As people age, they are usually less able to absorb calcium and that can be part of the reason why a person develops osteoporosis. If you have or want to avoid osteoporosis, there are several other factors that increase or decrease calcium absorption. These are
- Acidic Environment. Calcium is best absorbed if you have an acidic environment—ascorbic acid (vitamin C), citric acid, or gastric hydrochloric acid—helps the body absorb calcium. The body is most likely to an have acidic environment in between meals, just before bedtime, or shortly after taking vitamin C. So, those are the times when you should take calcium as it has a greater chance of being absorbed.
- Boron. Boron may affect the calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus balance, as well as mineral movement and parathyroid hormone regulation. To learn more, read Osteopenia, Osteoporosis, and Rheumatoid Arthritis.
- Calcium Supplements. Calcium help to stimulate calcium retention in the bones, but not all supplements are equal. You need to take calcium aspartate or calcium citrate, as they are the most absorbable calcium forms. In addition, you should avoid oyster shell or dolomite and choose calcium supplement that contain vitamin D as vitamin D is essential for calcium absorption. Additionally, according to the government’s National Institute of Health (NIH), “absorption from supplements is best in doses 500 mg or less because the percent of calcium absorbed decreases as the amount of calcium in the supplement increases….Therefore, someone taking 1000 mg of calcium in a supplement should take 500 mg twice a day instead of 1000 mg calcium at one time.”
- Exercise. Exercise rejuvenates bones by increasing absorption of calcium whereas lack of exercise encourages bone loss. Additionally, high impact weight bearing, loading-bearing, or resistance training—such as weight lifting, jogging, step aerobics, gymnastics, hiking, racquetball, dancing or running and throwing sports (baseball, football, etc.)—causes the muscles and tendons to pull on the bones, which stimulates bone cells to produce denser, stronger bones.
- Non-fat Milk. Doctors have found non-fat milk does not help calcium absorption. In fact, non-fat milk actually lessens it, so avoid non-fat milk and drink low fat milk instead.
- Oxalates or Oxalic Acid. Certain foods contain oxalic acid, and they inhibit the absorption of calcium. To learn more about oxalates read Oxalates.
- Phytates or Phytic Acid. Phytates or phytic acid is found in fiber-rich foods, such as whole grains, and it can affect calcium absorption, particularly if you eat too much. If you want to learn more about fiber read Fiber is More Than a Hill of Beans.
- Phosphorus. Certain foods contain high levels of phosphorus, up to thirty times as much phosphorus as calcium, so, you want to be moderate in your intake of high phosphorus foods. To learn more, read Phosphorus Foods.
- Protein Intake. While too much protein can reduce calcium absorption, protein with lysine can help calcium absorption. These foods include yogurt, avocado, fish, cheeses, and chicken.