Calcium and supplements: Achieving the right balance

Calcium is important for bone health. See how much you need and how to get it.

By Mayo Clinic Staff

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

Before you consider calcium supplements, be sure you understand how much calcium you require, the pros and cons of calcium mineral supplements, plus which type of supplement to choose.

The benefits of calcium

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

Some studies suggest that calcium supplements, along with vitamin D, might have benefits beyond bone tissue health: perhaps protecting against cancer, diabetes and high blood pressure. But evidence about such health benefits is not definitive.

The particular risks associated with too little calcium

If you don’t get enough calcium, you could face health problems related to weak bones:

  • Children may possibly not reach their full potential adult height.
  • Adults may have low bone tissue mass, which is a risk factor for osteoporosis.

Many Americans don’t get enough lime in their diets. Children and adolescents are at risk, but so are adults age 50 and older.

Calcium requirements

How a lot calcium a person need depends on your age and sex.

Calcium mineral: Recommended daily amount
19-50 years 1, 000 mg
51-70 years 1, 000 mg
71 and older 1, 200 mg
19-50 years one, 000 magnesium
51 and older 1, 200 mg

The recommended upper limit for calcium is 2, 500 mg a day for adults 19 to 50. For those 51 plus older, the limit will be 2, 500 mg a day.

Calcium in addition to diet

Your body doesn’t produce calcium, so you must get it through other sources. Calcium can be found in a variety of foods, including:

  • Dairy products, such as cheese, milk and even yogurt
  • Dark green leafy vegetables, like broccoli together with kale
  • Fish with edible soft bones, such as sardines and additionally canned salmon
  • Calcium-fortified food items and beverages, for example soy products, cereal and fruit juices, not to mention milk substitutes

To absorb calcium, your body also needs vitamin D. A few meals naturally contain small amounts of vitamin D, such as canned salmon with bones and also egg yolks. You can also get vitamin Deb from fortified foods as well as sun exposure. The RDA for vitamin D is usually 600 international units (15 micrograms) each day for most adults.

Who should consider calcium supplements?

Even if you eat the healthy, balanced diet, you may find it difficult in order to get enough calcium if you:

  • Follow a vegan diet
  • Have lactose intolerance and limit dairy items
  • Consume large amounts associated with protein or sodium, which can cause the body to excrete more calcium mineral
  • Are receiving long-term treatment with corticosteroids
  • Have certain bowel or even digestive diseases that decrease your ability to be able to absorb calcium supplement, for instance inflammatory bowel disease or celiac illness

In these situations, calcium supplements may help a person meet your calcium requirements. Talk along with your doctor or perhaps dietitian about whether calcium supplements are right with regard to you.

Do calcium supplements have risks?

Calcium supplements are n’t for everyone. For instance, if you have a health condition that causes excess lime in your own bloodstream (hypercalcemia), you should avoid supplements.

It’s not definitive, but there may be a link between high-dose calcium supplements and heart disease. The particular evidence is definitely mixed and more research can be needed before doctors know the effect calcium dietary supplements may have on heart attack risk.

A similar controversy surrounds limescale and prostate cancer. Some studies have shown that high calcium intake from dairy products plus supplements might increase danger, whereas another more recent study showed no increased risk of prostatic cancer associated with total calcium, dietary calcium or maybe supplemental lime scale intakes.

Until more is known about these possible dangers, it’s important to be careful for you to avoid excessive amounts of ca (symbol). As with any health issue, you need to talk to help your doctor to determine what’s right for an individual.

Types of kalzium supplements

Several different kinds regarding calcium compounds are used in supplements. Each compound contains varying amounts of calcium — referred to as elemental calcium mineral. Common calcium supplements may be labeled as:

  • Calcium carbonate (40% elemental calcium)
  • Calcium citrate (21% elemental calcium)
  • Calcium gluconate (9% much needed calcium)
  • Calcium mineral lactate (13% elemental calcium)

Typically the two main forms involving calcium supplements are carbonate and citrate. Calcium carbonate is cheapest and therefore often a good first choice. Other forms connected with calcium in supplements include gluconate in addition to lactate.

In addition , some supplements are combined with vitamins and other minerals. For instance, some calcium supplements may possibly also consist of vitamin M or magnesium. Check the ingredient list to see which form with calcium your current calcium supplement is and what other nutrients it may well contain. This information is important if anyone have any health as well as dietary concerns.

Choosing supplements

When looking at calcium supplements, consider these types of factors:

Amount of calcium

Elemental calcium is important because it’s the actual amount for calcium inside the supplement. It’s what your body absorbs for bone growth along with other health benefits. The Supplement Facts label on calcium supplement supplements is helpful in determining how much calcium is certainly in one serving. As an example, calcium carbonate is 40% elemental calcium supplements, so one, 250 milligrams (mg) about calcium carbonate contains five hundred mg in elemental lime. Be sure to note the serving size (number from tablets) when determining how much calcium is in one serving.


Calcium supplements cause few, if any kind of, side effects. But side effects can sometimes occur, including gas, constipation and bloating. In general, calcium carbonate is the most constipating. You may need to try a few different brands or types of calcium health supplements to find 1 that you tolerate the best.

What prescriptions you take

Calcium products can interact with many different prescription medications, including blood pressure medicines, synthetic thyroid hormones, bisphosphonates, antibiotics and even calcium channel blockers. Depending on your drugs, you could need in order to take the product with your meals or between meals. Ask your physician or pharmacist regarding possible interactions and which usually type of calcium supplement would work regarding you.

Quality and cost

Manufacturers are responsible for ensuring that supplements are safe together with claims are usually truthful. A few companies have their products independently tested by U. S. Pharmacopeial Convention (USP), ConsumerLab. com (CL) or NSF International. Supplements that bear the USP , CL or NSF abbreviation meet voluntary industry standards intended for quality, purity, potency, and additionally tablet disintegration or dissolution. Different types of supplements have different costs. Comparison shop if cost is a factor to get you.

Product form

Supplements are available in a variety of forms, including tablets, capsules, chews, liquids not to mention powders. If you have trouble swallowing pills, a person may want a chewable or liquid calcium supplement.


The body must be able to absorb the particular calcium for it to end up being effective. All varieties associated with calcium supplements are better absorbed whenever taken found in small doses (500 magnesium or less) at mealtimes. Calcium citrate is absorbed equally well when taken with or without food and is a form recommended for individuals with low stomach acid (more common in people over 50 or even taking acid blockers), inflamed bowel condition or absorption disorders.

More isn’t always better: Too much limescale has hazards

Dietary calcium mineral is generally safe, but more isn’t necessarily better, and also excessive lime scale doesn’t provide extra bone tissue protection.

If you take calcium supplements and eat calcium-fortified food, you may be getting more ca (symbol) than an individual realize. Check food and product labels to be able to monitor just how much total kalzium you’re getting a day as well as whether you’re achieving typically the RDA yet not exceeding the recommended upper control. Be certain to tell your doctor if you’re taking calcium supplements.


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Feb. 26, 2022

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