Saturday, June 25, 2011
Calcium - Are you Getting Enough?
I'm going to start with a confession. I was not getting enough calcium for quite a while. Not that I was being careless about my calcium intake, I'm just awful at math. And reading. And thinking, too, apparently.
Every morning I have a smoothie for breakfast, with blueberries, cherries, and assorted supplement powders and liquids. One of these is NOW Calcium Citrate Powder. Having read that the maximum absorbable calcium at any give time is about 700 mg, I aimed at taking that amount every morning to supplement my intake of calcium from food.
I aimed...but I missed. As a result of the way my brain processes even the simplest mathematical calculations, I was taking only about 350 mg. each morning.
Let me step aside here to tell you I have both osteo and rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, and a bulging disk. So I've lived with a fair amount of pain for many years. Or perhaps that should be an unfair amount of pain. And I'd been having more lately, causing me to consider taking more than one tablet per day of my OTC antiinflamatory of choice, naproxen sodium. I did not want to do that.
Fortunately I didn't have to, because one morning I was reading the calcium label again, and realized I was taking half the amount I thought I was taking. So whipping out my sharp mathematical skills, I adjusted my supplementation to give me 700 mg. each morning. Or so I thought. Because, once again, I miscalculated.
Several days later, I realized I was taking not 700 mg, but 1050 mg. So I adjusted the dose back to 700 mg. But in all this miscalculation I learned a very valuable lesson. For me, 1050 mg. works a whole lot better than 700 mg. for relieving pain!
From the first day I took the 1050 mg. dose, I was in a lot less pain. I was able to sit at my computer (I work at home, online, many hours a day) for long hours without the intolerable pain I was having for weeks, which had forced to work in discomfort or take longer breaks to lie down.
To use the typical pain scale, while taking the 350 mg. dose, I was often in the range of 7-8 on the 1-10 pain scale, and having frequent attacks of plantar fasciitis at night.
When I mistakenly upped my dose to 1050 mg., I dropped to about 2-3 on the pain scale, and was working longer periods without breaks! And even those breaks were to go do other stuff like eat, check the mail, etc. The low level of pain I had was easy to ignore.
My posture felt better, more relaxed. It was easier to sit up, or stand up, straight, as opposed to feeling like I was being pulled into contortions and fighting against my body to maintain anything resembling decent posture. The plantar fasciitis symptoms virtually disappeared.
Those good feelings - less pain, less muscle tension - were with me all day, every day while I took the 1050 mg. dose. When I realized my miscalculation and started taking only 700 mg. per morning, the pain and tension increased again (4-5 on the pain scale) from that day until a couple days later (yesterday) when I started taking 1050 mg. again. I was in less pain again yesterday, as before, about 2-3 on the pain scale.
So it's clear to me, for whatever reason - my personal chemistry, the type of calcium I take, other supplements I take that may help absorption beyond the generally accepted limit, or even factors that may keep me from absorbing some of whatever level of calcium I am taking - taking 1050 mg. per morning works best for me.
Everybody is different. Needs and contraindications vary. Consult a qualified health professional before making changes to your supplements, diet, lifestyle, etc. What works well for me might be bad bad bad for you. I hope not, because for me, it works wonders. And I hope it will for you, too.
Note that because of the absorption limits, it is often recommended to take your calcium in two separate doses. And that's great, if it works for you. Taking some at bedtime may help you sleep better.
Oh, and one other thing. Besides the other pain relief, the increased dose of calcium is helping another significant pain problem I have, interstitial cystitis (IC). My own theory is that because calcium neutralizes excess acid in your body (not just in your stomach, such as Tums), it is helping my bladder, too. (So does the marshmallow tea I take daily, but I've been taking that for about a year, so that wasn't likely to be the recent cause of some relief from that painful condition.) My IC flares up whenever I ingest acidic foods or liquids, and has ever since the problem started in 1970.
For me, not getting enough calcium has taken a noticeable toll, and most likely it's done a number on my finely-boned skeltal structure as well. I'll have to check into that soon. But for now, I'm happy just feeling better. Now I'm off to fix my long-awaited breafast!