Osteoporosis, also called porous bone, is a health condition that makes bones weak and results in fractures. It grows gradually with time and is usually only diagnosed when a fall or sudden impact breaks a bone (fracture).
A healthy bone resembles a honeycomb under a microscope; however, during osteoporosis, the holes and spaces in the honeycomb expand more than those in healthy bone. Osteoporotic bones lack density or mass and have abnormal tissue structure.
In 2022, approximately 6.2 million Australians aged 50 had osteoporosis or osteopenia. In addition, studies suggest that roughly one in two women and up to one in four men 50 years old and older will experience fractures due to osteoporosis. Fortunately, you can treat osteoporosis with bone-strengthening medicines.
Calcium Supplements For Osteoporosis Prevention
In the past, most people advocated for using calcium supplements when no other effective interventions were available to prevent osteoporosis. They believed that boosting calcium intake would improve bone formation. Calcium is a vital mineral that the body requires for good health, bones, and teeth.
Some foods naturally have calcium, and it can be added to other foods. It has also been used as a nutrition supplement and is available in medicines such as tums. We receive most of our calcium by consuming a good diet and through natural sunlight.
Several studies reveal that calcium supplements roughly prevent some postmenopausal bone loss by 20%. If you are a woman and cannot get sufficient calcium in your diet, your primary healthcare provider may suggest a supplement, mainly if you are highly prone to osteoporosis. Nevertheless, the added calcium will not boost bone density, and supplements don’t stop bones from breaking.
What Is The Best Calcium For Osteoporosis?
Knowing the best kind of calcium for osteoporosis is crucial. If your doctor suggests calcium supplements, know that many options are available. The following are a few things to consider:
- Calcium carbonate, available in over-the-counter antacids, is an affordable and effective calcium source. Yet, antacids may also include aluminum, sodium, or sugar, which could be adverse for some patients.
- Calcium citrate is a bit more costly, but it is better absorbed by the body, particularly in older people. Calcium citrate is easily absorbed in an empty stomach compared to calcium carbonate. When consumed with food, their absorption rates are similar. Moreover, a typical class of medications known as proton pump inhibitors limits the absorption of calcium carbonate.
- Calcium gluconate, calcium lactate, and calcium phosphate lack sufficient calcium to be effective supplements.
- Ensure the supplement’s label states “purified” or contains the United States Pharmacopeia (USP) symbol. Other products may be manufactured from bone meal, dolomite, or oyster shell and include high levels of hazardous metals.
- Add your supplement with food and avoid consuming more than 500 milligrams at a time.
- Drink enough water.
Calcium supplements can result in side effects such as bloating, constipation, and gas. Research has also revealed more severe downsides.
- One study discovered a 17% higher relative risk of kidney stones among women on calcium and vitamin D supplements.
- Another study showed a higher relative risk of hospitalization from acute gastrointestinal symptoms, most prevalently indigestion or constipation.
- Over one study has discovered higher relative risks of hip fractures—something supplements should prevent.
- Several studies reveal calcium supplements may boost the risk of heart attack and stroke.
- If you’re highly prone to getting heart disease, including osteoporosis, thoroughly consider the risks of calcium supplements.
Consult Your Doctor
Managing nutritional needs and dietary supplements can be very complex. Therefore, you should always consult your doctor before taking calcium or any other nutritional supplement because calcium supplements can disrupt specific medications.
If you’re experiencing the side effects that come with taking these supplements, your doctor may recommend another option or provide nutritional counseling to teach you how to enjoy more calcium in your daily diet
While calcium supplements were once advocated to prevent osteoporosis, their effectiveness in boosting bone density and preventing fractures is still being examined. Studies show some benefits but do not disregard the side effects and heart-related risks of these supplements. You should consult a doctor before starting any supplementation, which is part of a comprehensive osteoporosis management approach.