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Calcium-Magnesium Balance

Many people, especially women in their 40's and 50's, supplement with extra calcium for bone health. If you do not consume ample greens each day or at least four servings of dairy foods each day, it is important to ensure adequate calcium intake and supplementation is appropriate. 

However, it's important to realize that certain nutrients work synergistically and sometimes antagonistically in the body--which means you cannot add more of one nutrient without affecting the status of the others. It's important to get enough magnesium as well, because magnesium is critical to so many functions in the body, and many people are deficient. If you do not have adequate magnesium, taking calcium for bone health will not work very well because your body will not be able to absorb it properly. Excess calcium can even increase risk of heart problems, so it is crucial to only supplement as needed when the diet is inadequate.

Discuss supplementation needs with a professional.

The suggested ratio of intake of these two vital nutrients is about 2:1 calcium to magnesium. Magnesium also requires an acidic stomach environment for best absorption, so taking it between meals or at bedtime is recommended. Meals high in phosphorus or calcium (calcium and magnesium can compete), or alcohol use may decrease magnesium absorption. However--many people get more calcium in their diet than they do magnesium--so due to that, you might actually need to supplement about the same mg of each.

For the general population, look for a calcium/magnesium formula or supplement your caclium with extra magnesium. For specific nutrient recommendations for your particular needs, consult a registered dietician or a naturopathic MD.

Click here to send us your questions about calcium and magnesium balance.

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