The choices of calcium supplements can be a daunting task. When we look at the brand, we are really looking at the bottle and the choice of pictures and words that the brand conveys to us, while shopping for other things at the same time. Few of us realize that there are several different calcium compounds that are popular and available over the counter.
Here are the three compounds:
1. Calcium Carbonate
2. Calcium Gluconate
3. Calcium Citrate
We have to look at the three choices and understand that, although we are seeing “Calcium" in each form, the terms “Carbonate", “Gluconate", and “Citrate" are key words to consider when picking these supplements.
Like other essential minerals, calcium needs to be bonded to other compounds so it is easily absorbed into the body. The term for this is: ‘bioavailability’.
Calcium carbonate is a naturally-occurring compound, found in rocks, the bones of mammals, and dairy products. This compound is synthesized in a lab for calcium supplements to assure purity. Calcium carbonate has other uses such as well. It is used for inactive fillers for drug tablets. Powders and capsules and as part of popular antacid formulations.
Calcium gluconate, on the other hand, is another for m of calcium that is used to treat hypocalcaemia, or low calcium levels in the blood. This compound has 9.3% bioavalable calcium in its purest form. As with calcium carbonate, it is used as a supplement for treatment of osteoporosis and osteomalacia ('brittle bone’ disease, which is also brought on by Vitamin D deficiency).
Calcium citrate is commonly used as a food additive. It can be seen, as well, as ‘E333’ on some food ingredient declarations. It is also used as a ‘water softener’ to remove excess metal ions in drinking water (to make it taste better).
The bioavailability of Calcium Citrate is 2.5 times that of calcium carbonate. Patients that have undergone gastric bypass surgery (Roux-en-Y) or weight-loss surgery are usually instructed to take Calcium citrate.
There are 5 forms of Calcium compound:
1. Calcium Carbonate,
2. Calcium Citrate,
3. Calcium Gluconate,
4. Calcium Phosphate,
5. Calcium Lactate
We won't go into all the uses of the Calcium Phosphate or Calcium Lactate here, it's just for reference. Staying informed about what supplements are available, and why one may take them is important. Calcium or the lack of it affects the body directly.
Most of us are acquainted with the fact that Calcium is a part of our bone and teeth make-up, but Calcium plays many other vital roles in our bodies. Did you know that, if our bodies don't get enough Calcium intake, that it will demineralize bone to maintain normal blood calcium levels?
Calcium mediates the constriction and relaxation of blood vessels (vasoconstriction and vasodilation), nerve impulse transmission and muscle contraction. It also secrets hormones like insulin 3. This has further reaching impacts into the nerve structure.
Calcium plays a vital role in the body, throughout a person's lifespan, and is necessary to keep the proper levels up to assure proper body function. Supplements help to shore up the loss of calcium in our diets, especially when many have milk allergies and have to resort to soy or rice milk. It is always good to check with your physician about taking supplements. If you run into a Physician that does not recommend any supplements, you should seek another opinion. Many Physicians are reading the medical journals and seeing the health benefits that supplements carry today, and although it takes them time to study this area, those that have the experience in this area can be a fantastic help.
*Note: Calcium supplements, e. g. as calcium citrate, may increase aluminum toxicity. Patients with renal disease are at an increased risk of toxicity.
For more information on Calcium and it's application in the body see:
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