Dairy Products: An Important Source of Calcium
Out of the sources of calcium available, dairy products most aptly provide the necessary calcium with the least amount of side effects. Using dairy products as a calcium source cuts out the need to research which type of calcium is being supplied because all dairy products contain elemental calcium (Got Calcium?). A benefit of elemental calcium is an increased ability to gauge how much calcium is being absorbed (Calcium Supplemental Guidelines). This is because the elemental calcium in dairy products is more easily absorbed (Got Calcium?) Dairy products’ calcium is also less susceptible to complications with other ingested substances such as food or medications (National Osteoporosis Foundation). Removing these possible complications also removes some of the concern of short-term health risks associated with calcium. Studies have also indicated that elemental calcium does not increase some long-term health risks as calcium citrate or calcium carbonate (which are both found in calcium supplement pills) might (Harvard School of Public Health). All of these benefits make dairy products a safe and reasonable choice for supplying calcium needs.
There are many types of calcium available, and with all of them a certain amount should be ingested each day. Though calcium requirements vary by age and gender, the average person needs about 1000 mg of calcium a day (Nutrition). This helps to keep up with bone growth and repair, and keep up with the loss of calcium through shed materials (National Osteoporosis Foundation). Without continually resupplying the body with calcium severe health problems can ensue (National Osteoporosis Foundation). This resupplying can be done using different calcium forms. The main forms calcium can be found in are elemental calcium, calcium citrate, and calcium carbonate (Calcium Supplemental Guidelines). Citrate and carbonate bind the calcium in calcium citrate and calcium carbonate, and by doing so make it harder for the body to break the substance apart and use the calcium (National Osteoporosis Foundation). Elemental calcium is easily ingested, however, due to its ionic nature (Got Calcium?). Ions are not bound into a compound, and so are free floating within the system. This means that the body can absorb and use the calcium provided without breaking bonds in order to get at it (Got Calcium?).
Elemental calcium found in dairy is more easily absorbable, and more easily regulated in both the amount ingested and the appropriateness of the source. The benefit to easily absorbing the calcium is that less is needed to reach daily requirements, and the percent of calcium listed on the nutrition facts more closely matches the amount of calcium the body actually absorbs. As stated above, calcium in more easily absorbed in ionic form found in dairy products, which neither calcium citrate or calcium carbonate contain. Additionally, calcium citrate is...