The Supplement You Need If You Have Osteoporosis

Being diagnosed with osteoporosis can be frightening. This bone disease not only causes pain and distress but also affects your everyday life. Simple things, such as going out for a run or carrying your groceries home, can result in fractures. The bones become weaker and weaker, explains the Mayo Clinic, which in turn may increase your risk of falls.

While it's not possible to reverse bone loss, you can slow down this process through lifestyle changes. For example, certain foods — especially those rich in calcium, vitamin D, magnesium, and potassium, can help strengthen your bones. Fatty fish, flaxseed oil, and other foods rich in omega-3s are beneficial, too, according to the Bone Health and Osteoporosis Foundation (BHOF). Researchers also recommend limiting caffeine, alcohol, soft drinks, and most foods containing phytates, oxalates, or large amounts of sodium. Spinach, for instance, is high in oxalates, a group of compounds that inhibit calcium absorption. Caffeine and sodium have similar effects.

In a perfect world, you should be able to get enough calcium, zinc, and other essential nutrients from food. But most foods are highly processed and may lose some of their nutritional value during cooking and storage. Plus, your body might not be able to fully absorb the vitamins and minerals needed for bone health. Either way, certain dietary supplements can prevent further bone loss and fill nutritional gaps. 

Take this dietary supplement to manage osteoporosis

About 98% of the calcium in your body is stored in the bones, states the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Calcium supports bone growth and repair, muscle function, vasodilation, and other processes. Certain factors, such as aging and low estrogen levels, can affect calcium absorption and contribute to osteoporosis. To stay on the safe side, aim for 1,000 milligrams of calcium per day if you're a man or woman aged 19 to 50, recommends the NIH. Women over 51 years old need 1,200 milligrams per day.

The NIH explains that calcium absorption decreases to 25% in adulthood and continues to decline over time. What's more, only one-third of the calcium in food is absorbed into your body. Given these aspects, it makes sense to take a daily calcium supplement. Most products on the market contain either calcium citrate or calcium carbonate. The latter doesn't need an acidic environment to be absorbed, so it's a better choice for people with low stomach acid levels, says the NIH. Ideally, choose a formula with no more than 500 milligrams of calcium per serving in order to maximize its absorption.

BHOF recommends starting with a small dose, such as 200 or 300 milligrams per day for a week, to minimize the side effects. Calcium supplements may cause digestive distress, so it's best to increase the dosage gradually. Also, note that vitamin D helps increase calcium absorption. Consider taking these supplements together to fully reap the benefits.