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Bones-Part 1: Should I take calcium? Pharmacist's recommendations on calcium

Q: I understand that about 40% of White women and 13% of white men age 50 or older in the United States will experience a hip, spine, or wrist fracture sometime during the remainder of their lives. Tell me, what can people do to prevent these fractures?


A: The most abundant mineral in the body is calcium. Calcium is required for building and maintenance of healthy bones and teeth, plays important roles in blood clotting, muscle function, and blood pressure. It also supports proper nerve function and colon health. It is estimated that 42% of Americans aren’t getting the recommended amount of dietary calcium. This may lead to bone loss and fractures.


Q: Can you tell us what foods have high amounts of calcium in them?


A: Some examples of calcium rich foods are:

Plain yogurt, cheesed, sardines, spinach, kale, fortified orange juice

(https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Calcium-HealthProfessional/)

Q: That is great to know Dr. Green. Does low calcium level cause any other health related problems besides bone health?


A: Although low calcium doesn’t present with signs, it can lead to “silent” conditions such as high blood pressure. In addition, excessively low level of calcium can trigger a variety of symptoms such as:

Tooth decay and gum disease

Abnormal heart rhythm

Brain fog and memory loss

Depression

Dry skin

Fatigue

Muscle cramps and spasms

Numbness and tingling in extremities

Premenstrual syndrome

Seizures

Weak, brittle nails


Q: Are there other reasons someone would end up with low calcium in their blood?


A: Certain medications can contribute to calcium deficiency. Examples include anti-seizure medications (e.g. phenobarbital), glucocorticoids (e.g. prednisone), and proton pump inhibitors (e.g. Omeprazole) reduce the absorption of calcium.

Low vitamin D levels or abnormal parathyroid hormone (PTH) level can cause calcium deficiency, even if you consume enough calcium


Gastroenteritis or chronic inflammatory bowel diseases like Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis affect calcium absorption


Healthy kidneys play an important role in regulating calcium. Less calcium is retained in the body by diseased kidneys


Estrogen plays an important role in calcium absorption by increasing blood levels of vitamin D. At menopause, the drop in estrogen levels can increase the risk of osteoporosis in women


Pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas), is sometimes accompanied by a calcium deficiency


Q: Do you have specific suggestions to help your bones?


A. When it comes to bone health, it is important to get a baseline DEXA scan or bone density test to determine how healthy your bones are. Weight-bearing exercises, eating calcium-rich foods, using bio-identical hormone therapy if appropriate, avoiding smoking, and taking the right calcium supplement are some of the best ways to keep your bones healthy.


Q: Dr. Green, is it true that calcium deficiency can affect your weight?


A: Yes it may. Studies have shown that very low calcium levels can contribute to weight gain. A severe low calcium level after menopause can increase a dangerous type of fat called visceral fat. This fat surrounds your liver, stomach, and intestine. Visceral fat can increase the risk of problems such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and obesity.


Q: Looking through the drugstore shelves or an online search yields hundreds, if not thousands of calcium-containing OTC products. What are some recommendations when choosing the right calcium supplement?


A: When choosing a calcium supplement, it is important to pay attention to key ingredients that assist in the absorption and function of calcium in your body. Most calcium supplements have calcium and magnesium. Some also contain Vit D, Vitamin K, zinc, copper, manganese, and more. Calcium comes in many forms. The kind of calcium salt and the presence of other ingredients in the product can make it easier for the body to absorb and prevent some of the unpleasant gastrointestinal side effects common with other forms.

The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for adults up to the age of 50 is 1,000 mg of calcium daily. Women over 50 and everyone over the age of 71 should take 1,200 mg of calcium per day. Bone Maximizer and Bone up are two of the best calcium supplements available at https://us.fullscript.com/welcome/drsgreenrx