Is Calcium Supplementation Safe?
Did you know that 54 million U.S. adults age 50 and older have osteoporosis and bone loss? Women are more likely than men to experience bone loss. When a woman reaches menopause, she becomes at risk of developing osteoporosis due to the rapid bone loss during and about 5-10 years after menopause.
Given this, many women have resorted to taking calcium supplements, not knowing that this may do more harm than good.
Estrogen enhances calcium absorption in the bones and prevents the excessive breakdown of bone tissues (bone resorption), so when the production of estrogen stops, as in during menopause, bone loss occurs.
So, it’s really not the lack of calcium that is the problem, rather its absorption and bone resorption due to low estrogen levels.
This is an important point that not many practitioners are talking about. Calcium supplementation is one of the main recommendations given to people, especially women, if they show bone loss on a scan.
However, studies support that calcium supplements increase the risk for cardiovascular diseases, being associated with cases of heart attack, stroke, and risk of death. Moreover, cancer and kidney stones were reported to develop among men and women who took calcium supplements.
Calcium supplements are not universally safe. They may even increase your risk of developing, instead of preventing, osteoporosis. And since calcium from supplements gets absorbed easily, it can be deposited in your soft tissues, not in your bones. So it’s actually not doing what you’re thinking it’s supposed to do.
Diet & Lifestyle Tips for Strong Bones
The good news is that dietary calcium, calcium from food rather than a pill, does increase bone density and prevent osteoporosis. It turns out that since food is absorbed gradually, unlike calcium supplements, it is a more bioavailable form.
Here are some calcium-rich foods:
- Dairy products
- Leafy vegetables
- Cruciferous vegetables
- Seeds and almonds
- Sardines and canned salmon (with the bones)
Aside from food, make sure to do weight-bearing exercises or activities at least twice a week to increase your bone density. These are activities that force you to work against gravity, such as walking, jogging, and climbing. Tai chi and yoga also benefit bone density.
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