How To Take Calcium Supplements for Best Absorption?

Nikhil Goswami

Calcium is an essential mineral present in various meals, including dairy products. Over 99 percent of the calcium in the human body comprises the bones and teeth. So, taking calcium-rich foods is key to keeping your bones strong. You can try calcium supplements to boost calcium in your body. 

Bones regularly degrade and regenerate. This process uses up calcium content, meaning we should often read food labels and add calcium to our diet. However, this mineral affects other parts aside from bones and teeth. For example, foods like fatty fish help with your cardiovascular health and prevent celiac disease.

People frequently take calcium orally to control and diagnose low calcium levels, muscular cramps, osteoporosis, bone softening, and PMS. It is also a treatment for cancer, hypertension, and several other illnesses. So, how to take calcium supplements for best absorption? 

Taking Calcium Dietary Supplements

Numerous dairy products, kale, broccoli, and citrus drinks, contain elemental calcium. Hence, if you seldom consume such foods, consider taking calcium supplements as well. The daily calcium requirements for people aged 19-51 is around 1,000 mg. After that age, women should increase the dose to up to 1,200 mg per day. Also, pregnant or nursing women should take 1,300 mg of calcium content each day.

Are Calcium Supplements Beneficial?

The answer depends on your lifestyle. For instance, if you lead a healthy life, exercise, and eat healthily, you’re probably reaching 1,000 mg of the mineral per day. On this note, keep in mind that taking too much calcium and Vitamin D can also create risk factors. However, if you don’t have a habit of taking calcium-rich foods, you might end up with weak bones and low bone mass.

Therefore, eat dairy and other sources of elemental calcium. Otherwise, various calcium supplements may be beneficial for your bone health. Most notably, if you’re mending broken bones or dealing with an inflammatory bowel disease.

Scientific Research on Calcium Supplements

Taking enough calcium and Vitamin D per serving is key to your overall well-being. Hence the high presence of formulas like calcium sulfate in dentistry. However, you need calcium to maintain strong bones in general. Yet, allowing too much calcium buildup can make it hard for your body to absorb the dosages higher than 1,000 mg per day. So, you can measure the daily amount of calcium by taking supplements.

On the flip side, many companies claim their products may help you, but reliable research does not always support such boasts. Here are several aspects where added calcium can offer you respite.

  • Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is a skeletal condition that weakens bones and is typically a result of aging. As a result, patients suffer increased risks of bone fracture. Hence, the rules for how much calcium per serving is enough differ in such scenarios.

Due to their lesser bone density and the significant decline in estrogen during menopause, women are more vulnerable to this than males. Although studies may not always support it, taking calcium and Vitamin D supplement may lower this risk. 

For example, some studies have connected increased dietary calcium consumption to better bone density in women over 60. Yet, these results don’t always show. Additionally, there is conflicting research about calcium supplementation and fractures. According to a meta-analysis of several trials, supplemental calcium and vitamin D had no impact on hip fractures.

  • Cancer Prevention

Additionally, many scientists study calcium to determine whether it might help avoid cancer. For example, one study indicated that taking enough calcium might reduce the risk of colorectal cancer. However, the jury is still out on whether calcium and Vitamin D-rich foods play a deciding role in lowering the risk of cancer.

  • Weight Loss

Additionally conflicting is the evidence on calcium supplementation and weight loss. On this front, experts concur that taking 1,000 mg per day is beneficial, but exercise remains a key factor. Thus, the goal of staying fit demands keeping many aspects under control.

  • Preeclampsia

Preeclampsia is the most common sickness associated with pregnancy and labor, affecting both the mom and the baby. This illness develops anytime after the 20th week of pregnancy and manifests via high blood pressure and protein in the urine.

According to studies by the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, pregnant women who regularly take calcium-rich foods may experience a less severe case of preeclampsia.

  • Cardiovascular Diseases

Experts debate whether calcium lowers the risk of heart disease since it helps to minimize the number of fats your body uses in circulation (CVD). However, they also underline the need to stay within the recommended limits.

According to a relevant Australian study, persons who get calcium mostly from their meals alone, without taking supplements, had a 25% decreased risk of stroke. So, there is proof that calcium supplementation may affect CVD.

On the flip side, there are also studies that linked calcium supplements with cardiovascular diseases. In one sizable trial of women, the results showed that overusing calcium supplements (with or without Vitamin D) can increase the risk of such issues.

Things to Look For in a Calcium Supplement

  • Brand Reputation

Before you buy from a brand, inquire about its trustworthiness. Several brands sell various calcium supplements, but not all stick to the proper market standards. So, be aware of these scams and do in-depth background research to stay on the safe side.

