Q: I want to supplement with a calcium product, but don’t know which to use. I am also unsure as to what the ratio of calicum to magnesium ought to be. What is the rule here?
A: The correct calcium to magnesium ratio is always 2:1. Magnesium is always needed in any calcium supplementation because it helps the body absorb calcium at optimum levels. But Vitamin D and potassium also help the body absorb calcium at the gut level, so they are important in factoring in how your body will “actually” take in the calcium supplements you give it. What you want to avoid is the practice of supplementing in high doses with individual supplements. There is a reason that multi-vitamin/ multi-mineral compilations exist: They keep things in balance. Supplementing high levels of one thing can negatively impact other levels of minerals and throw the body off balance. The recommendation for calcium is between 1000 and 1500 milligrams daily, with a magnesium ratio of half of that. But since the body can only absorb about 500 milligrams at a time, it is always a good idea to supplement 2-3 times per day, throughout the day. It’s hard sometimes with commercial preparations of calcium-magnesium because they are usually in the 1000 to 1500 range in one dose. Remember though that as a bodybuilder your bone matrix is also strong – more than someone who does not work out – because bone density increases as a result of resistance exercise. Blood tests are also a poor indicator of whether you are deficient in calcium because that blood level of calcium in a fixed number, for the most part. Just supplement using a multi-vitamin/ multi-mineral that is formulated for very active people, and you should be fine.