What is calcium used for?
Calcium is a mineral that is an essential part of bones and teeth. The heart, nerves, and blood-clotting systems also need calcium to work.
Calcium is used for:
- Treatment and prevention of low calcium levels and resulting bone conditions including osteoporosis, rickets, and osteomalacia
- Premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
- Leg cramps in pregnancy
- High blood pressure in pregnancy (pre-eclampsia)
- Risk of colon and rectal cancers
- Complications after intestinal bypass surgery, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, Lyme disease
- Hgh fluoride levels in children
- High lead levels
Calcium carbonate is used as an antacid for “heartburn.” Calcium carbonate and calcium acetate are also used for reducing phosphate levels in people with kidney disease.
How does it work?
There are not enough studies about how calcium works. Please discuss with your doctor for more information. However, it is known that:
- The bones and teeth contain over 99% of the calcium in the human body. Calcium is also found in the blood, muscles, and other tissue. Calcium in the bones can be used as a reserve that can be released into the body as needed. The concentration of calcium in the body tends to decline as we age because it is released from the body through sweat, skin cells, and waste. In addition, as women age, absorption of calcium tends to decline due to reduced estrogen levels. Calcium absorption can vary depending on race, gender, and age.
- Bones are always breaking down and rebuilding, and calcium is needed for this process. Taking extra calcium helps the bones rebuild properly and stay strong.
Precautions & warnings
What should I know before using calcium?
Consult with your doctor or pharmacist if:
- You are pregnant or breastfeeding. This is because, while you are expecting or feeding a baby, you should only take medicines on the recommendation of a doctor.
- You are taking any other medicines. This includes any medicines you are taking which are available to buy without a prescription.
- You have allergy with any substances of calcium or other medications or other herbs.
- You have any other illnesses, disorders, or medical conditions.
- You have any other types of allergies, such as to foods, dyes, preservatives, or animals.
The regulations for a supplement are less strict than the regulations for a drug. More studies are needed to determine its safety. The benefits of taking this supplement must outweigh the risks before use. Consult with your doctor for more information.
How safe is calcium?
Calcium is likely safe for most people when taken by mouth or when given intravenously (by IV) and appropriately.
Calcium is possibly unsafe for both adults and children when taken by mouth in high doses. Avoid taking too much calcium. The Institute of Medicine sets the daily tolerable upper intake level (UL) for calcium based on age as follows: Age 0-6 months, 1000 mg; 6-12 months, 1500 mg; 1-8 years, 2500 mg; 9-18 years, 3000 mg; 19-50 years, 2500 mg; 51+ years, 2000 mg. Higher doses increase the chance of having serious side effects.
Some recent research also suggests that doses over the recommended daily requirement of 1000-1300 mg daily for most adults might increase the chance of heart attack. This research is concerning, but it is still too soon to say for certain that calcium is truly the cause of heart attack. Until more is known, continue consuming adequate amounts of calcium to meet daily requirements, but not excessive amounts of calcium.
Be sure to consider total calcium intake from both dietary and supplemental sources and try not to exceed 1000-1300 mg of calcium per day. To figure out dietary calcium, count 300 mg/day from non-dairy foods plus 300 mg/cup of milk or fortified orange juice.
Special precautions & warnings
Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Calcium is likely safe when taken by mouth in recommended amounts during pregnancy and breast-feeding. There is not enough information available on the safety of using calcium intravenously (by IV) during pregnancy and breastfeeding.
Low acid levels in the stomach (achlorhydria). People with low levels of gastric acid absorb less calcium if calcium is taken on an empty stomach. However, low acid levels in the stomach do not appear to reduce calcium absorption if calcium is taken with food. Advise people with achlorhydria to take calcium supplements with meals.
High levels of phosphate in the blood (hyperphosphatemia) or low levels of phosphate in the blood (hypophosphatemia): Calcium and phosphate have to be in balance in the body. Taking too much calcium can throw this balance off and cause harm. Don’t take extra calcium without your health provider’s supervision.
Under-active thyroid (hypothyroidism): Calcium can interfere with thyroid hormone replacement treatment. Separate calcium and thyroid medications by at least 4 hours.
Too much calcium in the blood (as in parathyroid gland disorders and sarcoidosis): Calcium should be avoided if you have one of these conditions.
Poor kidney function: Calcium supplementation can increase the risk of having too much calcium in the blood in people with poor kidney function.
Smoking: People who smoke absorb less calcium from the stomach.
