Prelief, Calcium Glycerophosphate and Interstitial Cystitis
In this month’s blog post I want to talk about the role of Prelief® or calcium glycerophosphate in managing symptoms of interstitial cystitis.
Let’s begin with some questions that I am often asked:
- Are Prelief and calcium glycerophosphate the same thing?
- Does Prelief help with interstitial cystitis?
- Does your Simply Calci-G do the same as…?
- How often can I take Prelief/calcium glycerophosphate?
Firstly, yes, Prelief and calcium glycerophosphate are pretty much the same thing. Prelief is the brand name of a range of products that utilise calcium glycerophosphate as the active ingredient. These products are made in the United States by a company called AK Pharma and they have medical food status, meaning they are not required to display ingredients information in the same way as food supplements and are legally allowed to make claims about their use in the management of interstitial cystitis. By contrast, food supplements must display a supplement facts table, an ingredients list, and may not claim to treat any disease or health condition.
Prelief offers products in powder and caplet form. As far as I can tell, each caplet contains 345mg of calcium glycerophosphate and 0.25% magnesium stearate, but this information does not come from the official Prelief website, so don’t quote me on that! Until fairly recently, Prelief was a patented product meaning that nobody else could offer calcium glycerophosphate based products intended for use in interstitial cystitis. The patent has now expired and a few years ago another company began making its own calcium glycerophosphate product. Tiny Pioneer now also makes a calcium glycerophosphate product called Simply Calci-G. In essence then, Prelief is to calcium glycerophosphate what Panadol is to paracetamol or what Cadbury Dairy Milk is to milk chocolate.
When taken orally, it is thought that calcium glycerophosphate is able to neutralise acids in foods and beverages without affecting stomach acid. This means that people suffering from health conditions exacerbated by dietary acid might experience symptomatic relief if they take calcium glycerophosphate with acidic meals or drinks. People with interstitial cystitis commonly find that coffee, alcohol, tomatoes and orange juice cause flare ups of bladder pain; in fact for many sufferers, a wide range of foods can trigger symptoms. In cases like this, using calcium glycerophosphate can be helpful in providing relief from symptoms – hence, one supposes, Prelief’s choice of brand name! Prelief has this interesting table on its website that shows the percentage of acid that is neutralised for a range of different foods.
Although Prelief and calcium glycerophosphate products in general might provide symptomatic relief from food-induced symptoms of interstitial cystitis, they can also be used for other conditions that are aggravated by dietary acids. These include prostatitis, over-active bladder, heartburn and digestive discomfort. I was interested to learn that calcium glycerophosphate might also help to preserve epithelial integrity in the gut – in other words, it might be helpful in addressing intestinal permeability, also known as leaky gut.
While Prelief and calcium glycerophosphate might help manage symptoms of interstitial cystitis triggered by dietary acid, it is worth noting that they don’t do anything to address the underlying cause of the problem. Prelief is not a cure for interstitial cystitis – it simply helps to reduce symptoms. If you were to stop taking it and continue to consume acidic foods and drinks, your symptoms would return.
I have never used branded Prelief as it is an American product and is sometimes difficult to get hold of in the UK, although you can sometimes pick it up on Amazon. I have, however, used two different brands of calcium glycerophosphate, one being our very own Simply Calci-G. While I am fortunate not to have interstitial cystitis, I do have quite a sensitive bladder and I find that strawberries and coffee can aggravate it a bit and make me feel slightly PGAD-y as well. I don’t drink coffee very often, but if ever I do, I have a Simply Calci-G capsule with it and I am fine. I enjoy strawberries more frequently, especially in summer, and if I forget to take a Calci-G with them I can always tell an hour or so later! Luckily, I find that taking one after the fact works quite quickly as well. If ever I am having one of those days where my bladder simply feels a bit aggravated for no particular reason, I also find that two Simply Calci-G and two Aloe 200 Capsules work well together to calm things down.
To answer questions two and three from the top of the page then:
- Yes, Prelief can be helpful in managing symptoms of interstitial cystitis.
- Simply Calci-G contains only calcium glycerophosphate, so while I’m not allowed to make medical claims about it or compare it to other brands, I can confirm that it is made of 250mg of calcium glycerophosphate per HPMC vegan capsule and nothing else.
You can take Prelief or calcium glycerophosphate with every meal if you want to. I cannot advise on the specific dosing protocol for Prelief, as that is a matter for the manufacturer. Our own Simply Calci-G has a serving size of 1-2 capsules (your personal choice depending on your own symptoms) and it is up to you whether you take it with every meal or only with trigger meals. I personally only use it occasionally, but that is because I only need to use it occasionally! If you find that almost every meal causes a flare up of symptoms then you might decide to use Calci-G on a more regular basis, although in that case I’d certainly recommend a FoodPrint200+ test from CNS Labs to see if you can do more to address the root cause of your issues too.
I am sometimes asked if our calcium glycerophosphate capsules can be used as a calcium supplement in case of calcium deficiency. The answer to this is that yes, it can, but it really doesn’t provide very much elemental calcium. Although calcium glycerophosphate is highly bioavailable and is considered such a gentle form of calcium that it is used in fortifying milk for premature babies, it does not have a high elemental yield. Only about 18% of calcium glycerophosphate is actual calcium, so one of our 250mg Calci-G capsules only provides 45mg of calcium. Even if you were taking six a day (two with each meal) that would still only give you 270mg of calcium, which is only 33.6% of the EU NRV. If you are actually trying to correct a calcium deficiency, you will probably want a higher strength supplement than this. I am considering making a higher strength calcium glycerophosphate product that can be used more as a calcium supplement, but I’m not sure if there would be any call for it. Let me know what you think!
The only concerns I have about calcium glycerophosphate are these:
- Although it is said to work on the food and not the stomach acid, nobody ever explains by what mechanism this occurs. If you are someone who suffers with digestive issues that are the result of low stomach acid, I am not sure how well you would tolerate calcium glycerophosphate on a regular basis. I myself only use it on an occasional basis, so I have no personal experience of using it on a regular, long-term basis.
- I hope that people will use calcium glycerophosphate sensibly as part of a healthy diet and lifestyle and will not routinely use it to offset poor food and beverage choices. I’d hate for people to continue to eat or drink things on a daily basis that they know aggravate their bladder and think that it doesn’t matter because calcium glycerophosphate will stop it from hurting. It is much more sensible to try to avoid things that provoke bladder symptoms, where possible. With that being said, everyone wants to enjoy a favourite food or drink sometimes and there will be times where travel or work make adhering to strict dietary regimes more difficult than usual. Also, as everyone with a chronic health issue will know, you can do everything right and still sometimes experience flare ups. At such times, anything that provides symptomatic relief can be a godsend! I would just encourage responsible use of calcium glycerophosphate as part of a healthy diet and lifestyle.
Okay, I hope that answers some of your questions about Prelief, calcium glycerophosphate and interstitial cystitis!
Until next time,
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