By Margaret Hunt

This is a subject that has been bothering me for a while. To take or not to take. And what is the alternative? Are calcium rich foods enough? Are we taking the recommended 1500 mg worth of these foods each day? For that is the dose recommended by my pharmacist. He told me that the only way that these supplements would harm us is if we took them in excess. We do lots of things in excess in this 'modern' age; and most of them not good for us. To guarantee we take the recommended amount, the industry has made it easy for us. Just read the instructions. The rub is that are a number of calcium supplements and all have many advantages, and the only one, it seems, that doesn't have a disadvantage is Microcrystalline Hydroxyapatite Concentrate 25% calcium. The disadvantages to all the rest of them is that they are not a complete bone food. But of course, this information comes to me in an advertisement for the above product. Go figure.

The book, Healthy Eating for Seniors, put out by the British Columbia Ministry of Health tells us that seniors should be taking in 1200 mgs of calcium a day. Obviously in reading that article I realize we are 300 mg behind the now-recommended dosage. They recommend that, of course, we should not stop eating calcium-rich foods.

As we get older we are at risk for osteoporosis,

and I have the condition called osteopenia, for which

I am taking the generic form of Fosomax once a week to put up a Stop sign on the road to osteoporosis.

With so many 'news reports' and scare tactics out there in the news, we are now bombarded with the fact that those products, once so wonderful for us, are now 'suspect.' For instance, good old milk products.

(If the cows are receiving antibiotics, and who knows what else...we are warned against taking those products, because we will be ingesting what they ingest, also).

So if I take Calcium Fortified Soy milk instead, I am warned by my Vietnamese friend not to drink too much daily, because 'things' have been added to it that are not safe for our systems.

Well, the cows today who have bachelor suites the size of a large apartment freezer do not fare very well. Sun and light, and roaming this free earth, are denied to most of the meat and poultry fare we so hungrily consume. The farmers, and all those of their kind are up against the proverbial rock and a hard place.

Now I read in another article that, surprise of surprises, calcium does not come from cows. Calcium is a mineral naturally found in rocks. Those rocks are then situated near dirt in which plants are growing.

The calcium goes into the plant via the soil. The cow eats the plant. And so on and so on. Back to the original heading: Calcium supplements - yes or no.

With all the things we 'should' be doing, thinking or taking, it is my opinion to go easy on ourselves, ask for advice from 'those in the know,' act wisely, and follow your own instincts. Those things seem to be the right barometer on which to measure our choices. So, really it is up to us in the long run.

Sometimes we forget where the calcium comes from.

Good old cows, or more correctly, cows that ate the mineral from the plant, via the soil, via the rock. Or as the dictionary says, from lime compounds.