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Thread: Low calcium?

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    Senior but far from AARP TJHOO's Avatar
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    Low calcium?

    Anyone had symptomatic hypocalcemia (low calcium)?

    I stay pretty well tanked on fluids/calories, but have noticed, only after rides of >100 miles, that hands and feet tingle when stretched. The 1st time it occurred, just wrote it off, but now has recurred; Resolves within 1-2 days.

    Drink Gatorade/Cytomax/Accelerade. They apparently have negligible amounts of calcium.

    I'm thinking of taking a couple Tums on my next ride.

    Any experience here?
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    Senior Member Chaco's Avatar
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    No experience with this myself, but I came across an interesting article about long distance cyclists. It showed that they had cardiovascular systems of teenagers, but bones of septegenarians. The culprit appears to be calcium deficiency and lack of weight training in their workout regimens.

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    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    I take electrolyte pills with a whole variety of minerals and things in them, including calcium before and during my rides, especially long hot rides. I also take calcium pills before long rides, and especially long hot rides ... when I think of it. Plus my daily multi-vitamin has calcium. And I take a lot of tums for several days once a month.

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    Senior Member Daveyboy's Avatar
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    I take a Calcium/Magnesium supplement each day along with a multi-vite. Never had the tinglies from stretching fingers and toes. I get a little numb in my left pinky finger when I forget to move my left hand around alot (and of course in the other usual spot from the saddle.)

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    Senior but far from AARP TJHOO's Avatar
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    http://www.beezodogsplace.com/Pages/...s-Cycling.html

    Excerpt (not a suggestion):

    Getting enough can be difficult for cyclists, however. Let's do some math. According to Dr. Christine Snow, director of the Oregon State University Bone Research Laboratory, an average man engaged in intense training loses 200 milligrams of calcium in sweat per hour. The recommended daily adult calcium intake (which may be upped from 1,000 to 1,200 mg) has enough padding to handle one hour of exercise, she says. A seven-hour century might sweat out 1,400 mg of calcium-more than a day's recommended intake. Averaging 12.2 hours of weekly training, the riders in Nichols' study lost 2,440 mg-two days' worth a week, year after year.
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    More info from above article: Typical energy drinks contain little, if any, calcium. Unless those cyclists each downed an extra dozen servings of milk or yogurt per week on top of an already healthy diet, the calcium they sweated out could come from only one place: their bones.
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    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TJHOO View Post
    More info from above article: Typical energy drinks contain little, if any, calcium. Unless those cyclists each downed an extra dozen servings of milk or yogurt per week on top of an already healthy diet, the calcium they sweated out could come from only one place: their bones.
    They are right ... energy drinks rarely contain much in the way of calcium (or electrolytes for that matter) ... that's one of the reasons why we take electrolyte pills.

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    Senior but far from AARP TJHOO's Avatar
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    Link to previous thread I found:

    Proper use of electrolyte pills.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Machka View Post
    They are right ... energy drinks rarely contain much in the way of calcium (or electrolytes for that matter) ... that's one of the reasons why we take electrolyte pills.
    .

    Sports drinks may not have calcium, but they do have sodium/potassium. Wonder if the combo of electrolyte pills and sports drinks could lead to excess? High potassium levels can lead to cardiac arrest.
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    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TJHOO View Post
    .

    Sports drinks may not have calcium, but they do have sodium/potassium. Wonder if the combo of electrolyte pills and sports drinks could lead to excess? High potassium levels can lead to cardiac arrest.
    They don't have much ... if you read the labels, you'll see that they've got a very minimal % Daily Value.

    One scoop of Gatorade has about 200 mg of Sodium (about 3% of Daily Value) and about 55 mg of Potassium (also about 3% of Daily Value). One scoop of HEED has about 1% of each of those.

    On my century today, I used about 4 scoops of HEED = 4% of Daily Value of each.

    My electrolyte pills have 2% DV of Sodium, and 3% DV of potassium. I took 2 of those pills today ... Total = 6% DV of Sodium, and 7% DV of potassium. We're not even into double digits yet!

    I had some chips which likely had both sodium and potassium, and there was likely sodium in the cold cuts in my sandwich, and there was potassium in the orange slices and banana pieces I ate as well ... but even with all that, I doubt my percentages were very high.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Machka View Post
    They don't have much ... if you read the labels, you'll see that they've got a very minimal % Daily Value.

    One scoop of Gatorade has about 200 mg of Sodium (about 3% of Daily Value) and about 55 mg of Potassium (also about 3% of Daily Value). One scoop of HEED has about 1% of each of those.

    On my century today, I used about 4 scoops of HEED = 4% of Daily Value of each.

    My electrolyte pills have 2% DV of Sodium, and 3% DV of potassium. I took 2 of those pills today ... Total = 6% DV of Sodium, and 7% DV of potassium. We're not even into double digits yet!

    I had some chips which likely had both sodium and potassium, and there was likely sodium in the cold cuts in my sandwich, and there was potassium in the orange slices and banana pieces I ate as well ... but even with all that, I doubt my percentages were very high.
    Good points.

    I wonder if dehydration could lead to any increase in blood levels of some of these electrolytes in some folks. If we stay well hydrated, guess that's not an issue. It's sounding like the loss of electrolytes would exceed that though. Theoretically a blood test immediately after a significant workout for each individual might tailor his/her electrolyte replacement. Kidney function is of paramount importance here.

