Calcium is vital for your bones. You can get calcium through food, but you might need a supplement if you don’t eat enough of it.
If you want to take calcium supplements, you should know how much calcium you need and what types of supplements are best.
Why do you need calcium?
Want to build and maintain strong bones, your body needs calcium. Your other organs such as the heart, muscles, and nerves also need calcium so they can work.
Some studies say that calcium and vitamin D may help protect you from cancer, diabetes, and high blood pressure. But more proof is needed before we can say for sure.
If you do not get enough calcium, you might have health problems related to weaker bones. For example, adults could have low bone mass, which is a risk factor for osteoporosis. In addition, children may not reach their full adult height.
Many people in America don’t get enough calcium. Children and teens are at risk, but so are adults over 50.
Calcium requirements are high at all stages of life. However, dietary reference values for adults vary from 1000 to 1300 mg, depending on the guidelines you use.
Below is a guideline taken from SACN: U.K. Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition. IOM: USA Institute of Medicine. EFSA: European Food Safety Authority
UK (SACN) 
|USA and Canada (IOM) ||FAO/WHO ||European (EFSA) |
|Age||Estimated Average Requirement (mg/day)||Recommended Nutrient Intake||Estimated Average Requirement (mg/day)||Recommended Dietary Allowance (mg/day)||Estimated Average Requirement (mg/day)||Recommended Nutrient Intake||Average Requirement (mg/day)||Population Reference Intake|
|0–6 month||400||525||200 (AI)||240–300||300–400|
|6–12 month||400||525||260 (AI)||240–300||300–400||280 (AI)|
|14 to 18 year||Same as non-pregnant||Same as non-pregnant||1100||1300||*||*||Same as non-pregnant||Same as non-pregnant|
|19 and older||Same as non-pregnant||Same as non-pregnant||800||1000||940||1200||Same as non-pregnant||Same as non-pregnant|
|Lactation||plus 550||plus 550||1100/800||1300/1000||1040||1000||Same as non-lactating||Same as non-lactating|
Calcium from food
Your body doesn’t make calcium, so you need to get it from other sources. You can find calcium in:
- Cheese, milk, and yogurt
- Broccoli and kale
- Fish with bones that you can eat
- Calcium-fortified foods and drinks such as soy products, cereal and fruit juices, and milk substitutes
Your body can use calcium if you have vitamin D. The sun and food can give you the vitamin D that your body needs. You need 600 international units (15 micrograms) of vitamin D every day for most adults.
Who should take calcium supplements
Even if you eat a healthy diet, it can be challenging to get enough calcium if:
- You follow a vegan diet and don’t drink milk products
- You have lactose intolerance and don’t drink milk
- You eat lots of protein or salt. This makes your body excrete more calcium
- Your body can’t absorb calcium because you have certain bowel or digestive diseases
If that’s the case, calcium supplements may help you meet your calcium requirements. Talk to your doctor or a healthcare professional about whether they are right for you.
Calcium supplements risks
Calcium supplements are not for everyone. If you have a health condition that causes too much calcium in your body (hypercalcemia), then you should avoid calcium supplements.
Doctors are not sure if high-dose calcium will cause heart diseases. More research is needed before they can know if there is a link or not.
Studies show that taking too much calcium from food such as, intake from dairy products and supplements, may increase your risk of prostate cancer. But other, more recent studies found no increased risk of prostate cancer associated with total calcium, dietary calcium, or supplemental calcium intakes.
Until we know more about these possible risks, it’s important to be careful and not have too much calcium. As with any health issue, talk to your doctor because they will know what is right for you.
Calcium supplement varieties
Different kinds of compounds that have calcium inside them are used in calcium supplements. The amount of calcium on each type is different. When a bottle says “calcium,” it means the amount of calcium inside the compound.
- Calcium gluconate (9% elemental calcium)
- Calcium lactate (13% elemental calcium)
- Calcium carbonate (40% elemental calcium)
- Calcium citrate (21% elemental calcium)
There are two major forms of calcium supplements. One is carbonate, and one is citrate. Carbonates are cheaper and maybe a good first choice for you because they are more affordable. There are other types of calcium in supplements, such as gluconate and lactate.
Some calcium supplements have vitamins and other minerals in them. For example, they might have vitamin D or magnesium. You need to know what type of calcium supplement you are taking and if it has any other nutrients in it. This is important if you have any health concerns or dietary needs.
How to choose the best calcium supplements
Look out for the following when you’re deciding on which calcium supplements for you and your family:
The amount of calcium
Elemental calcium is important because it shows how much calcium you will get. It tells you how much of the Supplement your body can absorb. The Supplement Facts label on calcium supplements helps show how much elemental calcium is in one serving. For example, one 1,250-mg tablet of calcium carbonate contains 500 mg of essential calcium. Make sure to note the serving size (number of tablets) so that you know how much elemental calcium is in one serving.
Calcium supplements are safe. They do not cause many side effects. But sometimes, side effects can happen, including gas, constipation, and bloating.
The most constipating kind is calcium carbonate. You might wanna try a few different brands or types of calcium supplements to find one you can tolerate the best.
Calcium supplements can interact with many different medicines. They are good for your bones, but they can also interact with other medicines.
You need to tell your doctor or pharmacist if you are taking calcium supplements and which type you take to know how it will work with the other medicine.
If you want to buy a supplement, the company that makes it is responsible for ensuring that it is safe and truthful.
If you are worried, some companies have their product tested by U.S. Pharmacopeial Convention (USP), ConsumerLab.com (CL), or NSF International before they sell it to ensure everything is good and safe.
Different types of calcium supplements cost different amounts of money, so if cost matters to you, make sure to look up prices at all the stores you want before buying one because some will be cheaper than others, depending on where they’re sold.
There are many things involve when retailers price their supplements. Their cost of goods, marketing costs, and other costs, etc.
Our price is lower than average because we use lower-cost printers to cut our costs down. This only affects the bottle’s label and has nothing to do with what’s inside — which is what matters. Our profit margin is not high. All this means is that the savings are transferred to you, the customer.
Capsules or tablets?
You can get calcium from a lot of different things. You can take powders, tablets, capsules, chews, etc. If it’s hard to swallow pills, you may want a chewable or liquid calcium supplement.
Your body needs calcium to be healthy. Different types of calcium will work better. For example, some people with stomach problems might want to take calcium because it is better absorbed.
Calcium citrate can be taken with or without food, and it works well for people with stomach problems.
Dietary calcium is safe, but too much can be harmful. I don’t think that taking in a lot of calcium can give you bigger bones or protection. It does not.
There isn’t much difference as some people think between getting the right amount of calcium you need and taking too much.
Also, take into account the calcium that you’re getting from food. And, remember to take vitamin D3 to help use the calcium you take in.
As always, ask your doctor for advice if you’re not sure of anything and tell your doctor if you are taking calcium supplements. And read our men’s health guide to help you live a little longer.
“I have the metabolism of a sloth and a body that hates putting on muscles. This curse motivated me to study weight loss and nutrition. I want to share my experiences and knowledge to help you achieve your ideal body.”— Christian Tanobey