Everyone has access to supplements, and in these busy times, people often feel it’s easier to grab something on the run and take a supplement than to eat nutritiously. If you’re one of the eat-on-the-run people, you might want to reconsider how you eat and note there are calcium studies that show calcium-rich foods are much better than supplements.
Researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Missouri, studied the effects of women who acquired at last 70 percent of their calcium from natural and fortified foods against women who relied primarily on calcium supplements for their calcium intake. Researchers noted those who acquired calcium from food sources had higher bone density than those women who relied on calcium supplements. Researchers also noted calcium-eating participants demonstrated significant higher levels of active estrogen metabolites, which may account for the improved bone density.
Another calcium supplementation study, conducted over seven years and published in 2006, found “no broad benefit from calcium and vitamin D supplements in preventing broken bones, despite widespread endorsement by doctors for the supplements.” The study was large and included 36,282 normal, healthy women ages 50 to 79, and although the study’s conclusion did not support women taking supplements, it seems most doctors still recommend them.
So, what does all this mean. The bottom line comes down to this: If you have to grab a quick meal, grab something that includes calcium, such as low-fat dairy products—yogurt, cheese, or cottage cheese—or calcium-fortified beverages, such as orange juice or soy milk. Dark green leafy vegetables—kale, watercress, and bok choy—are also calcium-rich. Eating calcium foods will do your body more good than supplements. However, if you’re falling short on calcium or if you have osteoporosis or osteopenia, you should still take calcium supplements, particularly if your health care practitioner told you to take them.
If you want to learn more about foods that contain calcium, read Calcium-Rich Foods. If you’re interested in the calcium content of herbs and spices, read Calcium Content in Herbs and Spices, and if you’re interested in nutrients that can help prevent osteoporosis, read Osteoporosis and Osteopenia: Nutrients For Strong Bones. If you want to know about other calcium-rich foods that can aid against osteoporosis, read Osteoporosis Health. There is also controversy over soy, if you’re interested in why, you can read, Soy, Is it Really Good For You?