Calcium and Calcium Supplements: Achieving the Right Balance


Calcium and Calcium Supplements: Achieving the Right Balance

Calcium is essential for bone health. Know how much calcium you need and how to get it.

Calcium and Calcium Supplements: Achieving the Right Balance

Calcium is essential for optimal bone health throughout your life. Although diet is the best way to get calcium, calcium supplements may be an option if your diet is deficient.

Before considering the use of calcium supplements, make sure you know how much calcium you want, the pros and cons of calcium supplements, and which type of supplement to choose.

Calcium benefits

Your body needs calcium to build and maintain strong bones. Your heart, muscles, and nerves also need calcium to function properly.

Some studies have suggested that calcium and vitamin D may have more benefits than good bone health: they may protect against cancer, diabetes, and high blood pressure. But there is no conclusive evidence to prove these health benefits.

Calcium deficiency risks

If you don't get enough calcium, you may experience health problems related to weak bones:

  • Children may not reach potential full-body growth by puberty.
  • For adults, it may have poor bone mass; Which exposes them to a risk factor for osteoporosis.

Many Americans don't get enough calcium in their diets. Children and teenage girls are especially at risk, as are the elderly 50 and over.

Calcium requirements

The amount of calcium you need depends on your age and gender. Note that the maximum in the table represents the safety limit, not the amount you aim to get. If you exceed the limit, you may increase your risk of health problems related to excess calcium.

Calcium: Recommended Amounts (RDA) for adults
MenThe recommended amount per dayMax per day
19-50 years old1000 mg2500 mg
51-70 years old1000 mg2000 mg
71 years and older1200 mg2000 mg
WomenThe recommended amount per dayMax per day
19-50 years old1000 mg2500 mg
51 years and older1200 mg2000 mg

Calcium and diet

Your body does not produce calcium, so you must get it from other sourcesYou can get calcium from many types of foods, including:

  • Dairy products, such as cheese, milk, and yogurt.
  • Dark green leafy vegetables, such as broccoli and cabbage.
  • Fish with thin, edible bones, such as sardines and canned salmon.
  • Calcium-rich foods and drinks, such as soy products, cereals, fruit juices, and milk substitutes.

To absorb calcium, your body also needs vitamin DFew foods naturally contain small amounts of vitamin D, such as canned, boneless salmon, and egg yolks. You can also get vitamin D from foods rich in it and through exposure to the sun. The RDA for vitamin D is 600 international units (15 micrograms) per day for most adults.

Who should use calcium supplements?

You may find it difficult to get enough calcium if you eat a healthy diet and eat a balanced diet:

  • Follow a purely vegetarian diet.
  • Suffering from lactose intolerance, and access to limited dairy products.
  • consuming large amounts of protein or sodium; can cause your body to excrete more calcium.
  • Osteoporosis.
  • Take a long-term treatment that includes corticosteroids.
  • Suffering from certain diseases of the intestines or digestive systemreduces your ability to absorb calcium, such as with inflammatory bowel disease or celiac disease.

In these cases, calcium supplements may help you get the required amounts of calcium. Talk to your doctor or dietitian to determine if calcium supplements are right for you.

Do calcium supplements have risks?

Calcium supplements are not suitable for everyone. For example, if you have a condition that causes excess calcium in your bloodstream ( hypercalcemia ), you should avoid calcium supplements.

This is not definitive, but there may be an association between calcium supplementation and heart diseaseBut the evidence for this is conflicting, and more research is needed before doctors know what effect calcium supplements might have on heart attack risk.

The same argument includes calcium and prostate cancer. Some studies have shown that high calcium intake in dairy products and supplements may increase risk, while another, more recent study, shows no increased risk of prostate cancer about total calcium or calcium available. From food or taking calcium supplements.

Until more is known about these potential risks, it's important to be careful to avoid excessive amounts of calcium. As with any other health problem, you must speak with your doctor to determine what is right for you.

Types of Calcium Supplements

Many different types of calcium compounds are available in calcium supplements. Each compound contains varying amounts of dietary mineral calcium, referred to as essential calcium. Common calcium supplements may be defined as:

  • Calcium carbonate (40 percent elemental calcium).
  • Calcium citrate (21 percent elemental calcium).
  • Calcium gluconate (9 percent elemental calcium).
  • Calcium lactate (13 percent elemental calcium).

The two main ingredients in calcium supplements are carbonate and citrate. Calcium carbonate is the cheapest, and therefore often a good first choice. Other calcium components in supplements include gluconate and lactate.

In addition, some calcium supplements are combined with other vitamins and minerals. For example, some calcium supplements may also contain vitamin D or magnesium. Check the ingredients list to see which calcium supplement is in your calcium supplement, and what other nutrients it may contain. This information is essential if you have any health or diet issues.

Choosing a calcium supplement

When looking for calcium supplements, consider the following factors:

Calcium amount

Primary calcium is a key factor because it represents the actual amount of calcium in the supplement, it is what your body absorbs for your bone growth and has other health benefits. The nutrient label on calcium supplements is useful in determining how much calcium is available in one serving.

For example, calcium carbonate contains 40 percent elemental calcium, so 1,250 mg of calcium carbonate contains 500 mg of elemental calcium. Be sure to note your serving size (number of tablets) when determining how much calcium is in one serving.


Calcium supplements cause a limited number of side effects, and they may not appear at all, but side effects may occasionally occur and include gas, constipation, and bloating. In general, sodium carbonate is the most common food supplement that causes constipation. You may need to try a few different brands or types of calcium supplements to find the one you can best tolerate.

Medicines you are taking

Calcium supplements may interact with many different prescription medications including blood pressure medications, synthetic parathyroid hormone, bisphosphonates, antibiotics, and calcium channel blockers. Depending on which medications you take, you may need to take the supplement with your meals or between meals.

Ask your doctor or pharmacist about possible interactions and which type of calcium supplement is best for you.

Quality and cost

Manufacturers are responsible for ensuring that supplements are safe and genuinely prescribed. Some companies independently test their products by the US Pharmacopeial Convention (USP), (CL), or the National Science Foundation International (NSF).

Supplements marked with the USP, CL, or NSF abbreviation meet optional industry standards for quality, purity, potency, and tablet disintegration or dissolution, and prices for calcium supplements vary. Compare prices if cost is important to you.

Pharmaceutical form of the food ingredient

Calcium supplements come in a variety of forms, including tablets, capsules, chewable, liquids, and powders. If you have trouble swallowing pills, you may need a chewable or liquid calcium supplement.

Absorption capacity

Your body must be able to absorb calcium to be effective, and all types of calcium supplements are best absorbed when taken in small doses (500 mg or less) at mealtimes. Calcium citrate is absorbed just as effective when taken with or without food and is a recommended supplement for people with low stomach acid (more common in people over 50 years of age or taking antacids than others) or those with From inflammation in the intestines or absorption disorders.

Do not overdo your calcium supplement

Dietary calcium is generally safe, but eating more isn't necessarily better, and extra calcium doesn't provide more bone protection.

If you take calcium supplements and calcium-rich foods, you may get more calcium than you expect. Check labels on foods and supplements to monitor your total daily calcium intake, and whether or not you're getting the recommended dietary allowance, but not exceeding the recommended maximum. Furthermore, be sure to tell your doctor if you are taking any calcium supplements.