  • Third-Party Lab Testing

It’s critical to choose a product from a reputable supplier who follows norms of effectiveness and quality. To this end, examine the formula and the manufacturing method. Also, favor the brands that can back up their claims from an independent source.  

Third-party lab tests are a sure-shot way to learn about a brand’s fair practices. So, head to the official website and look for recent third-party test results. Then, consider it a red flag if there are none. Aside from beneficial content, such results offer a glimpse into the item’s formula. In that way, you’ll stay in the know regarding what you’re getting.

So, even when a product’s label claims to have a particular amount of calcium, look more in-depth. Another issue is that several calcium supplies include toxic metals, including cadmium, lead, and arsenic. Choosing your supplement from a reputable supplier is crucial, particularly for pregnant women.

  • Absorbability

The majority of well-known calcium products are readily absorbed into the body. If unsure about your product, you may test how effectively it dissolves. So, start by soaking it for 30 minutes in a tiny portion of warm water while mixing it at short intervals. 

It probably won’t dissolve in your tummy if it hasn’t done so by then. Also, calcium supplements that are liquid or chewy fare much better on this front.

On a similar note, the body absorbs calcium easier when it is taken in doses of up to 500 mg or less. Therefore, evaluate these measures and ration them accordingly. Similarly, don’t resort to taking a lot of calcium at once. Instead, if you miss a bit, try making up for it in the following days.

When consumed with meals, calcium carbonate is more readily absorbed. Also, you can consume calcium citrate at any time. Be sure to get enough Vitamin D as well, as this will help the body absorb calcium.

  • Form

Generally, you’ll consume various forms of calcium via everyday products. The most common types are calcium carbonate, calcium citrate, tricalcium phosphate, calcium lactate, and calcium gluconate. Let’s take a closer look at these four types.

The most commonly used type of calcium, calcium carbonate, is also the least costly. Nevertheless, overuse may result in digestive distress, including bloating, gas, and constipation.

In comparison to calcium carbonate supplements, calcium malate and calcium citrate supplements act in a slower but safer manner. However, for these two forms to be most effectively digested, take them with your meals.

Tricalcium phosphate is often used in packaged foods to enhance or enrich them with calcium and Vitamin D. So, depending on your eating habits, you might already take this compound several times a day.

Therefore, regardless of your choice, mind the consequences of overusing these substances. Diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, extreme thirst, excessive urination, and reduced hunger are a few possible adverse effects. Additionally, these may not be the best choice for persons with specific medical problems and may interfere with some drugs.

Last but not least, all of these calcium supplements, except calcium carbonate, are often more costly and come in the shape of huge pills or tablets. So, consider their intake methods before submitting.

  • Consider Your Tolerance Level

Certain calcium supplements might have adverse side effects for some users, like bloating or constipation. If common tactics like consuming more water or eating high-fiber meals don’t work, switch to a different product.

Additionally, it’s crucial to start things slowly by taking 500 mg per day. After a while, consider increasing the dosage of your supplements. At all stages, ensure to monitor for any unusual changes in your bowel movements. Similarly, if you have a history of medical conditions, stick to the doctor’s guidance.

  • Ingredients and Potential Interactions

To understand which components are present in a product, you should see the ingredients section. You can also find other necessary details on the label. It is crucial to study the ingredient list and nutritional values carefully. 

To discuss the individual substances in the product and learn about any possible interactions with other vitamins or drugs you are using, consult your physician.

Since Vitamin D is necessary for calcium absorption, calcium supplements frequently include that element too. Aside from that, these products often contain percentages of Magnesium and Vitamin K per serving.

  • Combination Products

There are types of calcium supplements that combine antioxidants and other forms of nutrients. As we pointed out before, Vitamin D is one common substance you’ll often find in these products.

Nevertheless, your body doesn’t need such combos of calcium and Vitamin D for proper absorption. Yet, companies derive beneficial formulas to cover all fronts, including the cheap price.

Minerals like magnesium and phosphorus are also crucial, although they are often consumed through food or multivitamin supplements. Most specialists advise getting nutrients through a balanced vegan diet and using multivitamins to compensate for any deficits.

Side Effects of Calcium Supplements

When taken orally, a daily dose of 1,000-1,300 mg of calcium is a safe amount. So, most adverse side effects end with burping or gas. However, if you neglect to follow that intake range, your body might have trouble keeping up. In other words, you’ll overstep the tolerable upper intake level (UL) for calcium. So, for people aged 19 to 51, the UL is 2,500 mg, while for those over 50, it is 2,000 mg. The likelihood of experiencing severe side effects increases the more you overstep these limits.

