Calcium Supplements: What You Need to Know


ORLANDO, Fla. (Ivanhoe Newswire) — According to the NIH, about 43 percent of Americans take a supplement that includes calcium. Calcium is an important mineral for maintaining strong bones. But if you’re considering taking calcium supplements, there are some risks you should know about.

You may have heard that calcium supplements are a good way to improve your health. But research is showing that might not be the case. A large study out of Johns Hopkins found that taking calcium supplements can negatively affect heart health.

Erin Michos, MD, Preventive Cardiologist at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine explains, “Just using calcium supplements was independently associated with this increased risk of developing Atherosclerosis.”

Calcium supplements also cause side effects like bloating, constipation, and kidney stones. A study published in the Journal Neurology also found women who took calcium supplements were at a higher risk for developing dementia. And – Doctor Michos says the largest research to date shows inconclusive results about the benefits of taking calcium supplements to build strong bones.

“For individuals who are already meeting their recommended daily allowance, there’s no evidence that more is better, even for bone health or fracture reduction.” Says Doctor Michos.

But dietary sources of calcium do not pose the same risks.

Doctor Michos says, “I recommend for my patients, the safest thing to do is to try to get their calcium through their diet. We think that the body processes calcium very differently when it comes from food sources versus supplements.”

Foods like milk, yogurt, and almonds are high in calcium. The recommended dietary allowance of calcium for most adults is 1,000 milligrams a day. For women ages 51 and older and men ages 71 and older, it’s 1,200 milligrams.

If you have a calcium deficiency, talk to your doctor about whether taking calcium supplements could be beneficial.

Contributors to this news report include:, Producer; Roque Correa, Editor.


REPORT #3074

BACKGROUND: Calcium can be found in some foods and medications and offered as a supplement. It helps with movement by keeping tissue rigid, strong, flexible and makes up the structure of bone and teeth. It also helps the heart, muscles and nerves to function properly. Our body at birth contains 26 to 30 g of calcium and will increase to 1,200 g in women and 1,400 g in men by adulthood. It will then remain constant for men but lower for women due to decreased estrogen production at menopause. Natural dairy sources of calcium include milk, yogurt and cheese and nondairy include vegetables such as kale, broccoli, bok choi, and canned sardines and salmon with bones. Additional foods fortified with calcium: cereals, fruit juices and drinks and tofu. Your body needs Vitamin D to absorb calcium. The RDA is 600 international units of Vitamin D a day for most adults. Average calcium daily intakes from foods and beverages for men aged 20 and older was 1,083 mg and 842 mg for women. Approximately 22 percent of men and 32 percent of women take a calcium supplement.


CALCIUM SUPPLEMENTS: In supplements the most common forms are calcium carbonate and calcium citrate. Solubility rate of calcium carbonate is lower in people with low levels of stomach acid unless they are taken with a meal. Calcium citrate does not need stomach acid for absorption so it can be taken without food. However, in general the absorption rate of calcium supplements is greater when taken with food. There are also other types of calcium supplements: calcium sulfate, ascorbate, microcrystalline hydroxyapatite, gluconate, lactate and phosphate. Side effects of taking these supplements can include gastrointestinal issues, such as bloating, constipation or a combination of both. Calcium carbonate seems to cause more of these side effects than calcium citrate. Symptoms can be alleviated by taking another form of calcium, taking smaller doses more often during the day or taking your supplement with a meal. Since calcium carbonate can neutralize stomach acid, it can be found in some antacid products, such as Tums and Rolaids and provides about 270 to 400 mg of calcium. Calcium supplements are not for everyone. For someone with a condition known as hypercalcemia, that causes excess calcium in your bloodstream, you should avoid these supplements. There also may be a link between high-dose calcium supplements and heart disease and calcium and prostate cancer, but the evidence is mixed and more research is needed.

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CALCIUM DEFIICIENCY: Muscle aches, fatigue and other symptoms can be caused by low levels of calcium in the blood, called hypocalcemia. A long-term deficiency can cause alterations in the brain, dental changes, cataracts, and osteoporosis. If a deficiency is from dietary intake, there are usually no early symptoms but can lead to osteoporosis without treatment. Usually, a calcium deficiency is not from diet but a health problem like kidney failure, removal of the stomach, or use of certain medications. With a calcium deficiency you can have muscle aches, cramps, spasms, pain in thighs and arms, numbness and tingling in hands, arms, feet, legs, and around the mouth. A severe deficiency can cause convulsions, arrhythmias, and death. With low levels of calcium, you can experience extreme fatigue that can involve lightheadedness, dizziness, and brain fog and can lead to insomnia. If a calcium deficiency lasts, you can also develop dry skin, dry, broken or brittle nails, course hair, alopecia, eczema and psoriasis. Depression and dental problems like tooth decay, brittle teeth, irritated gums and weak tooth roots can also be linked to a calcium deficiency.


* For More Information, Contact:

Erin Michos, MD, MHS

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