Is your Calcium Supplement really effective?

by Team NCNR | February 15, 2017 Views :

How many people do you know take Calcium supplements? Your Mother, grand-mom, grand-dad, office colleagues who do weight training…

Now try to find out, how many of them have actually gained some benefit by supplementing with calcium? Except for maybe your colleague, very few people will tell you that their calcium supplement has made a significant difference in terms of improving bone mass density or reducing the risk of developing chronic bone conditions such as osteoporosis. This is because how much calcium truly reaches your bones is a big factor in determining the efficacy of your Calcium supplement.

Meeting Calcium requirements through diet alone is not possible

Most of the time, we are advised to get the requisite Calcium from food sources. While fundamentally there is nothing wrong with the advice, practically it is difficult to follow through.

Why you ask? Because of 4 major reasons –

  • We do not take enough of Calcium-rich foods in our diet. How many of you drink milk (the best bioavailable calcium rich food source) everyday? Hmmm…
  • Of course if you are lactose intolerant, then milk has to be cut off completely. Surprisingly, a lot of us are also lactose- sensitive. Think of the last time you had milk, did you end up with a grumbling stomach later?
  • Even if you manage to include calcium-rich foods in your daily diet, how much of the Calcium is actually absorbed? Well, according to research it’s not more than 30%.
  • Lastly, religious beliefs and diet fads that require you to eliminate certain food groups. Case in point being Veganism, that demands avoiding milk and animal meats, both of which are source of bioavailable Calcium.

Calcium Supplementation is essential

Thus, considering the above scenario, Calcium supplementation then becomes mandatory. However, as is with most of the dietary supplements, the form and bioavailability is crucial to reap the benefits from it. But before we discuss different Calcium forms and their efficacy in maintaining bone health, you need to first know two key concepts -

  • Elemental Calcium

Elemental Calcium is the actual amount of Calcium that is available for absorption. In nature, Calcium as an element is found in the form of a salt bound to other compounds. These Calcium forms contain varying amounts of elemental Calcium.

  • Bioavailability

Bioavailability is the amount of Calcium that is actually absorbed and utilized by the body. Depending upon the organic compounds to which Calcium is bound, the bioavailability differs for each Calcium form.

While Elemental calcium percentage will help you in planning your supplement dose, the most important factor in determining the true worth of any supplement is the bioavailability of the Calcium form used in it.

Which are the best calcium forms for supplementation? Based on their bioavailability and elemental calcium percentage, 3 forms- Calcium Citrate Malate (CCM), Calcium Bisglycinate and Calcium Phosphate are best choices for supplementation.

Look for these Calcium forms in your supplement

There are numerous types of Calcium supplements and finding the right kind amongst these, requires the understanding of different types of Calcium forms. The cheapest Calcium supplements contain Calcium in form of Calcium carbonate because of its high elemental calcium percentage. However, because of its poor bioavailability, it is one of the crude forms of Calcium to be used for supplementation.

So then which are the best forms for supplementation? Based on their bioavailability and elemental calcium percentage, 3 forms- Calcium Citrate Malate (CCM), Calcium Bisglycinate and Calcium Phosphate are best choices for supplementation. Here’s a comparative diagram of the above 3 forms vs. Calcium carbonate

Let’s dive deeper and know more about the Calcium forms viz. CCM and Calcium Bisglycinate.

Calcium citrate malate—The best form of Calcium available

CCM is a water-soluble calcium salt of citric acid and malic acid, that was patented in late 1980’s. Its bioavailability stems from its water-solubility and its method of dissolution. When dissolved, it releases calcium ions and a calcium citrate complex. Calcium ions are absorbed directly into intestinal cells, and the citrate complex enters the body through Para-cellular absorption. An analysis of 15 randomized trials concluded that calcium citrate was absorbed 22% to 27% better than calcium carbonate, whether taken on an empty stomach or with food.

CCM has been shown to facilitate calcium retention and bone accrual in children and adolescents. In adults, it effectively promotes the consolidation and maintenance of bone mass. A study published in the Journal of Nutrition has shown that CCM supplementation led to greater bone development i.e. 44-47% as compared calcium carbonate supplementation. It is also recognized as a calcium source that does not increase the risk of kidney stones, and in fact it protects against stone-forming potential.

Calcium Bisglycinate- The highly absorbable form

Calcium Bisglycinate, is a relatively new form of Calcium and is considered as the most absorbable form. This high absorption rate is attributed to it being an amino acid chelate. Chelates are bonds that bind the mineral to chelators, in this case it being amino acid Glycine.

When food is eaten it is broken down into various compounds and molecules in the stomach and passed into the intestine for absorption. These compounds need protein carriers to ensure their absorption from the intestine in to the blood stream.

The glycine in Calcium bisglycinate serves the purpose of protein carrier and results in high Calcium absorption. Our body is very efficient at absorbing amino acids and Glycine is readily identified and absorbed across the intestinal wall.

Another factor that hinders mineral absorption from small intestine is the presence of anti-nutrients like phytates, lignans, tanins, fiber etc.). These anti-nutrients bind to the minerals and either prevent, block or limit their absorption. Calcium bisglycinate has calcium bound to two (‘bis”) glycine molecules which form strong bonds and prevent calcium from interacting with these anti-nutrients and thus ensures high bioavailability.

Vitamin D3 and Vitamin K27 are critical for utilization of Calcium

Getting the right kind of Calcium form in a supplement is only one part of your supplementation. But to actually make it work for your bones, it needs to be complimented with absorption boosters like Vitamin K and Vitamin D and other associated minerals involved in bone metabolism.

Most commonly used Calcium supplements contain only Calcium and Vitamin D combination, since Vitamin D’s role in Calcium absorption is very well-known. Vitamin D3 is the active form and is required for absorption of Calcium from the intestine into the blood stream.

Once the Calcium enters the blood stream, it is crucial to ensure that it reaches bones and gets incorporated into the bone structure. This role is carried out by Vitamin K2-7, the active form of Vitamin K. In absence of Vitamin K2-7 the absorbed Calcium runs a risk of getting deposited into unwanted places such as arteries of heart and result in blockages.

Thus, the synergistic action of Vitamin D3 and Vitamin K27 is essential for optimum utilization of Calcium from your supplement.

Getting the right kind of Calcium form in a supplement is only one part of your supplementation. But to actually make it work for your bones, it needs to be complimented with absorption boosters like Vitamin K27 and Vitamin D3 and other associated minerals involved in bone metabolism.

NCNR Conclusion

Bone health is critical to your quality of life. You may be taking a Calcium supplement, but without the right form and synergistic nutrients, it may end up doing more harm than good to your bones.

Therefore, to make your Calcium supplement work, look for a combination of highly bioavailable Calcium forms (CCM and Calcium Bisglycinate), absorption boosters like Vitamin D3 and Vitamin K27 and minerals like zinc , phosphorus and magnesium, since these also have a role in strengthening your bone structure.

And if you are wondering, if you will ever find such a Calcium supplement formula, then check out the patent pending formula - Nutrovea TripleCalcium. This may be the ultimate Calcium supplement that you are looking for.

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