kale green washed in sink

image: kale, a good source of calcium

|| 29 August 2019

Do Calcium Supplements Work?

For women of certain age, calcium is important. But over the past decades the guidelines for how and when and how much calcium we should take have changed. What is the latest? Are calcium supplements still a good idea?

How can we best keep our bones strong, so that if we fall, we will NOT break? In her elder years, my grandmother had some terrible falls — and ended up with some spectacular bruises — but only one of those falls (in her late 80s) made a small fracture in her left wrist. I have always hoped to keep my bones strong enough that I will never have even a small fracture.

When I was in my mid-40s, my primary care physician recommended taking CitraCal Plus Magnesium regularly to keep my bones strong. The guidelines then indicated that calcium needed magnesium to be absorbed by the body — and it needed it in the ratio of 1 mg of magnesium for every 2 mg of calcium. Those two minerals were to be taken within two hours of each other.

Now those guidelines are OUT.

More recently nutritional guidelines say that calcium and magnesium supplements should not even be taken within two hours (else they will neutralize each other). And given some recent research, many doctors are now saying that you should not take calcium supplements at all. All your calcium intake should come from food.

With the new guidelines in mind, I kept a food diary for several days and then did a calcium audit. Oh dear! I found that I was seriously overestimating how much calcium I was getting from food — even with all that kale soup and tofu I had been eating. Not to mention the frozen fruit whipped in kefir.

For more about the latest on calcium, this article from Johns Hopkins.

be chic, stay slim, keep your bones strong — Anne Barone