What kind of side effects may I have from calcium?
Calcium can cause some minor side effects such as belching or gas.
Not everyone experiences these side effects. There may be some side effects not listed above. If you have any concerns about side effects, please consult your doctor.
What interactions may I have with calcium?
Calcium may interact with your current medications or medical conditions. Consult with your doctor before using.
Products that may interact with calcium include:
Administering intravenous ceftriaxone and calcium can result in life-threatening damage to the lungs and kidneys. Calcium should not be administered intravenously within 48 hours of intravenous ceftriaxone.
Calcium might decrease how much antibiotic your body absorbs. Taking calcium along with some antibiotics might decrease the effectiveness of some antibiotics. To avoid this interaction, take calcium supplements at least 1 hour after antibiotics.
Some of these antibiotics that might interact with calcium include ciprofloxacin (Cipro), enoxacin (Penetrex), norfloxacin (Chibroxin, Noroxin), sparfloxacin (Zagam), and trovafloxacin (Trovan).
Calcium can attach to some antibiotics called tetracyclines in the stomach. This decreases the amount of tetracyclines that can be absorbed. Taking calcium with tetracyclines might decrease the effectiveness of tetracyclines. To avoid this interaction take calcium 2 hours before or 4 hours after taking tetracyclines.
Some tetracyclines include demeclocycline (Declomycin), minocycline (Minocin), and tetracycline (Achromycin, and others).
Calcium can decrease how much bisphosphate your body absorbs. Taking calcium along with bisphosphates can decrease the effectiveness of bisphosphate. To avoid this interaction, take bisphosphonate at least 30 minutes before calcium or later in the day.
Some bisphosphonates include alendronate (Fosamax), etidronate (Didronel), risedronate (Actonel), tiludronate (Skelid), and others.
Calcipotriene (Dovonex) is a drug that is similar to vitamin D. Vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium. Taking calcium supplements along with calcipotriene (Dovonex) might cause the body to have too much calcium.
Calcium can affect your heart. Digoxin (Lanoxin) is used to help your heart beat stronger. Taking calcium along with digoxin (Lanoxin) might increase the effects of digoxin (Lanoxin) and lead to an irregular heartbeat. If you are taking digoxin (Lanoxin), talk to your doctor before taking calcium supplements.
Calcium can affect your heart. Diltiazem (Cardizem, Dilacor, Tiazac) can also affect your heart. Taking large amounts of calcium along with diltiazem (Cardizem, Dilacor, Tiazac) might decrease the effectiveness of diltiazem (Cardizem, Dilacor, Tiazac).
Levothyroxine is used for low thyroid function. Calcium can decrease how much levothyroxine your body absorbs. Taking calcium along with levothyroxine might decrease the effectiveness of levothyroxine. Levothyroxine and calcium should be taken at least 4 hours apart.
Some brands that contain levothyroxine include Armour Thyroid, Eltroxin, Estre, Euthyrox, Levo-T, Levothroid, Levoxyl, Synthroid, Unithroid, and others.
Taking calcium with sotalol (Betapace) can decrease how much sotalol (Betapace) your body absorbs. Taking calcium along with sotalol (Betapace) might decrease the effectiveness of sotalol (Betapace). To avoid this interaction, take calcium at least 2 hours before or 4 hours after taking sotalol (Betapace).
Calcium can affect your heart. Verapamil (Calan, Covera, Isoptin, Verelan) can also affect your heart. Do not take large amounts of calcium if you are taking verapamil (Calan, Covera, Isoptin, Verelan).
- Water pills
Some “water pills” increase the amount of calcium in your body. Taking large amounts of calcium with some “water pills” might cause there to be too much calcium in the body. This could cause serious side effects, including kidney problems.
Some of these “water pills” include chlorothiazide (Diuril), hydrochlorothiazide (HydroDIURIL, Esidrix), indapamide (Lozol), metolazone (Zaroxolyn), and chlorthalidone (Hygroton).
Estrogen helps your body absorb calcium. Taking estrogen pills along with large amounts of calcium might increase calcium in the body too much.
Estrogen pills include conjugated equine estrogens (Premarin), ethinyl estradiol, estradiol, and others.
- Calcium channel blockers
Some medications for high blood pressure affect calcium in your body. These medications are called calcium channel blockers. Getting calcium injections might decrease the effectiveness of these medications for high blood pressure.
