5 Calcium Supplement Myths Exposed! Get the Truth. Change Your Bone Health.
by Lara Pizzorno, MDiv. MA, LMT, Author of best selling book, “Your Bones”.
My mother died within a year of breaking her hip due to osteoporosis. My grandmother and aunt also broke their hips, suffered tremendously, and died earlier than they should have because of osteoporosis – so when I was diagnosed with osteopenia in my mid-40s, well before menopause, I decided to learn all I could so I would not also die early from osteoporosis.
After researching the many real causes of osteoporosis, I found many popular myths had been turned upside down by recent science, and I learned how to reverse my bone loss. Today, I have normal bone density … without medications.
Do you have osteopenia or osteoporosis? If so, your doctor may have given you outdated calcium supplement information.
Science has been making great leaps with dozens of new bone health studies published each week. Right now Pubmed (an online directory of medical research & studies) shows 5,525 studies under a search for “calcium supplements”. Busy physicians simply can’t keep up. Even specialists admit their recommendations often lag years behind the science.
So, congratulations on taking charge of your own bone health – and educating yourself!
Here are the biggest myths surrounding calcium supplements. Several are life changing when it comes to your bone health. So, let’s see how up to date you are:
Myth #1. Calcium Absorption Rate is Important
Supplement companies each try to best one another with calcium absorption claims. Even some doctors recommend calcium citrate because it is “better absorbed”. The truth is that ALL calcium forms are equally well absorbed if taken with a meal.
All calcium, whether it is from kale, dairy products, calcium carbonate tablets or calcium citrate capsules is absorbed at between 25 and 33%. And the rest passes out in feces and urine. There is no 95% absorbed calcium. And there is no 5% absorbed calcium either … if you read the latest studies by the top researchers.
Calcium citrate is better absorbed when taken without food, but why would anyone do that? Taking supplements on an empty stomach can give you an upset stomach, and nutrients always work as part of a team. For example, vitamin D boosts our ability to absorb calcium, and vitamin K2 activates the two proteins that put calcium into our bones (a vitamin K2-dependent protein called osteocalcin) and keep it out of our arteries (a vitamin K2-dependent protein called matrix Gla protein). Calcium citrate costs more, and because there is less calcium per pill with citrate, you need to swallow extra pills.
But don’t make the mistake of concluding that all forms of calcium are created equally just because their rate of absorption is similar. Some forms are far superior to others in spite of having similar absorption – but that is covered in Myth # 5.
Myth #2. Calcium is Poorly Absorbed by Humans
Humans absolutely depend on our ability to absorb calcium because it plays essential roles in all of our tissues.
Our heart doesn’t beat without calcium. Muscles can’t contract. Brains won’t function; skeletons fail; endocrine functions go awry, and more.
So how could humans have existed for the past 200,000 years if we were unable to absorb calcium sufficiently? Calcium marketers have drilled home the idea that, in spite of humans’ critical needs for calcium, our bodies are ill prepared to extract the calcium we need…unless we swallow their chemically altered citrate, gluconate, lactate, or hydroxyapatite form.
The truth is nature has it all figured out.
You see, even unabsorbed calcium is really important for our health. As mentioned in the first myth, about one quarter of the calcium you ingest is actually absorbed (with the help of vitamin D), through the intestinal wall into the bloodstream where it can be distributed (with the help of vitamin K2) to bones, and throughout the body because all our tissues require calcium.
But what happens to the other three-quarters?
The unabsorbed calcium bonds with toxins, neutralizing them and carrying them out through feces. Recent studies show unabsorbed calcium plays a role in reducing colon cancer, prostate cancer and more by this mechanism.
So, are you still looking for that “95% absorbed” mythical calcium supplement? Didn’t think so. The unabsorbed part plays a very important role in our health.
Myth #3. Traditional Calcium Supplements Are Edible
What? Are we telling you that most calcium supplements are not actually a food?
Almost all calcium supplements are made from rocks. Marble and limestone are the most common sources.
You are making a salad on a marble countertop. Chopping your favorite veggies…when you suddenly get the irresistible urge to hack the corner off the countertop, and throw it into your food processor, so you can add calcium to your salad.
Tempting? Not a chance!
