Increase Calcium Absorption
Consumers need to be aware that there are other factors that
affect calcium absorption, and the effectiveness of
calcium, irrespective of the type of supplement they
Vitamin D is very important in allowing the body to
absorb calcium from the intestines. It does this through its'
effect on the proteins required to transport the calcium across
the membrane of the intestines and into the blood stream.
Vitamin D also helps maintain the optimal balance of calcium
and phosphorus in the bone mineralization process.
Vitamin C also helps with calcium supplement absorption. You
can often find calcium supplements with vitamin C added.
Magnesium contributes to the bone matrix, like calcium. It
also works with calcium in regulating heart and muscle
contraction, and other functions involving the blood, nerves,
and muscles. Thus, it's important to make sure you're getting
enough magnesium in your diet for your calcium supplements to
be truly effective. A good ratio to aim for is 2:1, although
you should watch the tolerable upper limits for magnesium if
you're taking more than 1000mg of calcium a day. You may exceed
the recommended amount of magnesium if you follow the 2:1 ratio
in this instance.
Lactose, found in dairy products, helps with the calcium
absorption in the intestines in infants, although there is no
evidence it really helps adults absorb more calcium.
Diet plays a variable role in calcium supplement absorption.
Often, it's a case of getting the right balance of a food. For
example, fat and protein in our diets help the absorption of
calcium, but only if these are not eaten in excess. A diet that
is high in fact or protein will actually reduce overall calcium
absorption. With protein, this is done by increasing the rate
at which calcium is excreted in the intestines.
Protein is still an important factor in calcium
absorption, particularly the amino acids lysine and glycine.
You'll often see calcium supplements in a chelated form (not
necessarily with those two amino acids. Chelated supplements
are where they are bound to amino acids which help transport
the mineral into our bloodstream so the body can use it.
Foods That Inhibit Calcium
There are some foods you should really watch eating when you
take a calcium supplement. Giving your body a two hour window
between taking the supplement and eating them is a good rule of
Foods to watch out for include those high in oxalic acid,
such as spinach, rhubarb, chard, chocolate, cocoa, star fruit,
parsley, poppy seeds, amaranth, beets, most nuts and berries,
Tea leaves are also high in oxalic acid, though fortunately
for tea drinkers, the beverage itself doesn't have much in
it because not a lot of tea leaves are used in the
Phytic acid is another plant chemical that inhibits calcium
absorption. Phytic acid is found in the hulls of grains, seeds,
and nuts. It is the main way that plants store the mineral
There are ways that foods rich in phytic acid can have the
levels reduced when we cook and prepare food. Cooking itself
reduces phytic acid, as does soaking the foods in an acidic
medium such as lemon juice, or fermenting or sprouting
As an example, bread, made from grains, is actually fine
because when yeast is added to leaven the dough, enzymes, break
down the phytic acid. It's important to note that phytates are not actually bad, they just
inhibit the absorption of calcium. It's a question of
If you're a moderate coffee drinker, and you get enough
calcium in your diet, then caffeine has very little effect on
calcium absorption. Whilst it does reduce absorption a
little bit, if you have a tablespoon or two of milk, that
offsets any loss.
This is one factor that really shows it pays to research
things well on the internet! Many seemingly good sources
indicated that having a low stomach acidity was a problem in
efficient calcium absorbtion. Yet when I looked further, I
found a couple of interesting pages that showed that this was
One discussed the results of studies into
the effect of taking calcium when the subjects had taken a
stomach acid blocker. They found there was absolutely no
effect, and this was true whether the calcium came from milk
or supplements. There was even a person who had a medical
condition where they had no stomach acid, and they were also
still able to absorb calcium.
There is quite an interesting discussion there, so if you're
concerned about stomach acidity and calcium absorption, I
recommend reading it.
There is another study here. Of course, these
studies were measuring results within the short term. I
don't know of any studies done over the long term, although
they may exist.
The Amount Of Calcium Taken At
Our bodies can only absorb a certain amount of calcium at a
time. If you're taking a supplement, divide your calcium
supplement into doses of around 500mg.
Some medications can reduce the calcium absorption. These
include the tetracycline antibiotics, antacids with aluminum in
them, diuretics,, and some others.
We are at our most efficient at calcium absorption when
we are younger. As babies and children,. we absorb 50% to 70%
of the calcium we take into our bodies. Yet by the time we are
adults, this has dropped to 30% to 50%. That's why it's so
important we improve our calcium absorption.