  • Pregnant and Breastfeeding Mothers

Calcium may be harmful if used orally in amounts more than the daily maximum allowable intake (UL). For people under 18, the UL is 3,000 mg, while for those above 18, the limit falls to 2,500 mg per day.

To make things worse, higher dosages may also affect the baby. For example, it might make the infant more susceptible to seizures. So, don’t forget to consider your overall calcium consumption from food and supplementary calcium sources. Refrain from taking more calcium than 1,000–1,200 mg in a single day. At the same time, follow any development closely with the help of a physician.

  • Children

Calcium given orally in the prescribed doses is probably safe. However, too much calcium might create issue seven for kids.

The UL is 1,000 mg for infants 0 to 6 months, 1,500 mg for infants 6 to 12 months old, 2,500 mg for toddlers from one to eight years, and 3,000 mg for kids between 9 and 18 years. So, children should not ingest more calcium than necessary, even during puberty.

  • Low Level of Acids in the Body

Calcium consumed on an upset stomach results in reduced calcium absorption in those with low amounts of gastric acid. Thus, calcium supplements should be taken with food if a person has low stomach acid levels.

  • Too Much Calcium in the Body

If you have a disease that raises your calcium levels, you should avoid calcium supplements at any cost. Otherwise, you’ll create many more issues and further complicate the situation.

  • Stroke 

Stroke survivors that use calcium supplements for more than five years may raise their risk of dementia. However, science is still looking into the exact numbers on this aspect. Yet, a little caution is advised.

Health Benefits of Calcium Supplements

  • Bone Density and Osteoporosis

Calcium is necessary for bone formation and to halt or postpone bone deterioration as you age. This is critical for the aged and menopausal women who are most at risk.

Porous and brittle bones characterize a bone condition known as osteoporosis. As such, it leads to patients suffering from various bone fractures.

Luckily, research has examined the connection between osteoporosis and calcium supplementation. It is one of the areas where calcium is most effective.

Regarding mending fractures, supplemental calcium is a reliable method of protection. Yet, some patients showed very little improvement. The results varied depending on the subjects, their ages, and how well (or poorly) they kept up their regular usage of calcium supplements.

There is little doubt that getting enough calcium and Vitamin D in your diet, together with weight-resistance training, may lower your risk of osteoporosis in older years.

  • Colon Cancer

Many studies have suggested that calcium may assist in the prevention of colon cancer. It’s crucial to keep in mind that these findings are still preliminary.

For instance, one analysis evaluated the impact of calcium-rich food on the emergence of colon cancer. Adenomatous polyps, which are growths that might serve as a prelude to cancer, were the focus of the study.

In the end, the team concluded that calcium might help provide a modicum of defense from these tumors. The evidence was insufficient to justify a prescription for their usage in colon cancer prevention, nevertheless. 

On the other hand, one Harvard study included higher daily calcium dosages of 1,250 mg. The findings revealed that the larger dosages might reduce certain colon cancers by 35%.

This may suggest that how much calcium you take has something to do with your colon health. However, the results vary depending on the patient’s overall condition.

  • Weight Control

The evidence for calcium’s potential role in weight loss is unclear. However, some reports indicate a link between high calcium intake and reduced body weight.

Others prove that foods high in calcium but low in fat seldom lead to obesity. Also, many calcium-rich foods are low on calories, meaning you can use them when training.

On the flip side, calcium pills did not appear to offer the same advantages as common food items. Either way, making sure you are burning more calories than you are absorbing is crucial if you want to shave off some pounds. 

Unsaturated fats, whole grains, vegetables, fruit juices, and lean protein should all be included in well-balanced diets. If you’re considering increasing your dairy intake, remember that whole-fat dairy products might have significant calorie and saturated fat content. Thus, weight gain could result from consuming more dairy than usual.

  • Preeclampsia

Preeclampsia is a disease common in pregnant women. Some symptoms of preeclampsia include hypertension, protein wastage through urine, and swelling of the hands and feet. 

  • Regulates Your Blood Pressure 

Calcium helps to keep your blood pressure in control. However, note that calcium supplements don’t provide this directly. Instead, they bring the overall calcium levels to a healthier degree.

  • Prevents Diabetes

Calcium is widely known to prevent diabetes and other similar illnesses. To this end, calcium supplements contain no additives. Therefore, they are very low on calories.

A Better Calcium Option

While calcium supplements may have adverse side effects, reaching your daily calcium intake by eating healthy is also an option. On this note, try making a habit of consuming a bit of calcium with each of the several meals throughout the day. In this way, you’ll leave plenty of space for your body to get on top of things.

