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Os-Cal UltraŽ

combines an easy-to-absorb form of calcium carbonate with key nutrients critical for maintaining healthy bones and helping to prevent osteoporosis. Buy Now

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New Os-Cal Ultra® targets greater nutritional needs of healthy bones

Have you ever thought of your bones as a bank-the kind that takes deposits and issues withdrawals? Probably not. But that's one way to describe the relationship between bones and calcium, says Michael Thomas, M.D., associate professor at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center. Bones act as a bank for calcium. Calcium keeps bones strong but it is deposited there only temporarily. "Calcium is constantly shifting through the body," Dr. Thomas says. "Every cell in the body uses calcium to enable it to function."

Because calcium doesn't just stay in one place, it's critical to make daily deposits to "keep your bank full," he says. "Although calcium is the main nutrient we think of when it comes to bone health, other vitamins and trace minerals work with calcium to decrease bone loss."

A new calcium supplement, Os-Cal Ultra®, combines an easy-to-absorb form of calcium carbonate with key nutrients critical for maintaining healthy bones and helping to prevent osteoporosis.

These additional nutrients make the following contributions to overall bone health:

Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium, which reduces age-related bone loss and bone fractures related to osteoporosis. The body produces its own vitamin D through exposure to sunlight. But that process slows down as a person ages. As we age, we tend to reduce our exposure to sunlight, so "we need to increase our consumption of vitamin D to enhance calcium absorption," Thomas says.

Magnesium helps the body absorb both calcium and vitamin D. The nutrient also helps synthesize proteins. Low magnesium status has been associated with postmenopausal osteoporosis.

The trace minerals zinc, copper and manganese all play a role in bone development and structure.

Zinc is part of an antioxidant enzyme that helps to prevent cellular destruction, which can cause problems with bone growth and maturation. In addition, increased intake of zinc by postmenopausal women has been shown to sustain bone density in the spine.

Fifty percent of the total copper content in the body is in the bones and muscles, and it plays a role in helping to keep bones from thinning.

Manganese, in combination with other trace minerals, helps prevent bone loss and osteoporosis as well.

Boron works with magnesium and vitamin D to enhance calcium absorption and help maintain calcium levels in the body.

Vitamin C works as an antioxidant. It is also essential for the formation of collagen (a protein that binds cells together) and aids in iron absorption.

Vitamin E serves as an antioxidant, protecting biological membranes and stabilizing cellular function. But studies also show that vitamin E can decrease the damage caused to bones by smoking. "We know that people who smoke or who are around smokers have increased calcium loss in the bones," Dr. Thomas says. "Vitamin E can decrease that effect." If vitamin E is not taken in sufficient amounts, smokers face a substantially increased risk of hip fractures.

"The biggest advantage of Os-Cal Ultra is that it makes sure that the calcium you take gets where it is supposed to," Dr. Thomas says. "Taking calcium is one thing, but getting it into the bones is the other."

Why is it important to take Calcium and Vitamin D?

Adequate calcium and vitamin D intake is critical to preventing and treating osteoporosis. Although calcium intake alone will not protect a menopausal woman from osteoporosis, adequate intake will ensure that calcium deficiency is not contributing to a weakening skeletal system.

What are the recommended daily dosages of Calcium?
The National Institutes of Health Consensus panel recommends 1000 milligrams of calcium for adult women until menopause. After menopause, the recommended range is 1000 to 1500 milligrams of calcium per day. If taking hormone replacement therapy or other preventative medications, the usual recommended dose is 1000 to 1200 milligrams per day. If not taking preventative medications in menopause, the recommendation is 1500 milligrams per day.

Click here to read about a new study regarding Calcium, Vitamin D and the risk of fracture

Can I get enough by increase Calcium in my diet?
It’s important to know which foods are calcium containing foods so you can increase the amount of calcium in your diet. Dairy products (including cheese), and broccoli are common calcium containing foods. One 8-ounce glass of milk contains approximately 300 milligrams of calcium, while a cup of yogurt contains 200 - 400 milligrams. Fortified foods, including orange juice and nutritional bars also contain extra calcium. In order to get adequate calcium in menopause you would have to, for example, drink five 8-ounce glasses of milk per day. Unfortunately, the number of calories ingested to obtain an adequate calcium intake from dietary products is often considered excessive. Therefore, supplementation with a calcium product is often recommended.

Click here to use the ‘Calcium Calculator’ at

How do I know if I’m getting enough?
The amount of calcium absorbed and utilized by the bone depends on a number of factors, including the solubility of the product, dose, number of dosages per day, and potential interference from co-ingested foods and medications. For instance, antacids can impair the absorption of calcium. And although 3-5% of patient's report occasional gas cramps when taking any calcium supplement, taking the supplement with meals will increase absorption of the supplement while reducing cramps.

It is preferred to take calcium supplements in divided doses throughout the day to aid in maximal absorption and tolerability. Spacing the doses by several hours or taking your calcium supplement with meals is optimal. The absorption of various calcium products is often debated. Preliminary results from an upcoming study show calcium citrate and calcium carbonate products with equivalent absorption rates.

