The Ultimate Guide to Calcium Supplements

April 15, 2009


I had a patient with digestive problems who took pure calcium supplements for 20 years. By the time she was fifty-five years old, she had osteoporosis. She came to me in confusion, “Why did this happen to me? I took those huge calcium pills for two decades!”

The reason is: you can takes tons of calcium supplements, but if you have a chronic digestive disorder, your body can’t absorb it all. Read on to find the facts about calcium, plus the secret formula for maximum calcium absorption.

How much calcium should I take?
Daily calcium supplements that contain up to 1,500 mg are appropriate for most people. The National Academy of Sciences recommends:

  • 1,300 mg for adolescents 9 to 18 years of age,
  • 1,000 mg for adults ages 19 to 50, and
  • 1,200 mg for adults over 50.

What type of calcium supplements should I take?
Calcium citrate is easily absorbed; it’s a good choice for people with poor digestion, low stomach acid and kidney problems.
Calcium carbonate is an easily accessible supplement found in anti-acid products (e.g.Tums), but is not a good choice for patients with digestive problems.

When should I take calcium supplements?
Take supplements with meals 2-3x daily. This helps maximize your calcium absorption.

Leg cramps? Take calcium before bed.
If you suffer from leg cramps or insomnia and use calcium supplements as a neuromuscular relaxant, your daily amount should be taken right before you go to sleep.

How to Combine Supplements with Calcium for Maximum Effect

Add Magnesium to Prevent Constipation.
Calcium supplements may cause constipation, so combine them with magnesium. A good ratio is 2:1 (calcium:magnesium). If constipation persists, increase magnesium levels until bowel movements are regular. Good sources of magnesium include citrate, chelate, or gluconate.

Add Vitamins C and D for the Ultimate Bone-Building Formula.
Vitamins C and D also improve calcium absorption, and should be part of your Calcium/Magnesium combo.

In sum, take 1000 mg of calcium + 500mg of magnesium + 800 IU of Vitamin D + at least 40 mg of vitamin C.

This formula is especially important if you take corticosteroids. Steroids impair calcium absorption, eventually resulting in brittle bones and, finally, steroid-induced osteoporosis.

Consult with your doctor before taking calcium supplements, as some may interfere with certain medications, including tetracycline and thyroid hormones.

4 Responses

  1. I have had problems with my stomach for years now and find it difficult to absorb calcium. I suffer with candida and also have a tendency to be over acidic. Pretty much tried everything but I still have problems with bone loss around my teeth and just can’t seem to stop it. I had osteochondritus (bone softening) when I was an adolescent which indicates to me that there is some deep problem with calcium utilisation. I am now looking at thyroid issues – any suggestions?

  2. Hi there, had breast cancer, onc has recc’d 1500 mg. calcium daily, along with 1,000 D and weight bearing exercise as I am on arimidex, notorious for leaching calcium and also had a hysterectomy, same issue.

    I am told only 500 mg. can be absorbed at a time. How long between each 500 mg.?

    I was told 1/2 hour weight bearing exercise + 1/2 hour cadio daily, plus omega 3 1200 mg. daily.
    some advice greatly appreciated!

  3. hi im taking steroids for my bodybuilding and im also taking extra calcium because i no steroids can weaken your bones is there anyfink else apart from calcium that should be taking 2 help prevent any harm 2 my body
    th steve

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