Suzanne Hollander, MS, RD

As a dietitian, home cook, and enthusiast of all-things-delicious, I'm often asked, "so what do YOU eat?" Here's a blog to answer that very question! My hope is that you'll find (even just a little) inspiration from some of my favorite recipes, restaurants, party-ideas and food musings for your own happy, healthy, food-loving lifestyle.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Building Bones: Effects of Slow-Release Calcium

A new mineral supplement is on the market: slow-release calcium citrate, in the brand form of Slow-Release Citracal 1200, manufactured by Bayer. Thought I'd answer some questions about it:

  • Why a calcium supplement? Many Americans, especially women, do not get enough calcium + vitamin D3 to build strong bones and prevent osteoporosis. While 3-4 servings of low-fat milk and yogurt daily can provide needed calcium, many of us fail to consume that. 
  • Why slow-release? Your body can really only absorb about 500mg of calcium at a time (and you need about twice that amount daily). Most calcium supplements are in 250mg pills, meaning you need to take about 2 LARGE pills in the morning and 2 LARGE pills again later in the day. With slow-release, you would need only 1 pill per day. 

But are the slow-release supplements better? Here's what I gathered:

  • An independent (not Bayer-sponsored) study showed that slow-release calcium supplements may preserve vitamin D levels over standard calcium supplements, helping to build strong bones.
  • According to package instructions, slow-release Citracal (unlike their other calcium supplements) contain calcium carbonate (vs. calcium citrate), which MUST BE TAKEN WITH FOOD.
  • REASON TO BE SKEPTICAL: The only "study" Bayer cites for the effectiveness of its new product in meeting the Recommended Daily Intake level of calcium with just one dose is "Data on file."
My recommendation, as always, get your calcium through food instead of pills. If you aren't getting enough, consider a supplement whose effectiveness is well-documented. As far as Slow-Release Citrate, in my opinion, we have yet to see enough real studies to know whether it is actually effective. 

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