Does calcium create more problems than it solves?

It is important to take a supplement that provides key nutrients for maintaining bone mass. But can too much calcium be a problem? “More than you ever thought possible,” says Dr. Cathy Carlson-Rink Naturopathic Doctor and registered Midwife.

North Americans have the highest rate of pasteurized milk and calcium supplement consumption – yet still have the highest rate of osteoporosis in the world. “This is because too much calcium can deplete magnesium, zinc and iron, setting the stage for osteoporosis and fragile bones,” says Dr. Cathy Carlson-Rink.

When choosing a calcium supplement it is important to consider several key factors:

Higher Magnesium to Calcium Ratio- High doses of calcium can cause magnesium deficiency. Without adequate magnesium, calcium cannot be properly utilized and becomes a pollutant rather than a nutrient. A higher ratio of magnesium makes it possible to utilize both supplemented and dietary calcium in the body.

Liquid Form – Liquid supplements provide enhanced availability, as they do not require breakdown by the digestive tract before the active ingredients can be released and absorbed.

Form of Calcium – Calcium lactate and gluconate, are “ready” to absorb. They are in an ionized and soluble state and their absorption is approximately 45% even with low stomach acid, compared to calcium carbonate at only 4%. Those with low gastric acid (1/3 of people over age 60 and close to 1/2 of postmenopausal women) can absorb these forms of calcium. For those who have adequate acid levels, ionized calcium is still a benefit because it can be taken at any time and will not interfere with absorption since it does not need food to increase stomach acid.

Dose of Calcium – Low doses of calcium allow for absorption of other nutrients which are absolutely essential for the proper utilization of calcium. Large doses of calcium, especially without the presence of adequate magnesium can cause the body to deposit calcium in soft tissue where it causes problems such as kidney stones and arteriosclerosis.

Fruit Juice and Herb Base – The presence of fruit juice has been shown to enhance mineral absorption and retention. It enhances stomach acid and because of certain nutrients, such as calcium and zinc, only absorb together in the presence of food. A formula with added digestive herbs is said to stimulate digestion and reduce the common side effect of bloating.

Harmful Additives – 70% of calcium supplements tested were found to be contaminated with lead. Ensure that heavy metal testing has been completed on your calcium product. A quality supplement will guarantee no pesticide residues, preservatives, or food coloring.

“A liquid supplement that provides lower, absorbable doses of calcium, with a higher ratio of magnesium is safe to take throughout one’s life cycle. Those who have adequate absorption and proper utilization of calcium throughout their life are at the least risk for osteoporosis.” says Dr. Cathy Carlson-Rink. “ The product I recommend most that follows these guidelines is Floradix Calcium Magnesium.”

Floradix Calcium Magnesium is manufactured and distributed by Flora, Inc., a leader in natural health since 1965. Flora products are sold in health food stores throughout North America, or visit Readers wanting more information on bone health may request Dr. Carlson-Rink’s free booklet “Bone Health 101” by calling 1-800-446-2110.

Dr. Cathy Carlson-Rink is the first person in Canada to be licensed both as a Naturopathic Physician and a registered Midwife. She holds a B.S. with distinction in Physical Education from the University of Saskatchewan, and an N.D. (Doctorate in Naturopathic Medicine) with a postgraduate specialization in Midwifery from Bastyr University, one of the 5 schools of naturopathy in North America.

From the April 6-12, 2005, issue

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