Yet $1.2 billion of rock calcium supplements are consumed every year in America.
Perhaps you are one of the people swallowing these pills? It’s really not your fault. The calcium brands don’t exactly advertize the source of their calcium, but if it says calcium carbonate or calcium citrate on your label, read that as “rock.”
There is only one calcium type on the market that is sourced from sea algae – whole living plants instead of rock. That one is discussed toward the end of this blog post.
Myth #4. Calcium Supplements Make Your Bones Stronger
Calcium along with vitamin D is supposed to build strong bones right? Not if you’re over 40, it doesn’t. You see, at about age 40, we start losing at least 1% of our bone density every year – an amount that increases to at least 2% during the transition through menopause. So, the longer we live, the more bone we lose.
Calcium plus D or Cal/Mag plus D supplements only slow that annual bone loss a little bit. Instead of losing 1%, you might lose half a percent, but the key point here is you are still losing bone. Calcium supplements do help a little because they slow the annual rate of bone loss delaying osteoporosis.
Fortunately, you can do a lot better. Read Myth #5 and learn how.
Myth #5. All Calcium Supplements Have the Same Results
According to a PBS television show, a new form of calcium derived from a calcium-rich type of marine algae, algas calcareas, may increase bone density and reverse osteoporosis…even in 80 year old women.
Other authorities are buzzing about it, too. Celebrity MD and Author, Dr. Nick Perricone included a chapter about the miracle of marine algae for bone health in his book,Forever Young.
Dr. Oz ran a segment on his famous show saying he “adores algaecal.”
And I have to say, on a personal note, that I credit this algae, in large part, for reversing my own bone loss and building so much new bone that my osteopenia is now gone, and my bone density is in the completely normal, healthy range.
Osteoporosis results in broken bones for one in two women over age 50! According to US Surgeon General, Richard Carmona’s special report, bone fractures will reach “epidemic” proportions by 2020.
“The last thing older women and men need is to live in fear that normal activities will result in a fracture,” says Dean Neuls, discoverer of the new algae calcium osteoporosis treatment. “Spine fractures cause curvature and loss of height – and hip fractures result in long hospital stays with a 20% chance of death and long-term nursing home care for over 50% of those who survive. For virtually everyone who suffers an osteoporotic hip fracture, life never returns to “normal.”
This is something you definitely want to prevent, and fortunately you can.
80 Year Old Women With 20 Year Old Bones?
The marine algae species algas calcareas gives new hope.
Recently published studies in peer-reviewed, highly respected medical journals — the Nutrition Journal and the International Journal of Medical Sciences — show statistically significant increases in bone density of 3 to 4% – and the participants grew this new bone mass in just six months.
A 7 year follow up study completed in 2015 shows that even 80 year old adults continued to increase bone year after year at almost 1% annually – unheard of in the world of calcium supplementation where slowing annual bone loss has, until now, been the best possible result.
Why? Because this new algae-derived calcium is actually composed of much more than just calcium. The whole algae ball is milled into powder – making it a whole food – not just an excellent source of calcium.
In fact, Brazilian algas calcareas contains all the same minerals found in human bone – and in similar proportion. In other words lots of calcium, substantial magnesium and smaller amounts of boron, zinc, vanadium, molybdenum, strontium and other bone supporting minerals.
Commercial Availability of Marine Algae Calcium
This plant calcium has finally been made into a supplement – and it’s now available under the trade name AlgaeCal Plus. It’s not sold in stores just yet. But AlgaeCal Plus is available online in limited quantities.
The Brazilian government, where this algae grows, regulates the harvest for sustainability, so product has been back ordered twice in 2014 and once in 2015, so far.
AlgaeCal, Inc. reports that currently there is a small inventory available here, but with the caveat that they could run out before months end.
Health Canada Grants Special Permission
Health Canada, the governing health authority for Canada, is widely regarded as one of the most strict in the world. Their research team spent 8 months reviewing the clinical science supporting AlgaeCal.
AlgaeCal was awarded a special health claim that no other calcium is allowed to make: “may increase bone density in women.” Traditional calcium carbonate and citrate products can only legally claim to slow bone loss, not increase it.
Would you like to learn more about AlgaeCal?