2022's 10 Best
Updated: August 28, 2019
Calcium is one of the critical nutrients that the body needs to function each day. It‘s used to help keep your bones strong, keep blood moving throughout the body, allow hormones to be released, cause muscles to contract, and much more.
But the body can’t make calcium on its own. This means that you’re required to consume it through your diet. Calcium is found in many foods, including dairy products, green vegetables like kale and spinach, beans, and other products. While these foods do have calcium in them, it can be difficult to get enough of this nutrient each day. This is what makes calcium supplements so beneficial for many people.
How Calcium Supplements Work
Calcium supplements provide the body with additional calcium that it needs to function effectively. These supplements contain calcium in an easily-digestible form so that the body can access it quickly.
Many calcium supplements require stomach acid to break them down. Stomach acid is constantly found in the stomach, but its levels often increase and its pH decreases with the presence of food. These factors can make the digestive capabilities of the stomach more or less effective, depending on your timing.
Because of this benefit, some calcium supplements advise users to take doses of the supplement with food. This can allow the calcium to be digested more easily and quickly, allowing the body to use it more efficiently.
The Health Benefits of Calcium Supplements
Calcium plays an important role in many reactions throughout the body. It is an important mineral for a wide range of different functions. Some of the most important include the following.
IMPROVED BONE HEALTH
One of the best-known benefits of calcium is its ability to improve bone health. Almost 99 percent of the calcium found in the entire human body is stored in the bones and teeth. Calcium is essential to the growth, development, and maintenance of bone throughout the body. Bones are responsible for supporting the entire body, and they are forced to withstand high amounts of wear and tear throughout the day, especially if you are active.
Bone density is the main measurement for bone health. Bone density is a measure of the amount of minerals in bone tissue, and it is measured as the number of standard deviations away from the normal density of a healthy individual that is the same gender and age.
A bone density between one and 2.5 standard deviations below average is referred to as low bone density, and a density below 2.5 standard deviations is referred to as having osteoporosis. Osteoporosis occurs when bone replacement is slower than bone degradation. This can cause weaker bones, an increased risk of fractures, and reduced overall height.
Calcium supplements can help to ensure that the bones are receiving enough calcium to maintain their strength and to continue producing new bone cells to replace damaged or old ones. This is especially important as you age. After the age of around 25, bone density begins to decline. But taking a calcium supplement can help to slow this loss and prevent bone weakening and osteoporosis.
HIGHER FAT LOSS
Some studies have noted that calcium levels in the body may play a direct role in fat and weight loss. These studies have found that individuals who had a high body fat percentage or a high body mass index often also had lower levels of calcium in their blood.
One study looked at college students who had low levels of calcium intake. They provided half of these students with 600 milligrams of calcium each day, and the control group did not receive a supplement. Researchers found that those taking a calcium supplement lost significantly more weight compared to the control group.
BETTER MUSCLE FUNCTION
Calcium is one of the most important contributors to muscle function. Calcium is released by the muscles when they become stimulated, and then these ions can bind to the molecules on the muscles that allow them to contract and shorten. The cessation of calcium release is what causes the muscles to be able to relax.
Without enough calcium, the body would not be able to move, and muscle contraction would be highly difficult, if not impossible. This can be especially important for individuals who work out or who live very active lifestyles.
IMPROVED BLOOD CLOTTING
Blood clotting is critical for survival. If blood did not have the ability to clot, any little cut would cause you to bleed out and die. Clotting allows the blood to solidify and stop flowing from open wounds. This process results in scab formation as well.
Calcium is one of many important clotting factors that allow this process to happen more effectively. It is also a key player in a number of reactions that play a role in this process.
LESSENED SYMPTOMS OF PREMENSTRUAL SYNDROME
Premenstrual syndrome, also known as PMS, affects many women of all ages and demographics. It is associated with many negative side effects, including bloating, anxiety, depression, fatigue, irritability, and much more. Trying to keep these symptoms under control can be difficult, but calcium supplements can help with this goal.
One study looked at 66 college students who experienced these symptoms. They provided half of these students with calcium supplementation and the other half with a placebo. They found that after both one and two months, the group receiving the supplement experienced significantly lower levels of depression, emotional changes, bloating, pain, acne, headaches, and more.
Other studies have found similar results, showing that calcium supplements can be highly beneficial in easing symptoms of PMS, especially with repeated use for multiple months.
