thank you so much Janna for suggesting the subject; this one’s for you.
There are many reasons to consider buying a calcium supplement, but the most common reason is to maintain healthy bone mass (next week I’ll talk about this topic). Calcium is found in most foods, but especially nuts, seeds, green vegetables and dairy products. Magnesium helps the absorption of calcium, however most milk has very little magnesium. Also, most cows are corn-fed instead of pasture-fed, so the calcium content is much lower.
Another fact to consider is calcium is best absorbed in an acidic environment. As we age we produce less stomach acid. A 60-year old produces about 50% the stomach acid of a 25-year old. Low stomach acid means less calcium will be absorbed, whether from food or a supplement.
Also, the more “added” ingredients used in any supplement, including preservatives and fillers such as magnesium stearate, the less calcium and other minerals you will absorb.
It is best to get a calcium supplement with magnesium, preferably a 1:3 ration, which may be tough to find. My preference is using herbs such as horsetail, oatstraw, dandelion root, nettle, plantain and shepherds purse. They are balanced in calcium and other minerals that help calcium absorption. Taking isolated minerals or vitamins like calcium, or B6 for example, are great for temporary relief, but usage for more than 2 months will start to cause imbalances in other minerals and vitamins. It is best not to stay on any isolated substances for long periods of time and instead choose foods and herbs to support your health.