If you take a daily calcium supplement to support bone health, the type of calcium you’re taking could make a big difference. The most common form of supplement, by far (of all types), is calcium carbonate. It’s also the cheapest. What’s more, it also has the most elemental calcium (40 per cent of the total molecule). Seems like that might pretty much settle the selection issue, right?
Unfortunately, there are two problems with the carbonate form:
1) Like the other inorganic forms, it’s the most poorly absorbed (only 5-10 per cent ); and
2) Unlike the other inorganic forms, calcium carbonate requires (and binds) the most acid.
The latter problem above is appealing if you’re trying to sell an antacid product ‘that’s also good for your bones,’ but it’s very much a double-edged sword. More acid is now required for the digestion of proteins, or else malabsorption (and indigestion!) can occur. Since you take the antacid for indigestion, you can see where this is headed.’
Get to the good stuff
The obvious answer to the absorbency problem with the inorganic forms is to choose one of the organic forms where absorption can run anywhere from 25 per cent to as high as 95 per cent. But again, the details complicate the matter.
The best absorbed of the commercially available types are calcium orotate (90 to 95 per cent absorbed), closely followed by calcium aspartate (85 per cent absorbed). However, these are not only the most expensive, but they’re also the hardest to find. That means they may not be an option for many people.
One obvious way to support the effectiveness of calcium supplements is to make sure you include plenty of calcium-rich foods in your diet, such as cabbage, kale, yellow, green, or waxed beans, and salmon. Foods that are high in magnesium include leafy green vegetables, whole grains, bananas, apricots, meat, beans, and nuts.
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