Snap, Crackle, and Pop

Well, here I sit with a broken foot thinking, Wow - now I have a lot of time to blog...

Seeing as this not my first clumsy fall (broke wrist roller skating in 4th grade and broke ankle eight years ago while I was eight months preggers), I've decided to blog about Calcium supplements - pretty pharmaceutical and fitting, no?

Well, here's the latest from Pharmacist's Letter:

Calcium and Vitamin D

Why do I need calcium and vitamin D?

Calcium and vitamin D are important for bone health. Nerves, muscles, and blood vessels need calcium to work. Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium, and is needed for immune system function. There is some evidence that vitamin D helps prevent cancer and cardiovascular disease.

What are sources of calcium and vitamin D?

Calcium is found in foods. Dairy products are good sources. Eight ounces of yogurt (228 gram) or milk (1 cup [236 mL]), or a 1.5-oz. (43 gram) serving of cheese, can provide around 300 mg. Fortified orange juice can provide 300 mg per 8-oz. (236 mL) serving. Vitamin D is made by sun-exposed skin and is found in some foods. One of the best sources is salmon. A 3-oz. (86 gram) serving of sockeye salmon provides almost 800 IU. A 3-oz. serving of tuna canned in water provides about 150 IU. Dairy products fortified with vitamin D are good sources. Examples include a cup of fortified milk (115 to 124 IU), a cup of fortified orange juice (80 IU), or 6-ounces (171 grams) of fortified yogurt (80 IU). Calcium and vitamin D are also available as supplements.

Do I need a supplement? Are they safe?

Many people are low on vitamin D. It is hard to get enough vitamin D from food, and most people don't get much sun exposure because they use sunscreens, spend long hours indoors, or live at a northern latitude. Most people need a vitamin D supplement. Ask if you should have your vitamin D level checked. People typically get 300 mg calcium from their diet daily, not including dairy. If you include two servings of high-calcium foods (e.g., dairy), you can get around 900 mg per day. Supplementation with just 300 mg of calcium daily, or adding a third high-calcium serving, will provide 1200 mg daily. You may have heard calcium supplements are unsafe. While there has been negative press about heart attacks and prostate cancer, calcium supplements have not been proven to be unsafe. But don't go overboard with calcium supplements; get your calcium from diet when possible. However, avoid calcium supplements from coral or dolomite (a kind of limestone); they can contain heavy metals like lead.

How do I choose a calcium or vitamin D supplement?

Most calcium products contain calcium carbonate (e.g., Tums, Caltrate) or calcium citrate (e.g., Citracal). Both work. Calcium carbonate is cheap and provides the most calcium. Calcium citrate may be better for patients who don't absorb calcium as well, like older people or those on heartburn medications (e.g., omeprazole [Prilosec; Losec (Canada)], ranitidine [Zantac], others). Calcium is best absorbed if no more than 500 mg is taken at a time. Some supplements contain other ingredients (e.g., magnesium, vitamin K), but these don't work any better than those with just calcium. Vitamin D is available over-the-counter in combination with calcium or by itself. There are also high-dose vitamin D products that are prescribed if you have low vitamin D levels. It is okay to take a multivitamin or eat vitamin D-containing foods while taking prescription-strength vitamin D. Vitamin D is available as either vitamin D2 or vitamin D3. Either can be used. Look for a vitamin D supplement that is USP Verified (in Canada, a product with a Natural Product Number [NPN]). These products meet certain quality standards.

How much calcium and vitamin D do I need?

Adults up to 50 years old need 1000 mg of calcium daily. Adults over 50 years old need 1200 mg of calcium daily. Most experts recommend that adults get 800 IU to 2000 IU of vitamin D daily.

[August 2010]

**Reprinted from a Detail-Document from**

Okay - but what about actual Calcium Absorption - the article states that Calcium is best absorbed if 500mg or less is taken at a time. How much Calcium is absorbed from a glass of milk? (My husband is bombarding me with milk and Vivactiv, a yummy chewable Calcium supplement right now)

Well - I don't pretend to have all the answers - but check out this interesting web site:

I don't want to copy it all, but some interesting things are suggested...

Osteoporosis occurs in countries where they drink the most milk...huh?

There are pros and cons to this whole argument...

Here is a rebuttal to milkmyths:

This guy basically says, let's not forget to take into account genetics, latitude and sun exposure, diet, and life style.

I do not purport to have any answers to this. But I see that many of these sites say the same thing: We all need:

1. Physical Exercise
2. To eat fruits and veggies for a balanced diet
3. Injest less caffeine

Even Harvard isn't sold on milk:

I'm going to stick to my dairy, continue to strive for a balanced diet, and chew my Vivactiv - what do you think?

Maybe I should just lay in the sun and find an anti-clutz class - that might work too



  1. Chances are the calcium supplement you are taking now is a rock source of calcium. The label will say "calcium carbonate", which is nothing more than limestone. AlgaeCal Plus contains an organic, plant-sourced calcium form derived from a unique South American marine algae called Algas Calcareas™.


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