Calcium conundrum: which supplement should I choose?

Posted by on Sep 18, 2009 in bone health | 0 comments

X-ray illustration of female human body and skeleton

Calcium supplements come in many forms including calcium citrate,  calcium carbonate and calcium gluconate.  Experts have long said that when it comes to selecting a calcium supplement, type is less important than the amount of calcium that is available for absorption by the body. This can be determined by looking at % of the recommended daily amount that is available in each dose. Currently, the National Osteoporosis Foundation recommends that women between the ages of 19 and 49 ingest 1,000 mg daily and over age 50, 1,200 mg daily.

Hence, I was intrigued when I ran across a newly published review in the September/October issue of Menopause that shows a significant advantage with a form of calcium I had not heard of before: ossein-hydroxyapatite complex (OHC), which is the mineral component of bones and teeth.

Conducting an extensive review of six clinical trials that compared OHC to calcium carbonate in 614 postmenopausal women, the researchers found that OHC was statistically superior to calcium carbonate in terms of preventing bone loss and increasing bone mineral density (BMD). Importantly, use of vitamin D did not affect the results nor did further statistical analyses.

OHC is available in microcrystalline form and often goes by the name MCHA or MCHC. This helps insure adequate absorption by the body. I’ve seen it available online and its price structure is similar to other standardized supplement formulations.

After menopause, women can experience as much as a 30% loss of bone, thereby increasing the risk for osteoporosis. I am heartened by this research and by the fact that we now have another tool in our kit to keep our bones strong and healthy. Prevention is key!

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