DEAR DR. BLONZ: I know that osteoporosis runs in my family, but I have an issue with lactose, so I have to be careful what I eat. I have been using a calcium-based multimineral supplement with vitamin D to be sure I get all essential nutrients. I'd like information about a product made with red algae calcium, as this is promoted as a better form of calcium that also comes with all other minerals needed to make bone. -- L.M., Aurora, Illinois
DEAR L.M.: Understanding that osteoporosis may run in your family is essential to knowing what steps you should be taking. (Determine if osteoporosis runs in your family at b.link/g2x764yu.) This diagnosis will also help your children know if they're potentially at risk so they can adopt beneficial diet and lifestyle behaviors.
Calcium is primary for healthy bones and teeth, but magnesium, silicon, boron, copper, zinc and manganese are also needed, along with vitamins D, K and C for mineral absorption and bone formation. Phosphorus is vital for bone health, but the intake in the U.S. usually greatly exceeds our requirements.
When taking a calcium supplement, it is best to avoid more than 500 mg in a single dose. Be sure to check that your calcium (or any) supplement won't interfere with any other medications you take. (Check with the prescribing physician and your pharmacist, or use the "interaction checker" at drugs.com.) For information on preventing osteoporosis with calcium, see b.link/4rrf6erb.
The red algae calcium you mention is a crystalline structure that's basically calcium carbonate -- limestone of the sea, if you will. It is unclear how any product containing only that substance can claim to have all the minerals in the correct proportions for bone growth. I predict a check of the ingredients statement and Supplement Facts label will reveal other components in the product. Calcium carbonate from any source is best taken with food, as the acid environment in the stomach is needed to help break it down to make the calcium bioavailable.
You mentioned you have lactose intolerance, so you may have avoided certain dairy products. Dairy, while not essential for bone health, does provide a convenient package of nutrients. Look for lactose-free dairy products now available, including milk, yogurt and kefir.
Being active is helpful, relying on the "use it or lose it" approach for bones and attached muscles. Weight-bearing exercises, such as walking, stretching and other floor exercises, can help. If osteoporosis, or its forerunner, osteopenia, is already on the scene, there are strategies, medications and periodic monitoring to assist. Discussing all this with your health professional and physical therapist is best. Find additional information on osteoporosis at b.link/2bzy977z.
Send questions to: "On Nutrition," Ed Blonz, c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO, 64106. Send email inquiries to email@example.com. Due to the volume of mail, personal replies cannot be provided.