How do I select a calcium supplement?

Calcium products are numerous and often of vary in quality and dose. When deciding on a calcium product, evaluating the amount of elemental calcium per dose is paramount. The calcium dosages listed above are based upon the elemental calcium per day. Calcium carbonate products (like Os-Cal®, Os-Cal Ultra®, Caltrate®) contain 40% elemental calcium. Calcium citrate products (like Citracal®) contain 21% elemental calcium. This factor correlates into the number of supplements necessary to achieve the appropriate dose per day. For instance, two tablets of Os-Cal® per day equate to 1000 milligrams of elemental calcium per day. Four to five tablets of Citracal® are required to achieve the same amount of elemental calcium. Chewable calcium carbonate products are available and are well tolerated. The antacid TUMS® is an excellent source of chewable calcium. Viactiv® is another chewable brand of calcium carbonate that is well tolerated. All will provide adequate calcium supplementation. The bottom line is that the best calcium supplement is one that is tolerated well by the individual, convenient to take, not cost prohibitive and manufactured from a quality source.

Click here to read about a recent study with information about leading calcium supplements

What are the recommended daily dosages of Vitamin D?
Vitamin D is essential for calcium to be absorbed by the intestines. Manufactured in the skin after exposure to ultraviolet rays from sunlight, vitamin D promotes absorption of calcium into the body from the gastrointestinal system. Recommended dosages for vitamin D vary depending on age and exposure to sunlight. Current guidelines suggest 400 international units (IU) per day for adults and 600 to 800 IU per day for people over age 61. Numerous calcium products contain vitamin D in appropriate amounts.

What are the sources of vitamin D?

Food sources

Fortified foods are the major dietary sources of vitamin D. Prior to the fortification of milk products in the 1930s, rickets (a bone disease seen in children) was a major public health problem in the United States. Milk in the United States is fortified with 10 micrograms (400 IU) of vitamin D per quart , and rickets is now uncommon in the US.

One cup of vitamin D fortified milk supplies about one-fourth of the estimated daily need for this vitamin for adults. Although milk is fortified with vitamin D, dairy products made from milk such as cheese, yogurt, and ice cream are generally not fortified with vitamin D. Only a few foods naturally contain significant amounts of vitamin D, including fatty fish and fish oils.

Exposure to sunlight
Exposure to sunlight is an important source of vitamin D. Ultraviolet (UV) rays from sunlight trigger vitamin D synthesis in the skin. Season, latitude, time of day, cloud cover, smog, and suncreens affect UV ray exposure. For example, in Boston the average amount of sunlight is insufficient to produce significant vitamin D synthesis in the skin from November through February. Sunscreens with a sun protection factor of 8 or greater will block UV rays that produce vitamin D, but it is still important to routinely use sunscreen whenever sun exposure is longer than 10 to 15 minutes. It is especially important for individuals with limited sun exposure to include good sources of vitamin D in their diet.

Is there a Recommended Dietary Allowance for vitamin D for adults?

The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) is the average daily dietary intake level that is sufficient to meet the nutrient requirements of nearly all (97-98%) healthy individuals in each life-stage and gender group. There is insufficient evidence to establish a RDA for vitamin D. Instead, an Adequate Intake (AI), a level of intake sufficient to maintain healthy blood levels of an active form of vitamin D, has been established. The 1998 AIs (4) for vitamin D for adults, in micrograms (mcg) and International Units (IUs) are:

Life-Stage Men Women
Ages 19-50 5 mcg* or 200 IU 5 mcg* or 200 IU
Ages 51-69 10 mcg* or 400 IU 10 mcg* or 400 IU
Ages 70 + 15 mcg* or 600 IU 15 mcg* or 600 IU
*1 mcg vitamin D = 40 International Units (IU)

Estimates of vitamin D intake in the United States are not available because dietary surveys do not assess vitamin D intake. Dietary intake of vitamin D is largely determined by the intake of fortified food (4).

Who may need extra vitamin D to prevent a deficiency?
Older Americans (greater than age 50) are thought to have a higher risk of developing vitamin D deficiency. The ability of skin to convert vitamin D to its active form decreases as we age. The kidneys, which help convert vitamin D to its active form, sometimes do not work as well when people age. Therefore, some older Americans may need vitamin D from a supplement.

It is important for individuals with limited sun exposure to include good sources of vitamin D in their diets. Homebound individuals, people living in northern latitudes such as in New England and Alaska, women who cover their body for religious reasons, and individuals working in occupations that prevent exposure to sunlight are at risk of a vitamin D deficiency. If these individuals are unable to meet their daily dietary need for vitamin D, they may need a supplement of vitamin D.

Individuals who have reduced ability to absorb dietary fat (fat malabsorption) may need extra vitamin D because it is a fat soluble vitamin. Some causes of fat malabsorption are pancreatic enzyme deficiency, Crohn’s disease, cystic fibrosis, sprue, liver disease, surgical removal of part or all of the stomach, and small bowel disease. Symptoms of fat malabsorption include diarrhea and greasy stools.

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