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The Effects of Taking Calcium Supplements

A patient in NYC holding calcium supplements in their hand.

Calcium is an essential dietary mineral and plays a vital role in overall health. Taking dietary calcium supplements can help those who are not able to get enough dietary sources of calcium, such as dairy products or leafy green vegetables. However, recent health studies have concluded that taking dietary calcium supplements may not be necessary for all women.

If you have questions about whether you are consuming enough calcium and may need dietary supplements, schedule a consultation with our highly skilled healthcare professionals at Maiden Lane Medical located in Manhattan, New York. Call us today or schedule an appointment online! 

What Is Calcium?

Calcium is an essential mineral found in many foods. It plays a major role in bone and teeth health, as well as in muscle contraction, nerve transmission, and blood clotting. In addition to its important roles in the body, calcium is also needed for a healthy heart rhythm and helps regulate enzyme activity and hormone secretion.

People need calcium throughout their lives, but especially during childhood and adolescence when bones are growing rapidly. Adequate calcium intake can help prevent osteoporosis later in life by increasing bone density now. 

Dairy products such as milk, cheese, and yogurt are particularly rich sources of calcium, though vegetables like kale and broccoli also contain significant amounts of the nutrient. Supplements are available for those who do not get enough calcium in their diets, though a balanced diet is always the best way to get the necessary nutrients.

Types of Calcium Supplements

Calcium supplements are available in several types, the most commonly used being calcium carbonate and calcium citrate. 

Calcium carbonate is a mineral supplement derived from limestone rock, which forms an alkaline compound when mixed with hydrochloric acid. It contains 40% elemental calcium, making it one of the more economical calcium supplements on the market. 

Calcium citrate is a form of calcium that is bound to citric acid, providing for better absorption in people with low stomach acid levels. This form of calcium has 21% elemental calcium and tends to be more expensive than calcium carbonate. 

No matter which type of calcium supplement is taken, it’s important to ensure that the recommended daily allowance is met for optimal bone health. This can vary depending on age and gender, so consulting with a doctor or dietician is always advised before taking calcium supplements.

What Are the Health Benefits of Taking Calcium Supplements?

Taking calcium supplements, when necessary, can provide multiple health benefits, especially for bone health. Supplementing with calcium, as well as other vitamins and minerals such as Vitamin D and Magnesium, can help to keep bones strong and healthy. Calcium also plays an essential role in many other bodily functions like nerve transmission, muscle contraction, and regulation of blood pressure.

A regular intake of calcium and vitamin D helps to maintain bone density and reduce the risk of osteoporosis or bone fractures in older people. People with a low dietary intake of calcium and vitamin D or whose bodies don’t absorb enough from food need to take additional calcium supplementation to reach their recommended daily dose. 

Who Should Consider Taking Calcium Supplements?

An older woman exercising and feeling the good effects of taking calcium supplements. Those who may need calcium supplementation include post-menopausal women, pregnant or breastfeeding women, individuals with lactose intolerance, people on vegan diets, as well as those with poor absorption due to chronic illnesses such as celiac disease or inflammatory bowel syndrome (IBS).

Experts recommend getting the recommended daily dietary allowance (RDA) of calcium 1000 mg-1200 mg a day depending on age, through food sources. However, even if you eat a balanced diet rich in calcium-containing foods like dairy products, leafy greens, and fish, if you don’t absorb calcium easily or if your calcium requirements are higher than usual, a calcium supplement may be beneficial.

Do Calcium Supplements Have Risks?

Taking calcium supplements is not necessarily beneficial and can have risks. Consuming too much calcium through calcium supplements can lead to calcium deposits in the body’s soft tissues, potentially causing health issues. Too much calcium from any source, including calcium supplements, also increases your risk of developing kidney stones.

Even though calcium supplements are often recommended for calcium intake, caution should be taken when taking calcium supplements. It is important to know how much calcium you need. If you are considering calcium supplements, speak with your doctor first to ensure they are appropriate for you and that your calcium intake will not exceed the recommended daily value.

Is Calcium Consumption Right for Me?

If you are wondering whether you have a calcium deficiency or even how much calcium you should be consuming, schedule a consultation with one of our physicians at Maiden Lane Medical located in Manhattan, NY. Our expert healthcare specialists can accurately diagnose whether you require calcium supplementation and get you on the right track toward optimal health. Call us today or schedule an appointment online!

Medically Reviewed By

Harry Gruenspan, MD, PhD
Board Certified Endocrinologist, Internal Medicine & Metabolism