chromosomes connecting calcium supplements to bones and vitamins to eyes

More on Calcium: What My Genetic Counselor Said About It

After reading the research about calcium in the article "What’s the Verdict on Calcium and AMD?" I remembered something important my genetic counselor told me about calcium.

Is calcium good for your eyes?

The results of the findings in the studies mentioned in the above article discussed whether or not calcium was healthy for our eyes. Something that I think is really important and worth mentioning is that if not taken properly, calcium has been found to hinder the absorption of other nutrients that we take through our vitamin supplements and through our diet.

I was specifically told by my genetic counselor (who works specifically with AMD and AREDS supplements) that I should not take a calcium supplement with my other supplements. The keyword here being ‘with’...let me explain.

Calcium and AREDS 2

When taken as a supplement, calcium is generally ingested in large amounts (several hundred milligrams). Other supplements taken for AMD are usually taken at much lower ‘doses’...just a few milligrams. Take the AREDS2 formula, for example.

When taking AREDS supplements, you are ingesting 2 mg of copper (as cupric oxide), 10 mg of lutein, and 2 mg of zeaxanthin. Naturally, taking several hundred mg of calcium at the same time is going to compete with and reduce the absorption of these other nutrients. Our bodies can only handle so much at once.

Choosing not to take calcium supplements

Because of this, I made the personal decision to not take a calcium supplement at this stage of my life. That does not mean that is the right decision for you. We each have our own needs along our health journeys.

Taking supplements and eating food with calcium

I personally get enough calcium in my diet and want to be sure that my eye-healthy vitamins are being absorbed to their maximum potential. My children, however, do take a daily multivitamin with calcium in it because that is age-appropriate for them. They (and their bones) are growing right now and that is important to their overall health. They also don’t take supplements containing like lutein and zeaxanthin yet, but I make sure they eat as many foods as they can that contain those nutrients for their eye health.

We're all different

Again, we are all in different stages of our lives and in different stages of our macular degeneration. Some of us are also battling other things on top of macular degeneration that require their own attention and care. We don’t all eat the same food or live the same lifestyle. Some of us exercise more than others and some really know how to get a good night’s rest (not me!). All of this plays a role in the health of our eyes.

Knowledge is powerful when making decisions for your eyes

It’s important to remember all of these things when deciding what to do for ourselves, personally, in regards to our health. Knowledge, however, can be very powerful for each of us when it comes to any disease. That’s why I’m here! I want to help guide each of you toward as much knowledge as I can. Especially when it comes to food and nutrient supplementation, so you can make the best choices for your own unique health needs.

Calcium recommendations

If you want or need to take a calcium supplement, that is definitely okay. I might suggest, however, chatting with your doctor about ‘when’ to take your supplements so they can all be absorbed to their full potential. Maybe taking one with breakfast and the other with dinner would allow this to happen. Another option would be taking eye-healthy vitamins daily, as recommended and taking calcium less frequently.

Genetic counseling and testing

You may be wondering how I was lucky enough to get free genetic counseling. As a perk of getting the ArticDx genetic testing done, you get to talk to a genetic counselor after getting your results. This is a great thing! Sometimes results like these are hard to read and understand, and results of any kind tend to generate many questions. With the knowledge of a genetic counselor, you don’t have to try to figure everything out alone!

Talking about eye supplements with a genetic counselor

When on the phone, after receiving the results of my ArcticDx test, my genetic counselor and I were reviewing all of the vitamin supplements I am taking (as well as the age-appropriate supplements my kids are taking).

This is another huge benefit of getting this test done.

How genetic testing has helped me with my macular degeneration

This is where he noticed I was taking a calcium supplement and we had a very important discussion about it. I am so very thankful for this genetic test...it has been one of the most educational aspects of my macular degeneration journey and has more than likely ‘saved’ my vision in ways I will never be able to fully understand.

ArcticDx genetic testing

I could tell that this company simply wants to help people struggling with macular degeneration. I never once felt like they were a business or trying to make money off of me. They aren’t in competition with any other company, as they are the single way to get this type of genetic testing done. My testing only cost me an insurance copay.

My genetic counselor took his time explaining things to me in a way that I could understand, and patiently answered all of my questions (about myself and my children based on what he knew about my genetics). If you have the opportunity to take this test, I highly recommend it.

Moral of the story, know your needs. Knowledge is everything!

Be well,

Andrea Junge

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