When we think of Calcium Magnesium supplements, they are generally thought of in relation to bone health. Calcium is an important mineral, but to build strong bones and healthy teeth it takes more than just calcium to achieve it. Also, dairy products, like cow's milk, are not the only source or even the best source of calcium.
Foods with Calcium
Food sources: Tahini or sesame seed butter, almonds (powerhouse of calcium), salmon and sardines (with bones), soy, navy beans, blackstrap molasses, amaranth, broccoli, and kale.
Almost all leafy greens are high in calcium. Nuts and seeds deliver more calcium than milk, and usually more absorbable because they’re often raw. Sesame seeds offer 2200 mg calcium per cup vs 228 mg of calcium per cup of milk. One tenth of a cup or 1 ½ tablespoons of sesame seeds, would be the same amount of calcium as 1 cup of milk. Another note on milk, it loses 50% of available calcium through pasteurization. Low fat and skim milk offer even less because the milk fat is used for transportation and absorption of calcium.
Is Dietary Calcium Enough?
Calcium deficiency is very possible, even on a nutritious and balanced diet. Especially if you are vegan or dairy-free, eat a high protein or high sodium diet (which can cause excess calcium excretion), or have digestive issues that may decrease your calcium absorption. Taking a regular calcium supplement can help to balance any of these issues and make sure you are reaching your daily recommended intake.
Making Healthy Bones
Main minerals needed for bone building: calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, boron, and manganese, as well as vitamins A, D, C and B12.
The hard part of bones store calcium and phosphorus, the bone marrow in the middle makes red blood cells (RBCs) and immune cells, which are made of fat that is stored for energy. The bones are made of a matrix, which is 25% water, 25 % fiber, and 50% mineral salts. The mineral salts of calcium, magnesium, fluoride, and sulfate are deposited between the protein fibers of collagen, and crystalized into salts, making the bone hard. If bones are too mineralized they will become brittle and easily break.
In order to make good strong bones, we need all of these things in our diet as well as a good amount of physical activity. The stress of muscles and tendons placed on bones from movement is integral to the balance of building bones. The matrix is in a constant state of building and breaking down, and this process is only performed properly when ALL the building blocks and the right conditions are in place.
Foods to Avoid
Just as there are good food sources for calcium, there are also foods to avoid. The following foods either decrease absorption of calcium or increase the excretion of calcium:
- High caffeine coffee, tea, soft drinks, and chocolate
- Sugar is similar to caffeine and decreases the amount of phosphorus in the blood
- High phosphorus intake from meat, grains, and soft drinks can take calcium from bones. Phosphorus and calcium need to be in a certain balance to have a positive effect on bone mineralization.
- Salt also has similar effects to sugar and caffeine
- Low Vitamin D can lead to low levels of calcium
- A high fiber diet, with most fiber coming from wheat, can lead to lowered calcium absorption as fiber binds calcium and is excreted from the body
- Protein in excess depletes calcium substantially. Too much creates an acidic environment requiring alkaline minerals like calcium to re-establish balance. Junk foods, refined foods, and most cooked foods also have this acid forming effect on the body. Protein also acts as a diuretic in the body, causing the kidneys to send calcium and other minerals out in the urine.
Benefits of Magnesium
Magnesium is an essential mineral and is one of the most abundant minerals in the body. Magnesium is absolutely essential for the regulation of hundreds of biochemical reactions. Magnesium is a cofactor in more than 300 enzyme systems that regulate diverse reactions: including protein synthesis, muscle and nerve function, blood glucose control, and blood pressure regulation. Magnesium also contributes to the structural development of bone and is required for the synthesis of DNA, RNA, and the antioxidant glutathione. The average adult body contains approximately 25 g magnesium, with 50% to 60% present in the bones, with most of the rest being present in soft tissues. As previously mentioned, it is integral to bone formation, and including it with calcium allows for better absorption of calcium.
Benefits of Vitamin D
This fat-soluble vitamin is also often called the ‘sunshine vitamin’. Under the right circumstances our skin is able to synthesize Vitamin D from the UV rays from the sun. This can work well during the summer months, but can make it more challenging to get enough Vitamin D in the winter months. Vitamin D is also not naturally present in a lot of our foods, so either consuming fortified foods or taking a supplement is generally a good idea. There are two main forms of Vitamin D: Vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol) and Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol). The active form of vitamin D that the body actually uses more quickly is Vitamin D3.
Why Vitamin D In A Cal Mag Supplement?
- Promotes calcium absorption in the gut
- Maintains appropriate calcium and phosphate levels in the blood
- Normal bone mineralization
- Ensures the muscles contract properly, which is also part of creating strong bones
Who Should Use Cal Mag Supplement?
The typical daily dosage recommendations for these nutrients are:
- Calcium: 1,000 mg — 100% of the Daily Value (DV)
- Magnesium: 400–500 mg — 100–125% of the DV
To reach these amounts, you would need to take 2–3 calcium-magnesium supplements over the course of the day. The variations in dosage owes to the fact that these minerals come in numerous formulations. Calcium-magnesium supplements are mainly available in capsule form, though some companies also sell powdered and liquid versions.
Who Shouldn’t Use Cal Mag Supplement?
Currently, no side effects have been reported from calcium-magnesium supplements. However, moderate to high doses of these individual nutrients are associated with various adverse effects, including:
- nausea and vomiting
- stomach pain and cramps
- loss of appetite
- muscle weakness
- numbness and tingling
If you experience any of these symptoms, consider lowering your dosage or consulting your healthcare provider. Calcium overdoses are linked to kidney stones and a higher risk of heart disease, it’s especially important to stick to the dosage recommendations on the packaging.