Common Misconceptions
& Important Facts

Below is a list of some of the common misconceptions that many people have regarding certain health and supplementation topics, as well as some important information you may not know. This list only has misconceptions and info regarding calcium and related topics. For our complete list, please visit MDsChoice.com.

  1. The old adage, "You get what you pay for." is NOT always true in the nutritional supplement industry or with pharmaceutical companies! These companies do NOT always offer the best product, quality ingredients, or even usable form of an ingredient even when they are often charging the highest prices. There are ways to easily evaluate this, read on.
  2. There are different types, grades and quality (purity) levels of what appears to be exactly the same ingredients. For instance, Glucosamine is available in HCL, N-ACETYL, D-NACETYL,  Sulfate NACL form, and in a Sulfate 2KCL forms, the last of which is the higher quality and more usable to the body. Furthermore, there are differences within the same compound. It can get very complicated. The easiest analogy I can come up with is gasoline. Everyone understands that there are different types of petroleum (fuel) products, from motor oil to diesel, to kerosene, to regular, to unleaded, to super, to jet fuel. Each has a particular usage and certain benefits when used for the right thing. Each has a different efficiency level. The same is true for nutrients. The manner in which nutrients are created, combined, manufactured, delivered to the body, and used within the body are all different. The professionals at MD's Choice are actively seeking the best forms, the optimum combinations, and the most bioavailable methods to ensure the maximum amount of nutrients are available to the body, to help the body solve either specific problems and to maintain optimum health.
  3. Calcium is probably the most surprising and easiest mineral to misunderstand. There are many different forms, carbonate, citrate, and chelate being the three most common forms found in supplements (which are discussed in the How to Supplement article). However, the next most important factor I learned was that calcium requires stomach acid to be freed (on the molecular level) in order to even be used by the body, especially when in a tablet or capsule form. When a company combines calcium with an antacid (like Tums® has done), the benefit is the antacid, NOT the calcium! Sure, there is calcium (carbonate) in those chewable tablets, but there is also ANTACID which reduces the acid levels in your stomach (raising the Ph level) and making it very difficult (if not impossible) to break down any nutrients, much less the calcium. Talk about defying logic and marketing misinformation! There are some prenatal products and osteoporosis advertisements that actually suggest that a pregnant woman should take Tums® for its calcium content. At least one prenatal formula actually includes a roll of Tums® (stating the roll is included for CALCIUM content). Science has proven this, yet many companies either are unaware of these findings or choose to completely disregard them. In the nutritional supplement world, it is truly a "Buyer Beware" and you better try to educate yourself, and seek facts or you are going to be wasting money trying to solve problems or maintain health with products that just aren't doing the job, not to mention the fact that you might actually harm your health because you're not actually giving it the nutrients it needs!
  4. Kidney Stones are NOT caused by too much calcium, like many of us were told. They are actually caused by not having enough calcium in your diet (food and supplementation).
  5. Most high blood pressure reacts positively to calcium and magnesium supplementation. Under no circumstances should ANYONE stop taking their prescription medication without their doctor's knowledge since their doctor has done many tests and knows the individual patients medical history. However, there are many (hundreds) of studies that show increasing calcium and magnesium intake (in the proper forms) can help the body maintain a healthier state of being and better regulate the blood pressure levels.
  6. It is impossible for more than 250mg of elemental calcium to be in a single capsule or even compressed tablet that can be swallowed by a normal human being (not counting chewable tablets). This means that all those 500mg (or higher) calcium tablets on the market are not really giving a person that much calcium. So, what actually makes up all those milligrams beyond the 250? See How to Supplement. Also take a look below to find out if you can determine exactly how much of a nutrient is actually in a supplement.
  7. There are two different ways that the amount of minerals (such as calcium and iron) are listed on bottles:
    1. In the combined form (no mineral can be delivered to a body in its pure form), which has the name of the mineral and the name of whatever it is combined with listed after the name of the mineral.
    2. The elemental form (the actual amount of the mineral minus whatever it is combined with).
    You ALWAYS want and need to know what the elemental amount (real amount of the minerals) that you will be ingesting is. How do you tell the difference? Well, if the company is dishonest, it is nearly impossible. However, based on the March 1999 FDA labeling regulations, all nutritional supplements are suppose to designate the difference between the two forms. This is a little challenging, but here are some examples that might help:
    1. Combined Form – "Calcium Carbonate.....500mg". Only about 50mg is actually the calcium, approximately 10% of the carbonate version.
    2. Elemental Form – "Calcium (as carbonate).....500mg". There is actually 500mg of calcium, but it took about 5,000mg of the carbonate to get that elemental amount. 
    3. Not Specified – In the Supplement Facts box it says "Calcium" with nothing but numbers after the name, yet, in the "Other Ingredients" (listed at the bottom of the facts box), it says "Calcium _______" (fill in the blank with the combined form of calcium that supplement uses). In this situation, you really can't tell how much calcium is in the product. Odds are that they listed the total combined amount. In any new nutritional supplement, this violated the March '99 FDA label regulations.
    The differences are subtle, and, until it was pointed out to me, I would have never understood the real world meaning of these subtle differences. Sure, I may have noticed the differences in a label comparison, but I thought it was just a "style thing" different companies did. NOT! It's important and something you, as a consumer, need to pay attention to. Not only is it a real FDA regulation, it is also a major difference science based companies employ to more specifically designate the differences between the forms of ingredients and calculating formula ratios and balances. FORM IS IMPORTANT! Without knowing the form, a person canNOT figure out the actual (elemental) amount of a given ingredient in a product, making it impossible to approximate the amount of the actual mineral that is available to your body for actual use. Therefore, without knowing the form, it is impossible to make educated decisions and ensure you are getting enough of the specific mineral your body needs.
  8. Many doctors don't explain to a new mother that supplementing their diet is necessary beyond the pregnancy. Nursing your baby requires a whole lot of YOUR nutrients. If you aren't supplementing, then your body will literally rob itself to nourish your baby. There are more women that have had 3 or more children suffering from osteoporosis and osteoarthritis than any other group.
  9. Proper calcium supplementation during pregnancy is vital to the health of the mother. Oh, it probably won't kill you if you don't do it, but it will likely effect your quality of life, if you are lucky enough to live into your 60's, 70's or 80's. When your body is busy gathering the ingredients to make your child, it searches your intake (diet and supplements) for what it needs. When it needs something else, such as calcium (very common and usually under supplemented, especially during pregnancy), it TAKES it from your body!
  10. Mood swings and PMS are just part of life, and all women have to deal with that. Not! This is another thing that is only fractionally true. Calcium, magnesium, boron, and zinc can definitely have dramatically positive effects on women suffering from such chemical imbalances.
  11. While the OB/GYN community and general practitioners are absolutely correct in stating that Vitamin D is required to effectively be able to use calcium within the body, they all seem to forget that this is a vitamin that a normal, healthy human body manufactures from sunlight. As little as 15 minutes a week in the sun supplies the body all the Vitamin D it requires. So, unless you stay indoors all the time and never get out in the sun, odds are that your body doesn't require additional Vitamin D supplementation.

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