As well as giving you shape and structure, your bones are the bank where most of your body’s calcium is stored. A massive 99 per cent of your body’s calcium is found in bones and teeth; the remainder stays in the blood and in the cells. This major mineral is not just needed for bone health – it is also vital for many body processes such as muscle contraction and energy release.
Despite its hard exterior, bone isn’t inert. It is constantly being broken down and built up. Part of the reason for this is because your body tries to keep calcium in the blood to within very narrow concentrations. If blood levels fall short, calcium is taken from your bones. And, making too many calcium withdrawals from your bone bank whilst not storing enough of it means that bones will become weaker. So, getting enough calcium is critical for bone strength – it combines and works with other minerals to form the hard crystals that make your bones and teeth.
Calcium – ages, stages and needs
Looking after your bones is important whatever your age. Up to your late teens/early twenties, your skeleton builds up to its greatest possible density. Getting enough calcium during this developmental time helps to build bones that are as strong and as healthy as they can be. It reduces the risk of osteoporosis (porous bones which are more prone to breakage) in the future. USANA-based research has shown that building bone mass by just five per cent can reduce the risk of osteoporosis later on by a massive 40 per cent. Not getting enough calcium in the adult years raises your risk for osteoporosis.
After the age of 30 or so, your body naturally starts to lose bone mass as calcium moves out of the bones. And, during pregnancy, calcium is taken from the mother’s skeleton to build a whole new bone system and teeth for the growing baby (however, calcium absorption from food is much more effective during pregnancy). After menopause, women are especially at risk of bone fractures. Hormonal changes affect bone strength plus women tend to have a smaller skeleton and less calcium compared with men to begin with. About half of all women over the age of 60 years will have at least one fracture due to osteoporosis. But osteoporosis affects men, too – 23 per cent of men have the condition.
Are you getting enough?
Your calcium needs vary according to gender, age, health, diet and lifestyle. Teenagers, women over 50 and men over 70 need the most calcium. It gets more difficult for you to absorb calcium with age and more may be lost through urine, so ensuring that you get enough is all the more vital for preventing bone problems. Generally speaking, most adults need at least 1000mg – 1300mg calcium from food and/or supplements daily. Getting enough calcium (and vitamin D) is very important for women in the first few years after menopause as this is the time when bone mass is lost most rapidly.
Factors that decrease your body’s calcium absorption include:
- Low levels of vitamin D – a staggering one in three adults is low on the so called sunshine vitamin.
- Medicines e.g. corticosteroids.
- Certain conditions e.g. coeliac disease and kidney disease. Too much caffeine and alcohol – which can interfere with the way your body retains calcium. Diet – one that is rich in phytates (bran and unleavened bread) and oxalate (spinach and rhubarb) reduces your body’s ability to absorb calcium.
According to the Australian Nutrition Survey, about 90 per cent of women and 70 per cent of children don’t consume the recommended dietary intake (RDI) for calcium. Opting for high calcium foods plus calcium-containing foods can help. Dairy products (such as milk, yoghurt, cheese and cottage cheese) are calcium-rich. But choose low-fat and fat-free dairy options where you can to avoid the saturated fat that comes with full-fat. Aim for three to five servings of dairy or calciumfortified foods each day. One serving of yoghurt or milk or 40g cheese provides around 300mg calcium each.
What about calcium supplements?
Although calcium supplements can’t replace a healthy diet and won’t counteract bad habits like smoking, drinking too much alcohol and not exercising, taking a high quality supplement like USANA’s Active Calcium Plus™ can help to bridge the nutritional gap.
But conflicting media reports mean that lots of people are confused about whether to take a supplement or not.
The results can be difficult to understand but it’s important to look at the whole picture. So, for example, none of the studies that linked an increased risk of heart problems with taking calcium supplements were specifically designed to look at the effects of calcium supplements on heart attack or stroke risk. And, because of this, unanticipated abnormalities in research findings followed.
On the other hand, a large study published online in Osteoporosis International, showed that among 36,282 postmenopausal women, those taking a 1000 milligram supplement of calcium and 400 IU of vitamin D were 35 per cent less likely to have a hip fracture. Plus, no increases in heart attack were seen during a seven-year follow-up.
And more expert advice
The experts at Osteoporosis Australia agree saying: ‘Calcium supplementation, especially when it is combined with vitamin D, not only reduces the rate of bone loss and fracture in people who don’t get enough calcium through their diet, but improves the effectiveness of osteoporosis medicines in people who have osteoporosis.’
And that’s fact!
Active Calcium Plus is a carefully formulated, clinically-proven bone-building formula. It contains important cofactors needed for bone health as well as calcium. These vitamins and minerals complement each other for the best absorption and effectiveness.
These nutrients are:
CALCIUM – two kinds of calcium (calcium carbonate and calcium citrate) which are easy-to-absorb to give you the best delivery of essential calcium in the smallest possible tablet.
VITAMIN D – partners with calcium to help your body absorb it in the small intestine and to make bone. We all need vitamin D from infancy into old age. The majority is produced in the skin when sunlight reacts with the skin; only around 10 per cent comes via the diet. Despite our sunny climate, most people in Australia and New Zealand don’t get enough vitamin D – research by Deakin University has shown that around one in three adults is deficient in the vitamin while nearly three quarters (73 per cent) have vitamin D levels considered to be below the optimal for musculoskeletal health.
Children need vitamin D to build strong bones and prevent rickets which causes bow legs, knock knees and weak bones, and to prevent fractures and brittle bones.
Vitamin D also regulates your body’s use of phosphorus, another mineral that’s important for strong bones. You don’t need extra phosphorus – you’ll get plenty from a healthy diet. But getting too much phosphorus compared to the amount of calcium could contribute to bone loss. This can happen if you drink a lot of cola and/or rely on fast foods and convenience foods. The bottom line? Not getting enough vitamin D means that bones become thin, brittle and/or misshapen.
MAGNESIUM – this mineral helps to slow down bone turnover thus reducing loss of bone density. It reduces the breakdown of bone (whilst excess phosphorus speeds it up). Magnesium is also vital to help calcium be absorbed into the bones instead of collecting in soft tissue where it can cause health problems.
VITAMIN K – this fat-soluble vitamin activates the proteins that help to prevent vascular calcification and helps to recycle calcium. It helps to support bone strength. Vitamin K influences the level of bone-building osteocalcin in the boneforming cells. Low intakes of vitamin K may increase the risk of hip fractures in women.
A clinical study led by Dr David Greene at Australian Catholic University (ACU National) found that use of USANA’s Active Calcium Chewable™ improves bone health in young girls.
After six months of supplementation, Active Calcium Chewable improved bone mineral content, bone mineral density and bone strength.
Active Calcium Plus™ carries USANA’s Potency Guarantee, so you know the product is pure, and effective. So, to boost your bone health, give Active Calcium Plus a try!
USANA Active Calcium Plus (112 tablets/bottle)
USANA Active Calcium Plus™ is:
- Laboratory tested, quality guaranteed. Meets British Pharmacopoeia specifications for potency, uniformity, and disintegration where applicable.
- Suitable for vegetarians.
- Kosher certified.
Using USANA Active Calcium Plus™
Take four Active Calcium Plus tablets daily, preferably with meals.
Purchase USANA Active Calcium Plus™ from USANA Australia Authorized website.