Although the best way to get calcium is through your diet, calcium supplements might be useful for those who are unable to get enough calcium through food alone. Many types of calcium supplements exist. Some are already combined with other vitamins and minerals, while others contain only calcium. Some calcium supplements might interfere with the absorption of other minerals or vitamins, so it is essential that you learn the proper way to take these supplements.
Ask a doctor which type of calcium supplement to use. Your doctor might base his recommendations on your age, gender, medical condition and the current prescription medications you are taking. Report the vitamin supplements you are currently taking. Ask your doctor how your current supplements might affect the calcium supplements and vice versa.
Purchase the supplement based on your doctor's recommendations. If your doctor didn’t recommend a specific brand of supplements, look for a brand that contains the letters “USP” or “CL” on the bottle. USP stands for the United States Pharmacopeia, while CL stands for ConsumerLab.com. Both of these organizations evaluate vitamins based on quality and purity standards. As long as it doesn’t go against your doctor’s recommendations, also take into consideration your personal preferences when selecting which brand to use. Some calcium supplements are available in a chewable or liquid form, which might be ideal for those who have difficulty swallowing pills.
Read the instructions on the label of your calcium supplement. Note whether you should consume the supplements with food or without food. Calcium carbonate supplements are usually more effective when taken with food, while calcium citrate supplements generally can be taken with or without food.
Determine how many times a day to take the calcium supplements. Calcium is absorbed most efficiently when it’s taken in amounts of 500 milligrams or less, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. This means if you would like to take 1,000 milligrams of calcium each day, you should consider two doses of calcium over the course of the day for maximum effectiveness.
Schedule your calcium supplement doses around your other vitamin doses. Your specific dosing schedule will vary depending on the specific products you are using and individual circumstances, so consult a doctor or pharmacist for advice. It might be beneficial for some to avoid taking calcium supplements at the same time as supplements containing iron, magnesium or zinc, as the calcium might interfere with the body’s ability to absorb these other nutrients. Taking calcium with vitamin D, however, might help your body absorb the calcium.
Begin taking the calcium supplements based on your schedule. Always follow the directions on the label, unless otherwise instructed by your doctor. Contact your doctor if you have any questions or if you experience any side effects from the supplements.
- Check the expiration dates of your supplements, which should not be used if the expiration date has passed, as the supplement might no longer be as effective.
- Always check for possible drug or supplement interactions before beginning to take calcium supplements.
- Do not take more than what is recommended for you by your doctor. Taking more than the tolerable upper intake level for calcium, which is 2,500 milligrams per day, might produce serious side effects. Possible side effects include constipation, calcium buildup in blood vessels, kidney stones and prostate cancer. Although more research is needed, calcium supplements that only contain calcium might increase the risk of heart disease as well.
- Jupiterimages/Polka Dot/Getty Images
This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.