• Liyan Lu

Calcium Supplements

Updated: Sep 23

According to the Arthritis Foundation (http://www.arthritis.org), in 2012, researchers found that taking calcium supplements nearly doubled the risk of a heart attack. The calcium from supplements may be problematic for the cardiovascular system because it causes a spike in blood calcium levels versus the gradual rise when getting calcium from food. However, many people depend on calcium supplements to prevent osteoporosis, especially rheumatoid arthritis and other inflammatory diseases. People are at increased risk of developing osteoporosis for various reasons, including corticosteroid use and limited activity. The benefit of calcium supplementation might outweigh the potential heart risk. Try to get as much calcium through your diet as you can. (http://nof.org/articles/886) has a guide to calcium-rich foods) and ask your doctor before taking a calcium supplement.

Some Tips to know before taking calcium supplements:

1. Understand how much calcium you are getting through your diet before taking supplements. Too much calcium intake may increase the risk of kidney stones and heart attack.

2. Take several smaller doses of calcium per day because your body can absorb only 500 mg at a time.

3. Take calcium supplements with vitamin D, which helps the body use calcium efficiently.

Elemental calcium is a term used in dietary supplement ingredient lists to refer to the amount of calcium in a product for the body’s daily value (need calcium 1000mg per day). Three popular types of elemental calcium:

1. Calcium citrate is most easily absorbed, needs to be taken before a meal. It is a choice for patients taking multiple medications.

2. Calcium carbonate that you should take with meals or a glass of orange juice. It may cause gas or constipation and is the least expensive.

3. Calcium phosphate is easily absorbed, does not cause gas or constipation, but it’s not the most commonly used form.

Precautions: Don’t take more than 1,200 mg of calcium (in supplement form) a day unless instructed by a doctor or dietitian. Also, avoid taking calcium supplements and medications together because calcium can block some meds’ absorption. Coral and oyster-shell calcium products may contain lead, so you should not take them.

Suggestion: Calcium citrate 250 mg with Vitamin D3 400 IU once to twice a day if your doctor recommends you take a calcium supplement.

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