as Lara Pizzorno, Bone Health Expert dives in further to this common question. And don’t forget to continue reading for more insight
Too Much Supplemental Rock Calcium
The most common type of calcium and the one that causes the most gastrointestinal discomfort is from rock. That’s right – your supplement is most likely calcium derived from limestone or marble (described on your label as ‘calcium from calcium carbonate
Why do we eat rock calcium (and since the 1930s when it was first introduced)?
Because rocks are cheap, rich in calcium (40%) and capable of slowing bone loss.
See, we naturally lose about 1% of our bone per year
after age 35. For decades, rocky calcium carbonate has cut that in half so we only lost about 0.5% per year. Given no other calcium (from shell, coral or cattle bone) could boast anything more, slowing bone loss with rock calcium was better than not slowing it at all.
But a very uncomfortable side effect of rock calcium carbonate that we’ve tried to accept is constipation, as well other gastrointestinal issues like bloating, gas, and cramps. These gastro issues happen because rock calcium carbonate essentially turns off the production of stomach acids.
This is why rock is used as the main component in antacids like Tums. It works great if you suffer from acid reflux and heartburn – but your digestive system pays the price! If stomach acids aren’t there to churn and break down your food, then it makes sense that constipation, bloating, gas, and cramps will result.
Plus, taking too much calcium
alone at once provides more calcium than the body can absorb, leading to constipation. For this reason, it is recommended to take no more than 500 mg of calcium at a time. After all, calcium is a mineral, and minerals are rocks. So even though it’s an important nutrient your body needs, you’re essentially asking your body to absorb a rock. Be kind and patient with your body by taking amounts that your body can tolerate, absorb and utilize.
Choose a well-absorbed form of calcium in a dosage of 500 mg or less. Calcium is absorbed most efficiently when it’s taken in amounts of 500 mg or less at one time. However, it’s also important to not supplement with calcium alone, which we’ll get into down at point #9.
Too Much Supplemental Iron
are notorious for causing constipation and that is why many people don’t follow through with their supplementation. While there are some forms of iron that are easier to absorb, they tend to come at a higher cost.
Speak with your healthcare provider about supplementation options. If you have clinical iron deficiency anemia, your health care provider can write a prescription for an iron supplement that may be easier to digest and is covered by insurance. Additionally, ask to speak with a nutrition professional about how to get your iron from foods.
Too Much Sugar and Unhealthy Fats
Consuming too much sugar and/or unhealthy fats feeds unhealthy bacteria in your gut and causes inflammation. The unhealthy bacteria start to multiply and this reduces the healthy number of bacteria that keep the digestive tract moving properly. Inflammation can then occur and trigger a whole host of problems in the body. This means the intestinal tract can swell with inflammation, making it difficult for food to move through it.
Reduce or eliminate foods with added sugar and refined carbohydrates. The same goes for unhealthy fats. Avoid fried foods as much as possible, which also tend to contain refined carbohydrates. Also, swap out unhealthy fats for naturally-occurring healthy fats that have a soothing, inflammation-reducing effect. These can be found in plant-based oils, seeds, nuts and fatty fish. AlgaeCal’s Triple Power Omega 3 Fish Oil
is perfect for helping you reduce inflammation and transition over to healthy fats.
Lack of Physical Activity
If you ever undergo a medical procedure or end up in the hospital, one of the first things the medical team will do to get you on the mend is help you go for a walk. That’s because we are designed to be on the move and our digestion depends on it. Walking helps move and jostle the food in the digestive tract, using gravity to help move it along. Yoga, jogging, Pilates, and the like will all have the same benefits. They also help strengthen your muscles, including the intestinal tract, giving you greater ability to move things both inside and outside your body.
Get up and get moving as often as possible. Take a walk after meals and try to take a couple 5-to-10 minute walking breaks during the work day. Prolonged periods of sitting are bad for digestion, mood, and overall health.
