How much calcium should I take daily in supplement form?

A Answers (5)

  • AMichael Roizen, MD, Internal Medicine, answered
    There are several recommendations when looking to start taking a regular calcium supplement:
    • Men and women should make sure to get enough calcium: 1,000 to 1,200 milligrams (mg) a day for men and 1,200 mg for most women over thirty (pregnancy and other conditions may change requirements slightly). Take 500 or 600 mg twice a day. (This refers to the amount of actual calcium, not calcium in combination with citrate or carbonate. If the label reads 1,000 mg of calcium citrate, read on to find the amount of calcium by itself.) Any kind of calcium supplement -- even over-the-counter antacid tablets -- should fit the bill, just as long as you are getting the right amount of milligrams.
    • What about coral calcium? What about calcium carbonate versus calcium citrate? Some people favor coral calcium, because a study showed that calcium absorption was 17.5 percent better with coral calcium than with calcium carbonate. But why pay three times as much for just this small difference in absorption? Why not just take 200 mg more a day? You'll get the same amount in your body. That extra 200 mg may cost you perhaps a dime more, whereas the coral calcium would cost you something like a dollar extra a day. (Remember to take vitamin D and magnesium with your calcium as well.)
    • I advise against taking calcium supplements that contain bone meal, dolomite, and/or oyster shells, as these can contain lead or other heavy metals that may be toxic. Calcium carbonate is best absorbed when taken with food. Calcium citrate may be taken at any time (by itself or with food). Both forms can cause constipation. If this occurs, eat more fruits, whole grain cereals, and vegetables or rely on that old standby, a prune a day. I recommend taking about 300 mg of magnesium in conjunction with calcium.
    • Eat dairy foods for extra calcium, but do not rely on them as your only source of calcium unless you eat and drink a lot of dairy products (and, of course, remember to eat low-fat versions). If you consistently drink three or four glasses of milk a day, you can modify the amount you take in supplemental form accordingly.
    • You must be very careful to make the 1,000- or 1,200-mg marker daily. Here's a reminder to anyone under thirty, or even thirty-five: You should get lots of calcium to build bone strength for the future, because the calcium the body stores in bone until about the mid-thirties then becomes the surplus stores for the rest of your life.
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  • Adults (18 years and older):

    • The dose, frequency, and duration of calcium used for any indication are dependent on individual requirements. The following amounts have been suggested for daily elemental calcium intake: 1,000 milligrams (19-50 years), 1,000 milligrams (51-70 years), and 1,200 milligrams (postmenopausal women or 71 years). In human study, oral calcium doses typically range from 200-3,500 milligrams daily. Many forms are available. Different conditions may require unique dosing and should be discussed with a qualified healthcare provider.
    • The dose, frequency, and duration of calcium gluconate used for any indication are dependent on individual requirements. According to the National Institutes of Health, the usual adult dose of calcium gluconate ranges from 5-20 milliliters given intravenously either directly or by infusion.
    • Oral calcium phosphate has been used for oral mucositis (mouth ulcers/irritation).

    You should read product labels, and discuss all therapies with a qualified healthcare provider. Natural Standard information does not constitute medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

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  • AJill Weisenberger, Nutrition & Dietetics, answered
    Adults should get between 1000 -- 1200 mg calcium daily depending on age. Low calcium intakes over the long term cause low bone mass and could lead to osteoporosis and increased bone fractures. If you choose to supplement, take no more than 500 mg calcium at a time because you cannot absorb calcium well in higher doses. So, for example, if you are going to take 1000 mg calcium daily, take two doses of 500 mg each. If you choose a calcium carbonate supplement, take it with meals. You can take calcium citrate either with or without food. For detailed meal planning and advice on supplements, you should meet with a registered dietitian.  
  • ADebra Fulghum Bruce PhD, Healthcare, answered
    For adults, the recommendation is approximately 1,000 mg per day, reaching up to 1,500 mg daily for teenagers, pregnant and lactating women, postmenopausal women not taking estrogen, and men and women over 65. You can reach these recommended amounts by consuming three or four servings of calcium-rich foods such as an 8-ounce glass of milk, an 8-ounce cup of yogurt, one ounce of cheese, calcium-fortified juice, salmon, and green, leafy vegetables.
  • ABill Salt, MD, Gastroenterology, answered
    Men should take 1,000 to 1,200 milligrams of calcium a day; women under sixty should take about 1,200 of calcium a day. Women over sixty should take 1,600 milligrams of calcium each day. Since most of us cannot absorb more than 600 milligrams of calcium at a time, it is best to divide the daily dose in two and take it twice a day.
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