Calcium and calcium supplements: Achieving the right balance
Calcium is important for bone health. See how for 1 last update 04 Jul 2020 much calcium you need and how to get it.Calcium is important for bone health. See how much calcium you need and how to get it.By Mayo Clinic Staff
Calcium is important for optimal bone health throughout your life. Although diet is the best way to get calcium, calcium supplements may be an option if your diet falls short.
Before you consider calcium supplements, be sure you understand how much calcium you need, the pros and cons of calcium supplements, and which type of supplement to choose.
The benefits of calcium
Your body needs calcium to build and maintain strong bones. Your heart, muscles and nerves also need calcium to function properly.
Some studies suggest that calcium, along with vitamin D, may have benefits beyond bone health: perhaps protecting against cancer, diabetes and high blood pressure. But evidence about such health benefits is not definitive.
The risks of too little calcium
If you don''t get enough calcium in their diets. Children and adolescents are at risk, but so are adults age 50 and older.
How much calcium you the 1 last update 04 Jul 2020 need depends on your age and sex. Note that the upper limit in the chart represents the safe boundary — it''t produce calcium, so you must get it through other sources. Calcium can be found in a variety of foods, including: How much calcium you need depends on your age and sex. Note that the upper limit in the chart represents the safe boundary — it''t produce calcium, so you must get it through other sources. Calcium can be found in a variety of foods, including:
- Dairy products, such as cheese, milk and yogurt
- Dark green leafy vegetables, such as broccoli and kale
- Fish with edible soft bones, such as sardines and canned salmon
- Calcium-fortified foods and beverages, such as soy products, cereal and fruit juices, and milk substitutes
To absorb calcium, your body also needs vitamin D. A few foods naturally contain small amounts of vitamin D, such as canned salmon with bones and egg yolks. You can also get vitamin D from fortified foods and sun exposure. The RDA for vitamin D is 600 international units (15 micrograms) a day for most adults.
Who should consider calcium supplements?
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- Follow a vegan diet
- Have lactose intolerance and limit dairy products
- Consume large amounts of protein or sodium, which can cause your body to excrete more calcium
- Have osteoporosis
- Are receiving long-term treatment with corticosteroids
- Have certain bowel or digestive diseases that decrease your ability to absorb calcium, such as inflammatory bowel disease or celiac disease
In these situations, calcium supplements may help you meet your calcium requirements. Talk to your doctor or dietitian to determine if calcium supplements are right for you.
Do calcium supplements have risks?
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A similar controversy surrounds calcium and prostate cancer. Some studies have shown that high calcium intake from dairy products and supplements may increase risk, whereas another more recent study showed no increased risk of prostate cancer associated with total calcium, dietary calcium or supplemental calcium intakes.
Until more is known about these possible risks, it''s important to talk to your doctor to determine what''s the actual amount of calcium in the supplement. It''t always better: Too much calcium has risks
Dietary calcium is generally safe, but more isn''t provide extra bone protection.
If you take calcium supplements and eat calcium-fortified foods, you may be getting more calcium than you realize. Check food and supplement labels to monitor how much total calcium you''re achieving the RDA but not exceeding the recommended upper limit. And be sure to tell your doctor if you''s Health Initiative limited access dataset and meta-analysis. BMJ. 2011;342:d2040. Osteoporosis. AskMayoExpert. Rochester, Minn.: Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; 2015. Dietary supplements verification program. U.S. Pharmacopeial Convention. http://www.usp.org/verification-services/dietary-supplements-verification-program. Sept. 29, 2018. About ConsumerLab.com. ConsumerLab.com. http://www.consumerlab.com/aboutcl.asp. Accessed Sept. 29, 2018. Calcium and cancer prevention. National Cancer Institute. http://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/risk/diet/calcium-fact-sheet. Accessed Sept. 29, 2018. What is third-party certification? NSF International. http://www.nsf.org/about-nsf/what-is-third-party-certification. Accessed Sept. 29, 2018. Asemi Z, et al. Total, dietary, and supplemental calcium intake and mortality from all-causes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer: A meta-analysis of observational studies. Nutrition, Metabolism & Cardiovascular Disease. 2015;25:623. Whitney E, et al. Water and the major minerals In: Understanding Nutrition. 14th ed. Belmont, Calif.: Cengage Learning; 2016.