Lack of Fiber
Ever eat too many cherries or too much watermelon and find yourself having to make a quick escape to the bathroom? That’s because these fruits are high in flavor and fiber. You get caught up in the delicious flavor, only to find yourself in the bathroom with diarrhea a couple hours later from all the fiber. Take it easy. If you’re not eating a fiber-rich diet, you have the exact opposite problem. Fiber is a key component in the human digestive tract. Fiber binds to water, which softens the stool, making it easier to pass along. Additionally, fiber and the water that it attracts creates “bulk”, which sends a message to the intestinal walls that you’re full and it’s time to get to work passing the food along. In this way, fiber helps with both digestion and weight regulation.
Solution: Slowly increase the amount of fiber you eat each day. Going from next-to-zero grams of fiber to the full recommendation of 20 to 25 grams all at once is going to cause diarrhea. Spread fiber intake out throughout the day to get the benefits without the downside. Strive for 5 grams every meal and snack.
Imbalanced Gut Bacteria
We all get by with a little help from our friends, including the healthy bacteria that make digestion and proper nutrition possible. Healthy bacteria help break down food to extract maximum nutrition and keep it moving along. Certain medications, stress and not eating enough fiber-rich foods can have negative effects on your gastrointestinal bacteria.
Solution: Gut bacteria thrive on foods naturally rich in fiber, such as fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts and whole grains. Consume probiotic (healthy bacteria) foods and beverages such as kefir, yogurt, kimchi, sauerkraut, kombucha and homemade shrubs. Take a probiotic supplement. If you’re currently taking antibiotic medication, take your probiotic supplement at a different time or you’ll cancel the effects of both.
A common side effect of several medications is constipation. Always read the information that comes with your medications to see if constipation is a common side effect. The list of medications that can cause constipation is lengthy, but some of the top offenders are opioids, NSAIDs, antihistamines, antacids, blood pressure medications and diuretics.
Solution: Follow your healthcare provider’s instructions relating to your medications, but reach out to get more information and solutions regarding constipation. Discuss the duration you’re expected to be on the medication and ask if there are easier-to-digest alternatives. Eat a healthy, fiber-rich diet full of fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts, legumes and whole grains. Additionally, exercise regularly, drink plenty of water and get plenty of sleep.
Lack of Water
Water has been mentioned frequently throughout this article and that’s because it’s vital for healthy digestion. Dehydration wreaks havoc on the human body, including the digestive tract. When you’re dehydrated, your body will conserve as much water as possible for cerebral fluid, blood volume, and respiration.
Solution: Drink 8 to 10 glasses of water every day. All fluids count in fluid consumption, but not all beverages are created equal. Avoid sugary drinks and/or those with toxic food additives. Limit caffeine consumption to 2 to 3 cups of caffeinated beverages a day or under the 400 mg mark.
Lack of Magnesium
Magnesium is needed to relax muscles, including those of the gastrointestinal tract. Magnesium is also an electrolyte that affects water balance. Low magnesium intake causes a host of health problems, including constipation. It is also needed to properly absorb and utilize calcium. It is estimated that 80% of Americans are deficient in magnesium.
Solution: Makes sure to eat a variety of magnesium-rich foods such as dark leafy green vegetables, seeds, nuts and beans throughout the day, every day. Keep in mind that calcium and magnesium work together. The proper ratio is 2:1 (2 parts calcium to every part magnesium) so make sure you find a calcium supplement with the same ratio. AlgaeCal Plus naturally contains this 2:1 “golden ratio”.
While all of the above solutions can help ease constipation issues, you’ll still have problems if you take a calcium supplement with calcium alone or with added vitamin D. Consider switching supplementing with a higher quality calcium. Not doing so puts you at risk for constipation and other health-related issues. It’s not worth it to save money by taking what you have on hand.
As you’ve now learned, magnesium is a natural laxative- which will balance the constipating effects of calcium- and also has bone-building properties. Make sure your calcium supplement contains magnesium to prevent constipation, provide bone health benefits, as well as maintain water balance.
Instead of masking the problems from your current calcium supplement, try a natural, plant-based calcium supplement providing you with all the nutrients your bones need. Plus, you won’t have side-effects like constipation, gas or bloating!
AlgaeCal Plus is the only calcium supplement proven to increase bone density in 6 months— at any age! It’s the plant-based solution, meaning it’s more body-friendly, plus it’s more effective at a lower dose than your typical calcium supplement.