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  • The Best and Worst Forms of Calcium Supplements

    You may have heard that there are different types of calcium that are used in bone health supplements. Marketers have come up with all sorts of ways to package calcium in bone health supplements, but focusing on calcium misses the fact that other nutrients are also important. Also, these claims sometimes hide the fact that only calcium and vitamin D are included– when we know full well that good bone health requires a range of vitamins and minerals. Magnesium, boron, vitamin K2, and silicon, to name a few, address other aspects of bone health beyond bone hardness. And in the right balance they can actually improve calcium.

    So does the type of calcium make a difference?

    A lot of the differences in calcium type are sales gimmicks.  "Designer calcium" as it is sometimes called likes to focus on the source of the calcium, but the type that is most commonly used in all supplements is calcium carbonate. Healthy people should have no difficulty absorbing calcium carbonate with meals, and vitamin D improves the absorption of calcium. Calcium carbonate is found naturally and abundantly in the Earth’s crust and is widely recommended because it is the most efficient, effective, and cost saving form of calcium. That’s why Silical® 1 contains 500 mg of calcium carbonate to complete your daily calcium needs safely and effectively.

    designer calcium

    Oyster Shell Calcium and Coral Calcium

    The calcium in oyster shells and coral is actually calcium carbonate but it sounds fancy. These and other natural marine sources may contain lead or other contaminants, and they are usually more expensive than pure calcium carbonate. The President of ConsumerLab.com, - an independent testing agency – said, "Coral calcium is not inherently better or worse than other types of calcium, but it is sadly ironic that the most advertised brand also had the most lead." http://newhope360.com/managing-your-business/ftc-fda-crack-down-coral-calcium-claims

    Hydroxyapatite and Bone Meal

    Hydroxyapatite is the chief structural element of bone and accounts for approximately half of the weight of bone. Bone meal is whole bone that’s ground into a fine powder, but impure bone meal carries the risk of Mad Cow Disease and contamination from lead and other impurities. These products are based on the assumption that eating dead bone will create new bone – which is wrong. However, the main value is in the calcium itself rather than the bone structure. If bones were a good source of nutrition, then one would expect them to be consumed in the wild instead of lying out in the open for years and years before gradually deteriorating.

    A social objection to Hydroxyapatite is that it is generally made from bones of young calves – veal. Although processing generally removes impurities, the Humane Society of the United States has been critical of veal producers because calves are often raised in small crates until they are old enough to be slaughtered.

    Marine algae calcium

    Marine algae is a form of seaweed that is rich in calcium. Consumers may like the idea of eating calcium from seaweed (lots of people enjoy it in their diet, so it must be natural, right?) - but the type of marine algae that’s used for calcium supplements is algae calcareous. This type of calcareous marine algae produces a calcium carbonate shell that remains as part of a coral reef after the algae is dead. The skeleton is rich in calcium and other minerals from the ocean, and that often includes lead or other contaminants. Before consuming marine algae as a dietary supplement, you should find out whether lead is in the product or not.

    Chemical Forms of Calcium:

    Calcium carbonate. As noted above, calcium carbonate is found naturally and abundantly in the Earth’s crust and is widely recommended because it is the most efficient, effective, and cost saving form of calcium. Healthy people should have no difficulty absorbing calcium carbonate with meals or on an empty stomach. Calcium carbonate is also an alkaline form of calcium.

    Calcium citrateis an acidic form of calcium and is recommended for people who have had stomach bypass surgery. Calcium citrate may be better for people who are taking medicines for heartburn if they insist on taking their calcium on an empty stomach. For people taking heartburn medicines, the absorption of calcium citrate and calcium carbonate is similar when taken with meals. One downside of calcium citrate is that it has less elemental calcium concentration.  This means more pills are needed to provide the same amount of calcium compared to calcium carbonate.

    Calcium gluconate is another form of low concentration calcium that is absorbed easily. However, you would need to take very large amounts of the supplement to reach your recommended daily allowance.

    Calcium lactate is a form found in foods like aged cheese. This form is also applied to food to extend its shelf-life. It is sometimes used as an antacid, although calcium carbonate is found in popular over-the-counter antacids like Tums and Rolaids (because of the carbonate particle, and not the calcium).  Calcium lactate has similar absorption as calcium carbonate,but is more expensive.

    Calcium citrate malateis a water-soluble calcium salt, with purported high bioavailability that was patented in the 1980s.  Most calcium enriched juices and foods use calcium citrate malate – which may lend itself to supplements with further research.

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