Our physiotherapist expert Jason Lee answers Anne’s question about the best supplements to take for osteoporosis. In particular, she wants to know whether calcium tablets help.
I am 68 years old and have had osteoporosis for approximately 16 years. I used to take Fosamax for 10 years continually, but due to side effects, I have stopped taking it. All I take now is Caltrate, which I heard on the news the other day that is a waste of time taking it. Do you think I should keep on taking Caltrate, or is there something better that does not have side effects and will help my osteoporosis?
The daily recommended calcium intake is approximately 1300mg per day. However, various factors can affect how calcium is absorbed. Low vitamin D levels, excessive caffeine or alcohol intake, certain health conditions (such as kidney disease or coeliac disease) and certain medicines (e.g. prednisolone) can reduce the absorption of calcium.
Food labels can be a fantastic source of information to help you calculate how much calcium you consume on a daily basis. Calcium-rich foods include yoghurt and other dairy products. It is recommended that you include three serves of dairy each day. Other calcium-rich foods include tinned salmon, sardines or tuna (when you eat the bones), almonds, and vegetables, including broccoli, celery and chickpeas.
Whilst it is recommended that you get the majority of calcium through diet, there are various supplements that can help you reach the daily recommended amount. According to Osteoporosis Australia, a calcium supplement dose between 500–600mg is considered safe and effective. Calcium supplements are usually well tolerated and can be combined with vitamin D supplements if required.
Remember, your local pharmacist or doctor is well placed to discuss the amount of calcium in different calcium supplements. And whilst calcium supplements (including Caltrate) can help you to reach the recommended daily intake, it is important that you try to get the majority of your calcium through food.
Jason Lee APAM
Jason is happy to answer any questions you may have, simply send an email to [email protected]