You probably already know that calcium is important for your body and health. You hear it in the media, on food guides/labels and in your doctors office.
When I think of calcium I think of my years as a kid, where I was constantly told to “drink milk” so I could have strong bones. And now as I get older and age, it seems to still be important for me to have strong bones.
The same thing applies to you!
But women generally need more calcium than men and it’s important for you to know how much is needed during different stages of your life.
Calcium is basically a mineral that plays a huge role in almost all functions of your body. This includes the development and health of your teeth and bones and ultimately in protecting your body against bone loss as you age.
It’s recommended that adult women have a daily supplemental calcium intake of 1000 to 1200 mg before menopause and 1300 to 1500 mg after menopause.
Like most women have you probably have a fast-paced, pressure-packed life that makes getting your calcium from natural sources difficult. If you fit this situation then you might be interested in a calcium supplement.
As you age, your calcium needs continue to grow as a health concern. Women usually start to experience an increase in the rate of bone loss at age 30.
To protect yourself from this you would want to pay close attention to what you’re eating, especially your calcium intake, and workout with weights 2-3 times a week.
Facts and Tips For Getting Your Calcium Needs
Select a calcium supplement that contains a high amount of calcium in each pill, such as 400 to 600 milligrams. Calcium carbonate and calcium citrate are good choices. (Get your doctors approval first!)
Be aware that calcium derived from bone meal (from animals, dolomite, and oyster shells) has been found to contain substances that can be harmful, such as arsenic, lead, and mercury. These types of calcium are not recommended.
If you have difficulty swallowing large tablets, choose a flavored, chewable calcium supplement instead.
Know that low-cost generic or pharmacy-brand calcium carbonate or calcium citrate tablets are as good as name-brand products.
To avoid side effects, begin by taking half a tablet and gradually build up to the amount you need.
Side effects include gas, bloating, nausea, diarrhea, and constipation.
Take calcium carbonate supplements after a meal when there is plenty of acid in your stomach to help dissolve the tablet. If the tablet doesn’t dissolve, it can’t be absorbed and used by your body. (Calcium citrate supplements are readily absorbed on an empty stomach.)
Don’t take more than 1,000 to 1,500 milligrams of calcium a day, and don’t take more than 600 milligrams at one time. Your body can’t absorb more than 600 milligrams at one time.
Excess calcium is filtered out by your kidneys and can cause kidney stones if you’ve had them before.
Staying well hydrated helps prevent kidney stones. Be sure to get adequate vitamin D to help your body absorb calcium.
Vitamin D is found in fortified milk or soy milk and also in multivitamin supplements. Look for supplements containing 400 to 800 I U (international units) of vitamin D.
Exposing your skin to sunlight for 15 to 20 minutes a day without sunscreen will also allow your body to make the vitamin D it needs.