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Lots of questions about calcium
December 13, 2007 11:09 AM   Subscribe

What the best formula for Calcium supplements?

I'm trying to get at least 1000 milligrams of calcium every day both through dairy products and calcium supplements but I'm confused about the best way of taking calcium. I'm 40 and pregnant. First of all calcium comes in lots of different forms (cal citrate, liquid cal, cal carbonate......). I seem to recall hearing the calcium from coral wasn't a good idea because of impurities but what about all the rest? Do some absorb better?

And then there's the accompanying supplements. Quite often, calcium is mixed with Vitamin D which I guess helps with absorption but if I'm already taking a multivitamin with plenty of Vitamin D, can I skip it? I usually take calcium in the morning and the multi at night so the Vitamin D isn't taken at the same time but I know D is fat soluble so it'll get stored so i don't need to take it at the exact same time as the calcium, right? I'd like to avoid taking too much D, if possible. Other calcium comes with magnesium and does that do the same thing for absorption?

And if I want to take 1000 mg entirely as a supplement (if I know I haven't been having enough dairy lately), should I take it all at once or stagger it? Somewhere I read something about your body not being able to absorb more than 500 mg at once.

Help me have strong bones!
posted by otherwordlyglow to Health & Fitness (6 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
 
I can't help with most of this, but as a 35-and-pregnant myself, my OB says that taking more than 500mg at a time is a waste, since the excess will be excreted. So I just do one of those chocolate chews morning and night.

Congrats, btw!
posted by tigerjade at 11:18 AM on December 13, 2007


Calcium Citrate is the best form to take, most come with added Vitamin D (for better absorption), but I wouldn't worry about taking too much Vitamin D unless you are taking a separate Vitamin D supplement and taking lots of it. I may be completely wrong, but I think you'll find Carbonate/Magnesium combinations versus Citrate/Vitamin D. I'm not sure, I was told that Calcium Carbonate was pretty useless.

I think you're OB is correct, I would avoid taking more than 500 mg of Calcium at a time.

If you don't mind giant horse pills, I'd go with Citracal Calcium Citrate Petites, each serving has 400mg of Calcium and 400IU of Vitamin D. Note: each serving is 2 pills.

If you don't like giant horse pills, I highly recommend Twinlab's Calcium Citrate Chewable wafers. I love these things, they are like big Sweet Tarts, it's like eating candy. Each serving is 4 wafers at 1000mg of Calcium Citrate and 400IU of Vitamin D, but you can just split the servings to stay around 500mg for Calcium and 200IU for D.

Ditto the congrats!
posted by SoulOnIce at 11:41 AM on December 13, 2007


I'm not sure, I was told that Calcium Carbonate was pretty useless.

Doctors seem to be divided on the issue of whether or not calcium carbonate is that bad. My doctor says that calcium citrate is slightly better absorbed but tells me I can take calcium carbonate if I wish.

Also note that the brand Caltrate is not calcium citrate even though the name might make you think that it is.

Another form of calcium citrate that some people like is UpCal-D, which is a powder you can dissolve in water. You would have to take one dose twice a day. I've found it at Wegman's in single-dose packets, or you can order it online.

Regarding the vitamin D issue, you'd have to ask your doctor but I don't believe that the dosage you're getting from milk, a multivitamin, and a calcium supplement would become problematic. I was diagnosed with a vitamin D deficiency at one point and the doc told me that your single highest source is still the sun, and that all other sources pale by comparison. So it seems like it'd be okay to take more with calcium unless you spend lots of time in the sun.
posted by cabingirl at 12:13 PM on December 13, 2007


I like the liquid stuff. Here's what I usually get. It's about $5 cheaper online than it is at my grocery store, so I usually buy 3 bottles at a time from iherb.
posted by peep at 1:10 PM on December 13, 2007


Oh, I was going to add: I have no expertise about what's better and why, but I started the liquid while I was pregnant, and it's the only calcium I've ever been able to stick with. Those chews taste NASTY to me and leave a totally gross aftertaste. Calcium pills sometimes make me queasy, and chewing Tums feels like fingernails on a blackboard to me.
posted by peep at 1:12 PM on December 13, 2007


There's actually a great deal more absorbable calcium in dark green leafy vegetables. Eat as many as you can. You can also sprinkle a little vinegar on the greens--this helps the calcium break down in a way which your body drinks up. Most of these veg have much more bio-available calcium than any dairy.

Taking way too much calcium can cause you to develop kidney stones, so try not to overshoot.
posted by Riverine at 5:47 PM on December 13, 2007


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