T Nation

Let's talk about calcium

I was just wondering how many of you out there supplement with calcium. I don’t, but I’ve been experiencing a lot of achy joints, long-lasting bone bruises etc. lately and was wondering if this might be a contributing cause. I know that getting older is part of it (just turned 40 a few months ago), but it seems awfully sudden to just be attributable to aging.


Anyway, any thoughts would be appreciated (especially from the older lifters). Thanks.

Can’t say that I’m an older lifter at 20, but I used to supplement with calcium…I no longer see the need however, due to the loads of cottage cheese, spinach, and other calcium containing foods I eat every day.

Dosen’t hurt, might as well I say. I use about 1g per day. From all that I have read about calcium and it’s effect on muscular contraction, bone density, fat loss etc… I think it’s cheap enough to keep it in the arsenal.

Definitely take calcium supplements. Hey, I had read a LONG time ago that the best time to take calcium was before bed time - when you’re body would utilize it best. Is this even true?

Minerals are best taken at night when the body is resting.

I’m hip! Definitely. I’m 40 and recently came to the conclusion that calcium deficiency was causing me problems, especially with kidney stones. The crux of the problem is maintaining a balance between phosphorus and calcium. It’s not 1:1 but pretty close, with calcium being slightly higher. The body uses bones as a reservior of calcium and phosporus just as it uses muscles as a reservoir for glucose. Calcium does so many other things with hormones, muscles and brain, it’s hard to keep track (do a Google search on calcium…).
Protein containing foods are generally high in phosporus, especially meat. Dark sodas contain phosphoric acid. It’s especially important to keep calcium and vitamin D containing foods prominently featured in your diet, especially when having meat. That means every day for us T-folk. Yogurt, milk, cheese, calium citrate supps (with vit D), etc.
Some of you endocrinologists out there might chime in.
I came to the conclusion that I tend to grow stones during episodes when my diet was high in phosphorus (lots of meat and diet Dr Pepper), and low in calcium.

I’ve heard a fair bit about timing of mineral intake throughout the day but I don’t ever remember hearing that calcium is best utilized at night (although this could be true I’ve just never read it). One thing I have heard a lot is that the best time to take zink (which in terms of body building is probably a more important mineral than calcium) is at night just before bed…this is because some of the biggest GH releases occur during sleep and zink status is somehow critical during these releases. Anyway an important thing to note is that calcium inhibits the absorption of zink, so the two should never be taken together (several hours between intake is needed). So I would say take your zink at bedtime (along with magnesium) and take calcium earlier in the day.

The problmes with bones and joints come from drop in hormone levels. Calcium supplements won’t help with osteoporosis, but exogenous testosterone will.

Calcium is a natural sympathetic nervous system stimulant so it would probably be a bad idea to take it before bed.

The main reason that calcium before bed is recommended is because without a constant intake throughout the night, the body must resort to depleting its stored form of calcium: the skeleton. The only problem that I see with this is that calcium interferes with ZMA, which I take religiously 30 minutes before bed. Luckily, I use a casein based shake right before I hit the sack, so I’m getting plenty of calcium from that. The important thing is to make sure that the ZMA comes before the calcium.

I have been using Coral Calcium for a few weeks (i know, i know it has been hyped up a great deal by uncrupulous companies) and feel that is is a great product. My joint pain went a way after a few days and I feel that my energy is better. The product is loaded with minerals as well which I think are very effective after workouts.

Thanks for the responses, guys. Lots of good info. I do eat a fair amount of red meat, while my only real casein-protein comes from cottage cheese pudding before bed. So that point about the calcium/potassium balance may very well apply in my case (although I’ve never had a problem with kidney stones). I guess the only way to really tell is to start taking a calcium supp and see, eh?


Thanks again (and if there are any more opinions floating around out there…)

Well I usually take a calcium supplement during precontest - which is right around now for me. SO, I’m gonna take one right before bed and see what happens!

Mike, what brand of coral calcium do you use? Thanks.

I munch on TUMS all the time, I eat about 3-5 of those things a day. Usually atleast!

2 things I heard/read about calcium - you’ll have to do research to verify it though cause I can’t remember the source of this information…I just offer it as food for thought.

1.) high protein foods that are also high in calcium don’t give you as much calcium benefit as you may think.(something to do with the calcium being used by your body to process the protein) More calcium benefit would come from a vegetable that’s high in calcium like broccoli (I think) than some sort of dairy product.

2.) Although TUMS does have a high calcium content its not as easily absorbed as calcium citrate. Besides, why would you want to induce a chronic low-acid condition in your stomach?

Yes. I supplement with calcium. Spaced through-out the day. I also use a toothpaste that is suppose to help you keep the calicum in your teeth. It must be working cause my x-rays show the calcium density of a late twenties/early thirties. Best of Luck.

HB, good point. I have an answer for you though, when I use Tums it’s used early in the morning before workouts and two hours before any meal. That way there is no low acid environment. Make sense.

To quote Cy Wilson:


“Likewise, the tired old chestnut about high protein diets leading to calcium deficiencies and eventually, brittle old bones is also bullshit. True, high protein diets can cause some calcium to leech out of bones, but the amount lost in a single day can usually be replaced by the amount of calcium contained in single tablespoon of milk.”


I also recently read a report from the 2002 Experimental Biology Convention that disproved the claim that high protein diets cause osteoporosis (or significantly impair calcium absorption in any way).

I take a gram a day. The only dairy I take in is cottage cheese, so I figure my diet provides little calcium. I have read that calcium is also critical in muscle recovery, particuarly involving contraction, as it is depleted during intense weight sessions.