||I have a question about coral calcium. Are
there any prescription drugs you shouldn't take with coral
calcium. Can you take it if you are allergic to shellfish?
There is so much hype about coral calcium... because it's being
marketed and sold directly to consumers. It's pretty safe because
it's just Calcium (Ca) Carbonate, but all that marketing carries
with it the danger of deception.
Time Magazine's March 14th article on this topic was titled,
Calcium: A Barefoot Scam."
Coral Calcium is Calcium Carbonate plus
Coral calcium is no great medical breakthrough-
it's basically TUMS without the sugar! Calcium carbonate is great
for acid reflux, because it absorbs acid. It also can get calcium
into your bloodstream, but not as well as Calcium Citrate does.
As one pundit put it, the value of Calcium for human beings is
not the question. It is the value of this form of calcium, and
that validity of the marketers' claims that we must examine.
Calcium Absorption: Calcium Carbonate vs. Calcium Citrate
meta-analysis of 15 studies including 184 people found that
absorption of Calcium Citrate was 20% higher than that of Calcium
Carbonate. That means 20% more of the citrate gets into your bloodstream
than the carbonate.
Japanese study did find that coral calcium was absorbed better
than the average calcium carbonate.
Coral Calcium Interacting with Drugs?
As to it affecting prescription drugs, the first thing you need
to know is that Ca Carbonate is an antacid, so it can prevent
the absorption of any herbs or pharmaceutical drugs that you take.
Coral Calcium is an Antacid
Antacids reduce your ability to absorb many drugs. If you are
taking an important drug, you may not absorb enough of it for
it to have its intended effect. You may want to talk to your doctor
about the dosage of your drugs; ask them if they think the dosage
needs to be increased since you are taking Ca Carbonate.
This can be quite serious if you are on a drug with a narrow
therapeutic margin like coumadin/warfarin, or another drug that
prevents life-threatening consequences (e.g. blood pressure medications
that prevent heart problems and stroke, or phenytoin which prevents
seizures and is directly affected by antacids- see below).
Specific Drug Interactions of Calcium Carbonate
The effects of these are decreased by antacids:
- Itraconazole (Sporanox)
- Ketoconazole (Nizoral)
- Phenytoin (Dilantin)
- Rofecoxib (Vioxx)
The effects of these are increased by antacids:
Antacids also affect folic acid, copper, phosphate, and potassium.
Coral Calcium and Shellfish Allergy
As for the shellfish question, it is indeed a risk.
Every resource I could find said to consult your physician, which
I interpret as an attempt to shift the responsibility onto your
Allergist Morris Nejat, M.D. says, "Shellfish, or crustaceans
are generally cross reactive. If you're is allergic to one, you
should avoid all of them."
So I'd say play it safe, and avoid it.
You can take Calcium Citrate instead, which absorbs better anyway.
In fact, you might take Citrate instead just on general principle
- So that you aren't encouraging health-supplement scam-artists.
All the best,
Armstrong, Goldman, Lance. Drug Information Handbook.
J. Herb-Drug Interactions: What Every Patient Needs to Know
Herald - "Little evidence to support grandiose claims for
M. Individual Allergies.
K, Bhuket T, Adams-Huet B, Rao DS. Meta-analysis of calcium
bioavailability: a comparison of calcium citrate with calcium
carbonate. Am J Ther 1999 Nov;6(6):313-21
K, Itakura E, Goto S, Esashi T. Calcium absorption from the
ingestion of coral-derived calcium by humans. J Nutr Sci Vitaminol
(Tokyo). 1999 Oct;45(5):509-17.
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