Do you need a calcium supplement?

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When you think of osteoporosis, you probably think of it as an elderly women’s disease – something you won’t have to worry about in your twenties.

That’s a common misconception.

A decrease in bone density

During your twenties, your bone mass reaches its peak. After this, your body will not replace the bone at the same rate it loses it, causing a decrease in bone density. Osteoporosis results in even lower levels of bone mass, causing porous holes to develop within the bone. Once bone mass has decreased below a certain level, a diagnosis of osteoporosiscan be made.

Because of this, preserving maximum bone mass can assist in delaying or even preventing the onset of osteoporosis. Today’s lifestyle places us at a higher risk of poor bone mass than before. Unhealthy diets, a lack of exercise, too little sun exposure, eating disorders, smoking and alcohol consumption are all factors that affect your bone health.

A calcium supplement can help your body build healthy bone, especially if you're not getting enough calcium from your diet. This is particularly important for young women in their teens and twenties, as women already have lower bone mass than men to begin with.

What to remember when taking a supplement:

  • It's important to buy quality supplements to ensure real value and health benefits.
  • Vitamin D enhances calcium absorption and is consumed in the diet and produced in the skin under the influence of sunlight. Look for calcium supplements that contain Vitamin D.
  • Calcium supplements are best absorbed if taken in small amounts throughout the day and with meals.  Avoid taking more than 500mg at one time.
  • Avoid taking calcium together with foods known to reduce its absorption (e.g. fibre, oxalates, phytates, bulk-forming laxatives).
  • Calcium supplementation is safe and generally free of side-effects. Constipation can occur – increase your water and fibre intake to avoid this.
  • Avoid taking more than 2 000mg of calcium per day, especially if your supplement contains Vitamin D as an excess has been linked to kidney stones.

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