If you aren’t getting the recommended amount of calcium from your diet, ask your doctor about a low dose calcium supplement. Do not take calcium supplements without proper guidance from your physician.
If you find it hard to get the suggested amounts of calcium through food alone, your doctor may advise a calcium rich diet combined with a low dose calcium supplement. Calcium supplements are prepared as tablets, capsules, or liquids.
- Side effects – Calcium supplements may cause stomach upset, constipation or nausea.
- Tablet size – Tablets are large and can be difficult to swallow.
- Directions – Calcium carbonate must be taken with food or immediately after eating. Calcium citrate, calcium lactate and calcium gluconate can be taken at any time. Take calcium with plenty of water.
- Dosage – Take no more than 500-600 mg of calcium at once. Taking smaller doses throughout the day is better than a larger dose once a day.
Antacids like TUMS are a good source of calcium. These are considered calcium carbonates and should be taken with food.
Only take calcium supplements under the guidance of a physician. Show your doctor or pharmacist the bottle to be sure that you are not taking too much.
Excess calcium from supplements can be harmful. Too much calcium has been associated with constipation, digestive problems, kidney stones, heart problems and even prostate cancer.
Advantages of Vitamin D
Vitamin D is vital to bone health. It helps strengthen bones, partly by promoting calcium absorption. Vitamin D improves muscle function, which in turn increases balance and reduces the risk of falling.
The Sun’s rays react with your skin to produce Vitamin D. People don’t always get as much sun exposure as they need - sunscreen reduces what exposure they do get. With age, people’s ability to produce Vitamin D decreases. Due to a combination of these reasons, many people have low Vitamin D.
There are few dietary sources of Vitamin D – it’s nearly impossible for adults to get the recommended amount of Vitamin D through nutrition alone.
Doctors recommend routine daily supplements as a preventative treatment for osteoporosis:
- Healthy adults between 19-50 need 400 – 1,000 IU daily
- Those over 50 or those at risk for osteoporosis should take 800 – 2,000 IU daily
Taking more than 2,000 IU of Vitamin D day should not be done without medical supervision.
Vitamin D is fat soluble. If you miss your daily supplement, you can take double the amount the next time. This is not recommended for long periods of time and cannot be done with other medications or supplements.
Talk to your doctor about finding the right kind of Vitamin D supplement and appropriate dosage for you.