There is a link between calcium and constipation; let's investigate:
Why calcium causes constipation
How to get your calcium but avoid constipation.
There are numerous clinical studies that link calcium with constipation.
For instance, 1460 elderly women participated in a 5 year study on adverse effects caused by taking a calcium supplement. Constipation was identified as one of the main side effects.
Calcium’s effect on muscles is to cause them to tighten up, to contract. The colon is one large muscle.
When a calcium supplement isn't absorbed, it makes it's way into the colon. Since calcium causes muscles to contract, it causes the colon to tighten up.
The colon uses peristalsis, a wave-like action of tightening and relaxing, to move stool through the colon.
Since calcium keeps the colon from relaxing, the colon finds it harder to move stool along.
The colon takes stool in liquid form and extracts water to turn the stool into a solid. When stool spends too much time in the colon, too much water is drawn out.
The stool becomes dry and hard, becomes difficult to pass. Thus the link between calcium and constipation.
There are numerous things that can be done to keep calcium from causing constipation.
Let's look at each of these.
1. Balance out calcium with magnesium
2. Take calcium in smaller, more frequent doses
3. Switch to a calcium that is better absorbed
4. Get more of your calcium from food
5. Less calcium might be better
Unabsorbed calcium causes muscles to contract, magnesium causes them to relax.
When magnesium and calcium are balanced, the colon is able to contract and relax normally.
Most people who take a calcium supplement just don’t get enough magnesium. In fact, research indicates that 80% of Americans have a deficiency of magnesium in their diet.
Dr. Mercola recommends supplementing our diet with magnesium.
Having a proper amount of magnesium has numerous health benefits.
Magnesium draws water into the colon. This water expands, softens and lubricates stool.
In the past the recommended calcium to magnesium ratio has been 2 to 1. However, more and more top holistic practitioners like Dr. Mercola and LeafLady.org now say that we need at least as much magnesium as calcium for proper absorption and function.
Since magnesium aids in calcium absorption, a person can take less calcium and still have sufficient. No more calcium and constipation.
Some recommend 300 to 400 mg. of magnesium per day. However, some are now recommending anywhere from 400 to 800 mg. per day. This extra magnesium not only helps with constipation, but can help lower blood pressure and help protect the heart and brain.
Magnesium is truly an unsung hero!
What happens if you accidentally take too much magnesium?
Magnesium is great for relieving and preventing the calcium and constipation effect. Balance out calcium with magnesium, and many times constipation simply disappears.
My personal experience
In 2007 my wife and I started taking a sea mineral supplement rich in magnesium. It has 60% magnesium chloride and 40% magnesium sulfate. We were delighted to find that the magnesium got rid of our constipation.
The nice thing is, this supplement is intended for daily use. We simply take whatever amount it takes to have normal bowel movements, which is anywhere from 1 tsp. to 1.5 tsp. per day.
Our daily calcium is balanced out perfectly by this magnesium.
Not only does this sea mineral supplement contain magnesium, it contains all 76 minerals found in the ocean. Research suggests that dozens of these minerals may also help with calcium utilization.
Besides trace minerals, researchers recommend a multivitamin to help with calcium absorption. I have found that sea vegetables work even better. They contain vitamins, minerals, plus hundreds of phyto-nutrients.
Vitamin K2, D3
Taking 90 micrograms (mcg) Vitamin K2 and 2000 IU of vitamin D3 can help with calcium absorption. The best source of Vitamin D is the sun. Thirty minutes of direct overhead sunlight per day is usually adequate.
However, in the winter or when we spend our time mostly indoors, it may be helpful to supplement with vitamin D3. In the winter I take 4,000 IU to 5,000 IU a day. It also helps to protect me from colds and the flu.
Between the magnesium, Vitamin D and SeaVeg, I now absorb calcium more efficiently and have been able to drop back to just 800 mg. of total calcium intake a day.
Dairy, dark greens
Since I include dairy and dark green vegetables in my diet, I rarely need supplemental calcium. This is the best way to get needed calcium in the diet.
The body is only able to absorb about 500 mg. of calcium at a time. Any more than this just passes on into the colon, where it tightens the colon muscle and can cause the "calcium and constipation" response. Therefore, for best absorption, it is best to take smaller amounts of calcium multiple times a day.
For instance, if you feel you need 1200 mg. a day, try taking 4 doses of 300 mg. each.
A calcium tablet can be broken in half or in thirds to help with this.
Sometimes a doctor will recommend large daily doses of calcium for those with osteoporosis or who are pregnant. Splitting up the dose can be especially helpful for these individuals.
Click here for detailed information on why it is important to take calcium in smaller doses.
Rolaids and Tums contain calcium carbonate, with 200 to 400 mg. in each tablet. Many inexpensive calcium supplements also contain calcium carbonate.
The body doesn't absorb calcium carbonate very well. This poor absorption is one of the main reasons that calcium carbonate causes constipation problems.
An acidic environment is needed in order for our bodies to absorb calcium carbonate. When we eat, our bodies emit stomach acid to help digest the food. That's why you should take calciumn calcium carbonate at meal times.
Another option is to drink some orange juice when you take it. The acid in the orange juice will help you to digest the calcium.
If calcium carbonate is the most widely used calcium, calcium citrate comes in second. Solgar and Citrical both use this form of calcium.
It is better absorbed than calcium carbonate, so it causes less of a problem of calcium and constipation.
Calcium citrate does not need to be taken with food, since it doesn't require an acidic environment to be absorbed. It is perfect for those whose stomachs don't produce enough stomach acid. This is usually a problem:
Click here for more information on improving calcium absorption.
Most of us know that calcium in food is better absorbed by the body. If we eat the right types of foods, we can get all the calcium that our bodies need.
Dark greens like spinach, mustard greens, collard greens and turnip greens contain as much as 100 mg. of calcium per one cup serving. For those who are able, dairy is also a renowned source of calcium.
Calcium that is contained naturally in our foods is:
This means far fewer constipation problems. Click here to learn more about getting calcium from foods.
In a 2007 Canyon Ranch Study, they found that consuming over 2,500 mg. of calcium a day may result in developing kidney stones and lead to kidney failure.
Other studies reveal that excessive calcium may result in joint problems, formation of plaque in arteries, heal spurs and gall stones.
When we take excess calcium our bodies will find it difficult to absorb magnesium, iron, and other important minerals.
To much calcium may result in:
Another study suggested that too much calcium might increase the chance of prostate cancer.
Of course, it is difficult to take enough magnesium to balance out 2,500 mg. of calcium, and calcium and constipation is a normal result.
Click here for more information on why less calcium might be better, especially in helping to prevent the calcium and constipation reality.
Here are more pages on our website that talk about the relationship between calcium and constipation.