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Who should take calcium carbonate?

Some individuals, based on their diet and/or medical history, are advised by their health care provider to take a calcium supplement. The calcium in supplements is part of a compound, typically either calcium carbonate or calcium citrate.

Calcium carbonate tends to be the least expensive and the most common form of calcium purchased. It is most effective when consumed with a meal, as the acidic juices in your stomach help with its absorption. Calcium citrate can be taken any time throughout the day, as it doesn’t need the help of acidic juices to be absorbed. Calcium citrate is a plus for those ages 50 and older who may be producing less stomach acid as they age.

Regardless of the form, all calcium, whether from supplements or from fortified or naturally occurring foods, should be consumed in doses of 500 milligrams or less, as this is the maximum that your body can absorb efficiently at one time. In other words, if a person has been advised to take 1,000 milligrams of calcium daily, 500 milligrams should be consumed in the morning and the other 500 milligrams in the afternoon or evening.

Calcium from unrefined oyster shell, bone meal, or dolomite (a rock rich in calcium) may also contain lead and other toxic metals. Supplements from these sources should state on the label that they are “purified” or carry the USP symbol to ensure purity. Because calcium can interfere with and reduce the absorption of iron, a calcium supplement shouldn’t be taken along with an iron supplement.

Calcium carbonate should be taken by people with a deficiency of calcium, a mineral needed for healthy development and maintenance of bones, muscles, the heart, and nervous system. Calcium carbonate can also be used by people with an upset stomach, heartburn, or indigestion.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.