- Aging & Longevity
Osteoporosis: Does Calcium Help?
The answer is yes, calcium does help osteoporosis. Calcium is the most important thing that you can add to your diet to prevent and treat osteoporosis. This should come as no surprise since calcium is naturally used to build our bones. However, many people do not know how much calcium they should consume every day. The answer to that is, it depends. As a person gets older, the body starts to limit the amount of bone formation. This starts at the young age of 30. However, postmenopausal women are at the greatest risk for osteoporosis and their daily calcium intake has to be significantly increased.
Osteoporosis: How Much Calcium?
How much calcium does a person need each day to prevent osteoporosis? I’m going to focus on women since they are at higher risk, but men also need to take this disease seriously too. A premenopausal woman needs a calcium intake of 1000 mg per day. This amount is also recommended for postmenopausal women who are on estrogen therapy. Postmenopausal women not on estrogen therapy need to increase their daily calcium intake to 1500 mg per day. That’s a huge jump and many people simply can’t eat enough foods with calcium or drink enough milk to get that amount of calcium daily. There are other issues to consider also. There can be health issues and risk with increasing your calcium intake. Those who have a previously had kidney stones, have hypercalcemia, or hypophospatemia do not need to take this choice of therapy. Therefore, it is best to speak with your doctor to make a plan.
Now that we have determined that calcium does help with osteoporosis and you have visited your doctor, you probably have a plan. I’m willing to bet that your physician has told you to take a supplement if you are not able to increase you intake from your diet alone. Now there are some things that you need to know about calcium and your body. The body cannot absorb calcium by itself. Vitamin D is needed for the body to absorb both calcium and phosphorus in to the gastrointestinal tract. Now, vitamin D is added to milk and other dairy products, but if you are taking a supplement then that doesn’t help. However there are other foods that you can eat to get vitamin D, but only in small quantities. These foods include saltwater fish such as salmon, organ meats, and even egg yolks. However the most amazing thing is that the body can create its own vitamin D from sunlight. UV rays activate oil in the skin that is converted to vitamin D in the kidneys. So getting sunlight isn’t always a bad thing. Another important thing to consider is that the body can’t absorb every form of calcium. That’s right; some of the calcium supplements that you may find at Wal-mart will not help you at all.
The best advice that can be given is to try to prevent osteoporosis. However, most people who are reading this are probably past the age of 30 and have already peaked with their bone mass. Never the less, that does not mean that this disease can’t be prevented. The sooner you start to take action and change your diet, the less chance you have of developing this crippling disease.