We all know that calcium is vital to the strength of our bones and teeth. But did you know that calcium is also critical to many other functions in your body? According to the National Institutes of Health, approximately 99% of your calcium intake goes to your bones and teeth, but that other 1% is an important part to the healthy functions of many of the soft tissues in your body. The calcium helps to regulate muscle and blood vessel contractions, hormones, nerve signals, and more. Proper calcium intake is essential to the healthy functioning of your body. For most people, the recommended daily intake is 1000-1200mg per day.
Most calcium can be absorbed from the foods in a healthy diet, especially dairy products. Some dark green vegetables, like broccoli, spinach, and cabbage, can also be sources of calcium. For those who do not get enough, they may need a supplement. The two types which are most effective are calcium carbonate and calcium citrate.
- Calcium carbonate: Most calcium supplements are in this form. It is best taken with meals as the stomach acids produced while eating aid in the absorption of the calcium. It has the highest amount of elemental calcium (40%), so you need fewer pills to reach your daily recommended dose. If you take 1000mg of calcium carbonate, you’ll actually get 400mg of calcium. Although found in many chewable antacids, this form of calcium is often well absorbed, and is good for people who may have problems with excess stomach acid.
- Calcium citrate: This is the best form of supplemental calcium, as the citrate helps to create the acidic environment that calcium is best absorbed in. You’re able to take this form of calcium anytime during the day. Although it is best absorbed, this supplement will only be about 20% elemental calcium, so you may have to take more pills throughout the day to reach your proper dose. For people not able to create enough stomach acid, this is a supplement that can easily be taken and absorbed.
Although these are both good supplements, several other vitamins and minerals are necessary to ensure that the calcium is absorbed and used properly by the body. Vitamin D, Vitamin K and magnesium are just a few of these. Any calcium supplements should be part of a balanced health regimen to get the most benefit. Also, calcium supplements should not be taken with medicines that require an empty stomach, as the calcium may bind the medicine, reducing both of their efficacies. If you have any questions or concerns, be sure to consult your health care provider.
There are a few types of calcium supplements that should be avoided. They may contain traces of elements or minerals not healthy for your body, or are not effective at delivering the calcium your body needs. The calcium supplements to avoid are:
- Calcium bicarbonate: Although calcium is in the name, this popular antacid will not provide the benefits of calcium absorption you’re looking for. The bicarbonate neutralizes the acid in your stomach necessary to absorb any calcium that is in the tablet.
- Coral Calcium: Although from a different source, coral calcium is simply calcium carbonate and is no different from any other calcium carbonate supplement. Since taking live coral from reefs is illegal in many parts of the world, companies that sell this product have to take it from other sources, often dead coral beds or fossilized ones. These sources run the risk of containing unsafe levels of lead, aluminum, strontium, and other compounds which many not be safe for the body.
- Bone and Oyster Shell: These are natural sources of calcium, but many have been found to have lead contained in them as well. There is no regulation or standardized testing of sources of calcium supplements from bone and oyster shell, so it’s best to avoid these types.
Although calcium is vital to the health of our bones and soft tissues, it can build up in our bodies, contributing to hard deposits, bone spurs, and the hardening of plaque in blood vessels, especially if there are deficiencies of critical vitamins like D and K. This allows the calcium to stick to substances, like the cholesterol in arteries, and harden over time as more builds up. Calcium deposits can form in joints and at the sites of injuries to bones and muscles. If the deposits become large enough, they can be painful and decrease mobility. Conditions like scleroderma can lead to calcifications of soft tissues in the body. Excess calcium consumption can also cause an excess of calcium in the blood that is free to collect in places where it shouldn’t.
These buildups from calcium can be removed with oral chelation therapy. This treatment works by binding the calcium in the deposits, creating a compound that can easily be removed from the body. Joints where buildups occurred feel looser, and arterial blockages can also be cleared by the body. The inflammation of tissues that attracts the buildup is also lessened by the body’s natural processes. Many people find that chelation helps a variety of conditions.
EDTA chelation therapy is an effective, at home method of taking chelation therapy, which was formerly only available in costly intra-venous treatments. Many people will find that a six-week program of daily chelation intake provides their bodies with the jumpstart needed to get on the road to better health. With moderate exercise and a balanced diet, oral chelation is a safe treatment that will not interfere with many medicines you may be taking for other conditions. Learn more about Cardio Renew in our chelation therapy FAQ.