Choosing Calcium supplement for ageing South Asians
There are many types of Calcium supplements available on the market: Citrate, Carbonate, Lactate, Gluconate.
Amount of Calcium
We need about 1,200mg of elemental Calcium per day. Most of the Calcium supplements also have Vitamin D3. For ageing South Asians, we need about 1,000 IU of Vitamin D3 per day.
Now one should examine the Nutrition label. Most of the good brand name supplements will give the amount of elemental value of the Calcium. We are looking for the elemental value of Calcium. Cheaper brands give the total weight including the whatever else is in the tablet such as Carbonate or Citrate. Make sure you actually look for elemental amount of Calcium.
Do not exceed more than 2,500 mg of elemental Calcium per day.
Do not exceed more than 2,000 IU of Vitamin D per day.
Do not exceed more than 500 mg of elemental calcium at one time, the body can not metabolize large quantities at a given time.
Check the label. In United States, good quality supplements will have USP marking. The best supplements meet the voluntary standards of the U.S. Pharmacopeia (USP) for quality, purity. A USP symbol indicates that the supplement is free of metals and lead, and it dissolves in a timely fashion.
According to USP standards, a supplement must contain 90 to 110% elemental calcium as listed on the label.
The Calcium must be dissolved in 30 to 40 minutes.
Calcium Citrate versus Calcium Carbonate
These are the two most common types of Calcium supplements. Calcium Citrate is acidic based, while Calcium Carbonate is alkaline based.
Calcium is best metabolized in the presence of acid. Calcium Citrate does not depend on the presence of stomach acid. If you suffer from heartburn, avoid Calcium citrate.
Calcium Carbonate about 20% elemental Calcium.
Calcium Carbonate does not cause constipation.
Calcium carbonate depends on extra stomach acid. It should be taken after meals. Many of the anti acids such as Tums now are available with small amounts of Calcium carbonate.
Calcium Carbonate about 40% elemental Calcium.
Calcium Carbonate may cause constipation.
Dolomite, Bone Meal or Oyster shell
These supplement should be avoided, as they may contain heavy metals or lead.
Calcium Phosphate, Calcium Gluconate and Calcium Lactate
These supplements contain lower level of elemental Calcium.
In reality, its just Calcium Carbonate, marketed heavily with misleading claims of curing many other ailments.
It is expensive and is no better than Calcium Carbonate or Calcium Citrate.
When to intake Calcium supplement?
Calcium supplement should not be taken with food to maximize bio-availability. For this reason, Calcium Citrate is a preferred supplement. It takes about 30 to 40 minutes for the Calcium supplement to dissolve. Take Calcium supplement about 45 to 60 minutes after meal or on an empty stomach with a glass of water.
1. Phytates bind with Calcium making it less bio available. Phytates are found in whole grains, lentils, beans. Presoaking, germinating and fermenting helps reduce Phytates. For example: sprouted Moong beans have lower Phytates. Fermentation in making Naan, Idli/Dosa reduces the Phytates. Fermented soy bean products (Tempeh) have lower Phytates.
3. Caffeine may slightly decrease Calcium absorption.
4. Alcohol reduces intestinal absorption of Calcium.
5. Potassium, Sodium, and protein increase Calcium excretion in urine, stool and sweat.
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