Some medications for high blood pressure include nifedipine (Adalat, Procardia), verapamil (Calan, Isoptin, Verelan), diltiazem (Cardizem), isradipine (DynaCirc), felodipine (Plendil), amlodipine (Norvasc), and others.
The information provided is not a substitute for medical advice. ALWAYS consult your doctor before using this medication.
What is the usual dose for calcium?
The following doses have been studied in scientific research:
- For preventing low calcium levels: 1 gram elemental calcium daily is typically used.
- For heartburn: Calcium carbonate as an antacid is usually 0.5-1.5 grams as needed.
- To reduce phosphates in adults with chronic renal failure: The initial dose of calcium acetate is 1.334 grams (338 mg elemental calcium) with each meal, increasing to 2-2.67 grams (500-680 mg elemental calcium) with each meal if necessary.
- For prevention of weak bones (osteoporosis): Doses of 1-1.6 grams elemental calcium daily from foods and supplements. Osteoporosis treatment guidelines in North America currently recommend 1200 mg daily of calcium.
- For prevention of bone loss in premenopausal women over 40: A dose of 1 gram.
- For pregnant women with low dietary calcium intake: The dose for increasing fetal bone density ranges from 300-1300 mg/day beginning at gestation week 20-22.
- For premenstrual syndrome (PMS): 1-1.2 grams calcium per day as calcium carbonate.
- For reducing thyroid hormone levels in people with chronic renal failure: 2-21 grams calcium carbonate.
- To prevent bone loss in people taking corticosteroid drugs: Divided daily doses of 1 gram of elemental calcium daily.
- For high blood pressure: 1-1.5 grams calcium daily.
- For preventing high blood pressure during pregnancy (pre-eclampsia): 1-2 grams elemental calcium daily as calcium carbonate.
- For preventing colorectal cancer and recurrent colorectal benign tumors (adenomas): Calcium 1200-1600 mg/day.
- For high cholesterol: 1200 mg daily with or without vitamin D 400 IU daily has been used in conjunction with a low-fat or calorie-restricted diet.
- For preventing fluoride poisoning in children: Calcium 125 mg twice daily, in combination with ascorbic acid and vitamin D.
- For weight loss, increasing calcium consumption from dairy products to total intake of 500-2400 mg/day in combination with a calorie-restricted diet has been used.
Calcium carbonate and calcium citrate are the two most commonly used forms of calcium.
Calcium supplements are usually divided into two doses daily in order to increase absorption. It’s best to take calcium with food in doses of 500 mg or less.
The Institute of Medicine publishes a recommended daily allowance (RDA) for calcium which is an estimate of the intake level necessary to meet the requirements of nearly all healthy individuals in the population. The current RDA was set in 2010. The RDA varies based on age as follows: Age 1-3 years, 700 mg; 4-8 years, 1000 mg; 9-18 years, 1300 mg; 19-50 years, 1000 mg; Men 51-70 years, 1000 mg; Women 51-70 years, 1200 mg; 70+ years, 1200 mg; Pregnant or Lactating (under 19 years), 1300 mg; Pregnant or Lactating (19-50 years), 1000 mg.
The Institute of Medicine also sets the daily tolerable upper intake level (UL) for calcium based on age as follows: Age 0-6 months, 1000 mg; 6-12 months, 1500 mg; 1-3 years, 2500 mg; 9-18 years, 3000 mg; 19-50 years, 2500 mg; 51+ years, 2000 mg. Doses above these levels should be avoided.
Doses over the recommended daily intake level of 1000-1300 mg/day for most adults have been associated with an increased risk of heart attack. Until more is known, continue consuming adequate amounts of calcium to meet daily requirements, but not excessive amounts of calcium. Be sure to consider total calcium intake from both dietary and supplemental sources and try not to exceed 1000-1300 mg of calcium per day. To figure out dietary calcium, count 300 mg/day from non-dairy foods plus 300 mg/cup of milk or fortified orange juice.
The dose for calcium may be different for every patient. The dose that you take depends on your age, health, and several other conditions. Supplements are not always safe. Please discuss with your doctor for your appropriate dosage.
What form does calcium come in?
Calcium may be available in the following forms:
- Calcium capsules 600mg
- Liquid calcium
Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
Calcium http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-781-calcium.aspx?activeingredientid=781 Accessed September 13, 2017
Calcium http://www.medicinenet.com/calcium_supplements-oral/article.htm Accessed September 13, 2017
Review Date: September 13, 2017 | Last Modified: September 13, 2017