Supplement Forms/Alternate Names
- Calcium Aspartate
- Calcium Carbonate
- Calcium Chelate
- Calcium Citrate
- Calcium Citrate Malate
- Calcium Gluconate
- Calcium Lactate
- Calcium Orotate
- Oyster Shell Calcium
- Tricalcium Phosphate
Calcium is the most abundant mineral in the body, making up nearly 2% of total body weight. More than 99% of the calcium in your body is found in your bones, but the other 1% is perhaps just as important for good health. Many enzymes depend on calcium in order to work properly, as do your nerves, heart, and blood-clotting mechanisms.
One of the most important uses of calcium is to help prevent and treat osteoporosis, the progressive loss of bone mass to which menopausal women are especially vulnerable. Calcium works best when combined with vitamin D.
Other meaningful evidence suggests that calcium may have an additional important use: reducing PMS symptoms.
- 0-6 months: 200 mg
- 7-12 months: 260 mg
- 1-3 years: 700 mg
- 4-8 years: 1,000 mg
- 9-18 years: 1,300 mg
- 19-50 years: 1,000 mg
- Males: 1,000 mg
- Females: 1,200 mg
- 71 and older: 1,200 mg
The recommendations for women who are pregnant or nursing are:
- Under 19 years: 1,300 mg
- 19 years and older: 1,000 mg
In addition to food sources, many forms of calcium supplements are available on the market, each with its own advantages and disadvantages.
To absorb calcium, your body also needs an adequate level of vitamin D (for more information, see the article on Vitamin D ).
Naturally Derived Forms of Calcium
Refined Calcium Carbonate
Chelated calcium is calcium bound to an organic acid (citrate, citrate malate, lactate, gluconate, aspartate, or orotate). The chelated forms of calcium offer some significant advantages and disadvantages compared with calcium carbonate.
Chelated calcium is much more expensive and bulkier than calcium carbonate. In other words, you have to take larger pills, and more of them, to get enough calcium. It is not at all uncommon to need to take five or six large capsules daily to supply the necessary amount, a quantity some people may find troublesome.
Unlike some supplements, calcium is not taken at extra high doses for special therapeutic benefit. Rather, for all its uses, it should be taken in the amounts listed under Requirements/Sources, along with the recommended level of vitamin D. (See the article on vitamin D for proper dosage amounts.)
Finally, calcium is also sometimes recommended for attention deficit disorder , migraine headaches , and periodontal disease , but there is as yet no meaningful evidence that it is effective for these conditions.
What Is the Scientific Evidence for Calcium?
Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)
Note: If you have cancer, hyperparathyroidism, or sarcoidosis, you should take calcium only under a physician's supervision.
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Interactions You Should Know About
- You may need more calcium if you are taking:
- If you are taking aluminum hydroxide , you should take calcium citrate at least 2 hours apart to avoid increasing aluminum absorption.
- You may need more calcium if you are taking the following anticonvulsants:
- If you are taking the following medications, you should take your calcium supplement at least 2 hours before or after your dose of medication because calcium interferes with the absorption (and vice versa):
- Do not take extra calcium except on the advice of a physician if you are taking Thiazide diuretics .
- Do not take calcium together with high-dose vitamin D except on the advice of a physician if you are taking calcium channel blockers .
- You may need extra calcium if you are taking:
- It may be advisable to wait 2 hours after taking calcium supplements to eat soy (or vice versa). A constituent of soy called phytic acid can interfere with the absorption of calcium.
- Taking supplemental calcium may be helpful if you are taking metformin .
- Reviewer: EBSCO CAM Review Board
- Review Date: 09/2014 -
- Update Date: 09/18/2014 -