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At What Age Should I Take Calcium Supplements?

Sep 24, 2009

Calcium and calcium supplements can play a bone-saving role in your life, no matter how old you are. Typically, it is thought that children need calcium for their growing bones, but many don’t realize that bone growth doesn’t stop there. As you age, calcium becomes even more important to build and maintain bones and prevent osteoporosis.

By eating foods rich in calcium throughout your life, exercising and intaking adequate amounts of vitamin D, magnesium and additional vitamins and minerals, the effects of calcium deprivation can be extremely minimized. However, it is never too late to increase your calcium and other bone-building vitamin and mineral intake, and begin to strengthen your bones.

At What Age Should I Begin Taking Supplements?

Calcium supplements can help to prevent bone loss both during pregnancy and after the age of 35. This is the time that bones begin to naturally thin. Though all people lose bone mass as they get older, women are at higher risk for bone loss, especially after menopause. If you are unable to get the appropriate amount of calcium in your diet, it is important to begin to taking supplements at this time.  

How Much Calcium Should I Be Consuming?

It is recommended that you do not consume over 2500 milligrams of calcium daily. If you are taking calcium supplements and eat calcium-fortified products like cereal, bread and juice, you need to be sure not to exceed this recommendation. While it is difficult to get too much calcium from just food sources, when taking supplements and eating fortified foods, it is much easier to overdo it.

A diet rich in dairy, as well as leafy greens such as kale, chard and collards, will give you the necessary calcium in your diet. Track your calcium intake for several days and average it to determine if you are reaching the 2500 milligram mark or below it. You can use Fitday's online journal to track your daily calcium consumption. If you are below, begin taking a calcium supplement.

Another factor to note is that even if you are getting the proper amount of these vital minerals, it is important to exercise so that your body holds onto these minerals and builds your bone mass.

Which Calcium Supplements Are the Best?

There are many kinds of calcium formulations and brands. Be sure to check the amount of elemental calcium on the label, as that is the amount of calcium that your body will actually be getting from the tablet.

Calcium will always be combined with other compounds, such as carbonate or citrate. While calcium carbonate is typically cheaper, calcium citrate is a better choice for older adults that may lack the stomach acid to properly absorb the carbonate. However, calcium citrate supplements only contain half the amount of calcium as calcium carbonate supplements, and therefore, you may need a higher dose to get the same amount of calcium.

You should always take calcium supplements with a large glass of water and either with or after a meal. To increase absorption, you may want to take a lower dose supplement a couple times a day, instead of a larger dose all at one time.  

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