By Dave Turner
Unless you've been living in a cave recently, you've no doubt heard the hype surrounding the "wonder cure" of the moment--coral calcium.
For those of you not familiar with coral calcium, it's a much more expensive version of regular calcium originating from Okinawa, Japan.
And if you believe the hype, not only is it the best source of calcium for your bones, it's also capable of curing everything from cancer to diabetes and every disease in between.
There's only one problem. There is no evidence to support those claims. In fact, there isn't anything to suggest that coral calcium is anymore effective than regular calcium--just a lot more expensive.
Coral and the shells of sea creatures are made of calcium carbonate, the most common and usually cheapest form of calcium supplement. Coral calcium also supplies other minerals such as magnesium, mostly in small amounts, which you can easily get from foods or a basic multi-vitamin/mineral pill.
There has been little or no good research done on coral as a source of calcium or as a treatment for disease. But that doesn’t stop the marketers from making their claims, since dietary supplements are virtually unregulated. You have no idea what’s really in the bottle or if the stuff is even safe.
Historically, calcium supplements haven’t always been safe: years ago calcium carbonate from bone meal or oyster shells, for instance, was used in some supplements—but was later found to contain high levels of lead. Since then the government and manufacturers took action to reduce lead levels in existing calcium supplements. But new supplements can go untested.
There are, however, plenty of reliable calcium supplements. For instance, generic calcium carbonate pills can cost as little as five cents a day, compared to as much as a dollar a day for coral calcium.
In conclusion, there’s no reason to believe coral calcium is anything magical, let alone better than other calcium sources, or worth the extra expense.