Calcium supplements are often recommended as a way to strengthen bones, therefore preventing the risk of osteoporosis and bone fractures. But recently, researchers have questioned this conventional health advice. There are two main reasons for this. Firstly, when taking calcium, you need a few other nutrients to increase its absorption and make it effective. Secondly, you could actually be consuming too much calcium, which is detrimental to your health.
Calcium efficiency is a team effort
In order for calcium to work its magic, it needs a few other nutrients by its side. The first team member is magnesium. Calcium and magnesium work together to keep the body functioning properly. For instance, calcium is necessary for blood clotting, while magnesium prevents blood clots from forming. Magnesium also maintains the correct balance of certain hormones, namely calcitonin and PHT. The levels of these hormones determine whether calcium is deposited in your bones (which is good) or soft tissue (not so good).
Another nutrient essential for calcium absorption, is vitamin D. But interestingly enough, vitamin D needs enough magnesium to be fully activated in our bodies. So by simply taking a vitamin D supplement, it won’t necessarily help calcium absorption. In fact, if you take too much vitamin D, it can actually deplete your magnesium level, or interfere with your calcium levels.
What To Do About A Calcium Deficiency?
Doctors recommend that it’s always better to get your nutrients in food than in pill form. Too much calcium can actually weaken your bones and even create kidney stones. In fact, recent studies suggest that calcium supplements can do more harm than good. Fortunately, with the right food choices, you can get enough calcium and other nutrients which will improve its absorption. Good dietary sources include almonds, soybeans, chickpeas (garbanzo beans), milk and yoghurt, and leafy greens like kale and spinach.
One of the biggest threats to bone health, is a sedentary life. If you sit a lot at work, try to find ways to move more during the day. Include weight-bearing exercises in your daily routine, as this will keep your bones healthy and strong!