    Anyway, I'm leaning toward using some combo of small amts of ecaps and Tums in addition to the sport drink du jour. On the road Gatorade readily available and affordable.
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    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TJHOO View Post
    Good points.

    I wonder if dehydration could lead to any increase in blood levels of some of these electrolytes in some folks. If we stay well hydrated, guess that's not an issue. It's sounding like the loss of electrolytes would exceed that though. Theoretically a blood test immediately after a significant workout for each individual might tailor his/her electrolyte replacement. Kidney function is of paramount importance here.

    Anyway, I'm leaning toward using some combo of small amts of ecaps and Tums in addition to the sport drink du jour. On the road Gatorade readily available and affordable.
    The thing is ... I was going to add this before but the forum went down last night ... the reason why cyclists (and other people who exercise) need increased intake of electrolytes is because we sweat them out. You know when you come in from a hot ride and your black shorts have turned white ... those white deposits are electrolytes (mainly sodium).

    Browse through the UMCA (Ultracycling Site) ... they've got some good articles on electrolytes, hydration etc.

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    Professional Fuss-Budget Bacciagalupe's Avatar
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    To add to the above discussion... Yes you will sweat out calcium. In addition, cycling is not a weight-bearing exercise, thus it does not strengthen your bones. If you are doing LD rides and 90% of your training is just cycling, eventually this may cause / aggravate osteoporosis. So it's a long-term issue.

    Supplements are a good idea, although I believe your body is more likely to properly absorb nutrients from food rather than pills.

    Also your body can only absorb 500mg of calcium in one dose. So one big megadose in the morning will not cut it.

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    Senior but far from AARP TJHOO's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bacciagalupe View Post

    Supplements are a good idea, although I believe your body is more likely to properly absorb nutrients from food rather than pills.

    Also your body can only absorb 500mg of calcium in one dose. So one big megadose in the morning will not cut it.
    where did you learn of the 500 mg absorbable calcium limit?
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    Senior Member Chaco's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bacciagalupe View Post
    In addition, cycling is not a weight-bearing exercise, thus it does not strengthen your bones. If you are doing LD rides and 90% of your training is just cycling, eventually this may cause / aggravate osteoporosis. So it's a long-term issue.
    That's why I do weight lifting 3 times a week, even though it does not "help' my cycling. But it does make a difference in my overall health.

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    Professional Fuss-Budget Bacciagalupe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TJHOO View Post
    where did you learn of the 500 mg absorbable calcium limit?
    IIRC I first heard about that bit from a Velonews article on the topic:

    http://www.velonews.com/train/articles/5489.0.html

    Scroll down a bit, it's maybe 1/2 way through the article.

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    aspiring Old Wart Sluggo's Avatar
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    I have never had the symptoms you describe, but I was having a terrible time with cramping on long rides until I started taking a daily calcium supplement.

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    Senior Member Richard Cranium's Avatar
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    I'm thinking of taking a couple Tums on my next ride. Any experience here?
    You may want to review a few fundamentals of nutrition.

    If indeed you have a calcium deficiency, your diet or your exercise may have little to do with it. And if indeed you have calcium deficiency, simply taking Tums, or other calcium supplements is unlikely to do much to rectify it.

    A better strategy for good health, regardless of "tingling symptoms" is to focus on eating healthy, balanced meals all the time. If you still feel the need to supplement, then take a brand name supplement that contains a mix of calcium and vitamin D. If you want get the most out of the supplements, then take smaller doses, several times a day, especially while exercising and or when eating.

    Since there is little danger in taking calcium supplements -go ahead. But if you really want to know whether or not you have a "problem" - you need to see a professional, and even then, you may not get the answers you want.

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    Senior but far from AARP TJHOO's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Richard Cranium View Post
    You may want to review a few fundamentals of nutrition.

    If indeed you have a calcium deficiency, your diet or your exercise may have little to do with it. And if indeed you have calcium deficiency, simply taking Tums, or other calcium supplements is unlikely to do much to rectify it.

    A better strategy for good health, regardless of "tingling symptoms" is to focus on eating healthy, balanced meals all the time. If you still feel the need to supplement, then take a brand name supplement that contains a mix of calcium and vitamin D. If you want get the most out of the supplements, then take smaller doses, several times a day, especially while exercising and or when eating.

    Since there is little danger in taking calcium supplements -go ahead. But if you really want to know whether or not you have a "problem" - you need to see a professional, and even then, you may not get the answers you want.
    OK, tried for a week prior to century this past weekend
    -calcium/VitD abs 600mg three times a day
    -magnesium 250 twice a day

    Preride breakfast
    -12 egg whites w/ cheese/olive oil/salt
    -corn flakes/milk

    During the ride
    -Accelerade to start the ride (2 bottles 28oz each)
    -Gatorade/V8 juice (easy to find at convenience stores)
    -Calcium tabs 600 mg about every 2 hrs
    -Larabar x 1
    -Peakbar x 1
    -Hammer gel x 2 flasks = 8-10 packets

    This was on a relatively hot day eg 90 degrees; not too hot, but very humid. No cramps during or after ride. No tingling of extremities as after previous long hot rides. After the ride was definitely less physically drained and mentally sharper than previous similar rides. I think the more notable difference was the quicker recovery than usual.

    Think I may start drinking tomato/V8 juice prior to all rides now.
    This am tried it for short fast ride, and had best time on familiar course this year.

    No recommendations here. YMMV. Perhaps check w/ your doctor before implementing any changes.
    Last edited by TJHOO; 08-01-07 at 08:59 AM.
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