Over 43 million people in the US have low bone mass, putting them at risk for osteoporosis—a disease of low bone strength, bone mass, and a high risk of fractures. This risk increases with age, making older adults at the highest risk for osteoporosis and broken bones.
These high numbers might have you wondering how to keep your bones young, strong, and healthy. A healthy diet that includes plenty of whole foods and regular exercise is key to keeping your bones from aging, but a calcium supplement could add the extra protection you need.
Your body stores 99% of its calcium in your bones. This mineral helps make your bones strong and hard, and without enough of it, your risk of bone loss and fractures increases. After age 30, your bones slowly start to lose calcium, leading to lower bone mineral density as you age. This is especially true for postmenopausal women, as the sharp decrease in estrogen levels encourages bone loss.
The RDA for calcium for adults is 1,000 milligrams per day and increases to 1,200 milligrams daily in post-menopausal women and adults over 70. Foods high in calcium include milk and dairy products, tofu, soy milk, salmon, spinach, and fortified cereals and juices. If you cannot get enough calcium from food, you may need a supplement.
Several studies have found that taking calcium supplements can reduce bone turnover by 20% in postmenopausal women, per an article in the Journal of Bone Metabolism.
Without enough vitamin D, your body is unable to absorb calcium. Spending time in sunlight helps your body make its own vitamin D, and you can also get this fat-soluble vitamin from foods like salmon, tuna, UV-treated mushrooms, or fortified foods. Check out the Best 45 Recipes for an Instant Vitamin D Boost.
While calcium is essential for bone health, not everyone should take a calcium supplement. If you’re not deficient in this nutrient, excess calcium can lead to kidney stones, increased calcification of blood vessels, and stomach pains.
If you’re looking for an effective calcium supplement, I recommend Bayer Citracal Petites. This calcium supplement is Consumer Lab-approved, has 400 milligrams of calcium citrate, and includes 12.5 micrograms of vitamin D3 to help your body absorb and use the calcium.
If you’re unsure if calcium is the right supplement for you, speak with your doctor before adding any new supplement or medication to your routine.
Kelsey Lorencz, RDN