Lack of calcium can happen because of low calcium intake, but more often the cause of calcium deficiency is poor utilization or low absorption. Here’s how to fix it:
When I was little, my mom always tried pump me full of calcium supplements. I’ve been allergic to dairy since I was a baby, and of course conventional wisdom was that you’d be in serious trouble for bone formation and general lack of calcium without dairy.
The trouble was, I hated chewable tablets and couldn’t swallow capsules. I remember we resorted to Tums at one point because they were fruit-flavored and had a little tiny bit of calcium in them.
Looking back, I think they probably did more harm than good because I definitely didn’t have heartburn and they would have reduced my digestive system’s ability to absorb the calcium I was getting from my food.
Learn from my mistakes – don’t jump to crappy calcium supplements when you should really be looking at the root cause of calcium deficiency instead.
Low liver function or low stomach acid levels are a really common cause of a lack of calcium. Calcium is a very difficult mineral for our bodies to absorb. Making sure that your stomach is active enough is the first thing to look at in correcting a deficiency.
Taking a digestive enzyme is a great way to help your stomach keep up, although eating smaller meals with simple food combinations is even more helpful. The reason I do nutrition consultations is to help you find the root cause of symptoms, imbalances and nutrient deficiencies.
Interaction with other nutrients
Excess phosphorus (lots in bran, wheat germ, cheese, soybeans, bacon) displaces calcium, and foods with oxalic acid (rhubarb, raw spinach, chocolate) interfere with the absorption of calcium. A lack of vitamin D or magnesium can be an indirect cause of calcium deficiency since they’re necessary for calcium utilization.
Poor quality supplement
There are many poor calcium/magnesium supplements out there in the following forms: carbonate, oxide, gluconate, citrate, and dicalcium phosphate. Citrate is okay, but may give you a headache or make you feel tired.
If your daily calcium/magnesium supplement fits into 1 pill, something is wrong. Quality calcium takes space, especially because you don’t want it compressed down into a dense, non-absorbable tablet.
Calcium should always be accompanied with magnesium and vitamin D for better absorption. My favorite supplements are listed here
The best way to maintain a good calcium intake is through calcium-rich foods: lots of good quality fresh vegetables and fruit, along with a variety of grains, beans, nuts and seeds. If you’re doing that and still have signs of a lack of calcium, take a look at your digestion, the levels of other nutrients that can help or hinder calcium absorption as possibilities for the root cause of calcium deficiency. If you do need to take a supplement, be sure that it’s a really high quality one.
What are your thoughts on calcium? Do you have signs of deficiency? And have you looked at these things as potential causes as opposed to just the number of milligrams you’re pumping? Let me know by leaving a comment below.