The Healthy Well

Spiritual, Mental, and Physical Refreshment: Grab a Cup

Do You Really Need That Calcium Supplement?


500 mg calcium supplement tablets, with vitami...
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After breaking my right fibula (the lower part of my leg)  the thought of having early onset to osteoporosis crossed my mind.  I was surprised to learn that bone loss is considered a major health threat in the United States.  When a nurse friend of mine made the remark that breaking bones located in the extremities, such as lower legs and wrists could be signs of osteoporosis, I became a little more than concerned.

It might seem logical to conclude that I need a calcium supplement.  After all, lower bone mass occurs in people age 50 and older.  Only 27% of women in that group actually achieve the recommended calcium intake and only 40% of women between the ages of 20-40 years of age comply.

Information regarding daily calcium intake varies.  The Institute of Medicine sets the Tolerable Upper Intake Level (UL) at 25,000 milligrams a day.  Other sources claim that depending on gender and age, daily calcium requirements should range anywhere between 1,000 – 1,300 milligrams  a day.  But, is it really all that simple?

Some years ago, I remember reading that some groups believed calcium supplements were pushed far too much on women.  The argument was that it is more likely that women lack magnesium rather than calcium.  Excessive calcium builds up over time leading to more serious ailments, even contributing to depression if not in balance with its counterpart, magnesium.  A more recent article suggested that calcium might even put women at the risk of heart attacks.

As one who is not prone to take supplements (or any medication) for the sake of taking them, I have to agree with the nutritionist: it is better to get your nutrients from food.  By maintaining a well-balanced diet with daily physical activity, the risk of osteoporosis can be reduced.

If you’re wondering whether or not you are getting your daily calcium requirements, find your baseline.  You can do this by keeping a food log for three or more days without changing your intake.  Compare what you normally eat to the suggested daily requirements and adjust.

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