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Question: Doctor Ettinger,

My OBGYN just told me that after menopause, every female needs to supplement themselves with extra calcium. What’s the truth here?

Jane Swanson

Answer: Jane,

First, there is no set age when either males or females suddenly need to  start adjusting their calcium intake. In contrast to a number of other nutrients whose requirements tend to change with advancing age, requirements for calcium are dependent on multiple genetic, metabolic, and lifestyle factors, none of which are age or gender-related.

Only in pregnant or lactating females is it potentially justified to increase their calcium intake by about 400 mg per day to cover additional needs for the baby. However, even then it is far better to assess individual requirements since that amount would be totally inadequate when there is a history of the mother being chronically calcium deficient, which increases the risk of birth defects in the baby, while at the same time there are plenty of pregnant women whose calcium levels are perfectly adequate, or even on the high side, without extra supplementation.

Second, this is no different than what may apply to the general population, where some individuals (regardless of age or gender) suffer from chronic calcium deficiency and require rather large amounts of extra calcium to meet requirements, while the opposite applies to many other individuals who suffer from chronic calcium overload. So the “one-size-fits-all” recommendations used by most practitioners for post-menopausal women not only perpetuates the dilemma for those with calcium assimilation problems, but they also add to the woes of those who retain too much calcium.

Lastly, a younger body is generally much more forgiving when dealing with high calcium levels, however with every advancing decade, excessive calcium intake, or excessive storage from a lack of calcium co-factors (vitamin D, boron, magnesium), will take an increasingly irreversible toll by calcifying an individual’s organs, joints, and/or cardiovascular system, in addition to causing a negative impact on stomach acid levels, mood, energy, and general mineral balance.

Sincerely,

Marcus Ettinger DC, BSc.

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