What to Look for When Buying Calcium Supplements
Calcium supplements come in four main forms: calcium carbonate, calcium citrate, calcium lactate, and calcium gluconate.
Calcium carbonate contains 40 percent pure calcium. It requires stomach acid to be absorbed, so it is often taken with food to allow faster digestion to occur. Calcium citrate contains around 21 percent pure calcium, but it is much easier for the body to absorb. This form of supplement does not need as much stomach acid to be absorbed and digested, so it can be taken with or without food. This makes it a more convenient option for many people. Calcium citrate is also much easier on the digestive tract and is associated with fewer side effects.
Calcium lactate is around 13 percent pure calcium, and calcium gluconate is about 9 percent pure calcium. Both products are not as concentrated and cannot be as easily digested by the body as the aforementioned two forms. Because of this, these two products are not often produced by supplement companies.
The Proper Dosage for Calcium Supplements
Supplements vary widely on the amount of calcium that they contain in each serving. These doses can range from around 200 milligrams per serving to more than 1200 milligrams. It is important to look at the specific dose included in each supplement and to select a product based on your personal needs.
The total amount of calcium that the body requires varies based on age and gender. Children between nine and 18 years old require around 1300 milligrams of calcium each day. For adults ages 19 to 50, this daily requirement decreases to 1000 milligrams for both men and women.
Then, after the age of 50 and up to the age of 70, this amount remains at 1000 milligrams per day for men but increases to 1200 milligrams per day for women. Then, after the age of 70, the daily recommended dose for men increases to 1200 milligrams as well.
This increased dosage helps to counteract health issues that can accompany aging. In addition to these daily requirements, there are also limits on the total amount of calcium you should consume each day to avoid unwanted side effects or health issues. Adults under the age of 50 should not exceed 2500 milligrams of calcium each day, and adults over the age of 50 should limit their intake to 2000 milligrams.
If you are taking in a fair amount of calcium in your daily diet, choosing a supplement that contains nearly an entire day’s worth of calcium is unnecessary and could actually result in you experiencing many negative side effects. On the other hand, if you consume a diet very low in calcium, choosing a supplement with only 200 milligrams of calcium will require you to take many servings to achieve the proper daily dose.
Possible Side Effects of Calcium Supplements
Calcium supplements can be accompanied by a few side effects, but these are often quite minor and may subside over time with repeated use. Two of the most common side effects are constipation and gas.
These supplements can stress the intestinal tract, especially early on. This can result in difficulty with digestion and the issues noted above. Some researchers have noted that calcium citrate supplements tend to be easier on the digestive system, leading to a reduction in these symptoms.
Pain in the stomach or a loss of appetite can also occur with calcium supplement use. Taking these products can cause nausea, vomiting, or pain, and these factors can lead to reduced appetite. This can lead to other health issues as well, such as weight loss or malnutrition.
These side effects can sometimes be minimized by using calcium citrate supplements, which tend to be easier for the body to digest. Taking a lower dose of your supplement can also reduce the severity of the side effects.
Calcium supplements can also interact with various other medications. Some of these include antibiotics, diuretics, anti-convulsants, and more. Some potential interactions can be difficulty with iron or tetracycline absorption. If you are taking other medications, you should talk with your doctor to be sure that there will not be any negative interactions or issues.
Also, if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, you should consult your doctor before taking a calcium supplement. These products are not regulated by the FDA, so their composition can vary. Ensuring that there are no negative side effects or drug interactions is also important for the health of your child.
Best Calcium Supplements
Our top 10 list of calcium supplements is organized to reflect what you most value in your supplements. First and foremost is quality. All of our top ten supplements meet high standards of quality and come from brands with a proven record in excellence and purity. Another important factor in deciding the top ten was cost. You don’t have to pay through the nose to get a high-quality calcium supplement. In addition, all the companies represented on our list have stellar records with customer service and prompt shipping. This ensures that your supplement experience is enjoyable from the first click to your final dose.
- Side Effects of Calcium Supplements Livestrong
- Which Calcium Supplement Is Best Absorbed in the Body? Livestrong
- Bone Mass Measurement: What the Numbers Mean National Institutes of Health
- Calcium: Health benefits, foods, and deficiency Medical News Today
- Effect of calcium on premenstrual syndrome: A double-blind randomized clinical trial PubMed
- Calcium Supplements: Should You Take Them? Healthline
- 8 Fast Facts About Calcium Healthline
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