The recommended daily calcium intake for women is 1,000 mg for those aged 19 to 51 and 1,200 milligrams for those over 51. Some excellent food sources of calcium are:

  • Soybeans
  • Garbanzo
  • Oranges
  • Low-fat dairies like milk and yogurt
  • Leafy green vegetables
  • Almonds
  • Dried figs

Exercise for Better Bone Health

Regular physical activity and exercise maintain bone density, strength, and overall health. Common exercises like running, lifting weights, and walking, are particularly effective at reducing bone loss. Plus, they regulate many aspects related to your cardiovascular health.

In short, simply increasing your daily activity level is beneficial for bone health. According to research, women who spend more than nine hours a day sitting have a 50% higher risk of a broken hip.

So, try and devise a plan to increase how many calories you burn during the day. For example, try using the stairs rather than the escalator. Also, consider going jogging on a sunny day or starting a gym membership.

For most women, the best strategy to maintain healthy bones is to avoid calcium pills in favor of increasing nutritional calcium and prioritizing exercise. Yet, your schedule might conflict with such goals.

Lastly, note that you can consult an expert before starting a calcium supplementation plan. At the same time, inquire about how you should best support that diet in terms of physical activity. After all, the proper ratio depends on your body weight and blood type.

FAQs About Calcium Supplements 

1.  Do I need a calcium supplement?

If you rarely eat junk food, have a balanced diet, and have no history of medical illness, you might not need a calcium supplement. Milk, yogurt, cheese, buttermilk, soy protein drinks, tofu, tinned fish, white beans, almonds, and spinach are types of calcium-rich foods.

However, people often avoid dairy or animal products in their diet. Then, it becomes a bit more challenging to reach the recommended daily dose. So, if you’re not keen on counting the amount, taking calcium supplements makes for an easier time.

Your doctor may also suggest a calcium supplement depending on your unique needs, medical background, and blood type.

2.  How should I take calcium supplements for best absorption?

It is usually recommended to consume no more than 500 mg at a time. If you add more, it might take longer for your body to process all those nutrients. As a result, the supplement might interfere with any other forms of meds you’re currently taking.

Also, you shouldn’t take a calcium supplement if you eat a lot of whole grains, seeds, legumes, nuts, spinach, soy, potatoes, or beets. Such a diet is calcium-rich already.

3.  Do calcium supplements cause constipation?

The relationship between calcium and constipation is still a mystery, even though constipation is a recognized adverse effect of several drugs and supplements. 

The Institute of Medicine advises avoiding calcium carbonate or taking it in lower amounts more frequently. IF you keep a healthy pace, you’re less likely to experince constipation, gas, and bloating. However, a small controlled study from 2016 found no difference in constipation between 500 mg of calcium carbonate or phosphate.

4.  Do calcium supplements cause kidney stones?

Food-derived calcium does not cause kidney stones and may even assist in that matter. Nevertheless, calcium supplements may raise your risk of fresh calcium oxalate kidney stones.

Postmenopausal women who take 1,000 mg of calcium a day via supplements may be at an increased risk of developing kidney stones. However, such development is very rare in practice.

5.  Do calcium supplements have any other risks?

Calcium supplements are not necessary for every single person. If you have hypercalcemia, a condition in which your blood contains an abnormally high level of calcium, you should avoid them at all costs.

Also, calcium supplements at high doses may increase the risk of heart disease. However, science is still inconclusive about this relation. Similarly, there’s an ongoing debate about whether calcium affects prostate cancer probability.

Either way, you should learn the proper calcium intake for persons of your weight and blood type. If you stick to the guidelines, calcium can promote better bone health and prevent any cardio issues. So, speak with your doctor to summarize a plan.

6.  Who may not benefit from calcium supplements?

If you are suffering from any chronic disease, it’ll be hard to boost your calcium levels with supplements. Also, calcium supplements don’t work well with other meds. Thus, it can disturb your ongoing medication and treatment.

Furthermore, those who eat a healthy diet don’t need calcium supplements. Moreover, people with kidney stones should also stay away from calcium supplements.

7.  How long does it take for calcium supplements to start working?

It takes two to four hours for your body to digest calcium supplements, depending on the type. For example, carbonate ions powder is digested around 40 minutes faster than calcium citrate pills.

Conclusion: How To Take Calcium Supplements for Best Absorption?

Calcium is an essential mineral for preserving proper bone health and an active lifestyle. As such, aside from the bones and teeth, it also affects your muscles, neurons, and arteries. There are several other kinds of supplements that you can consider consuming like Magnesium supplement & Vitamin D supplements

Consult your physician to see whether including a calcium supplement in your daily schedule can benefit your general health and well-being. Also, remember that calcium supplements are also a type of meds. Hence, you should monitor your intake at all times and react at the first sight of trouble.

Share this Article