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Calcium supplements: yes or no?

Calcium supplements are dietary products that come in various forms, such as calcium carbonate, calcium citrate, calcium gluconate, or calcium lactate. They serve as a convenient means to ensure adequate calcium intake, especially when dietary sources fall short.


Among the different types of calcium supplements, calcium carbonate is often considered the most cost-effective option due to its high concentration of elemental calcium (approximately 40% by weight). It is recommended to take calcium carbonate supplements with food, as stomach acid aids in their absorption.


However, the decision to use calcium supplements should be approached with caution. While calcium supplements offer benefits for bone health and preventing conditions like osteoporosis, improper use or overconsumption can lead to health problems.


In this short explanation, we will explore some of the pros and cons of calcium supplements, emphasizing their impact on bone health and potential risks associated with misuse. It is essential to use these supplements responsibly and consult with a healthcare professional to determine individual calcium needs and ensure safe and appropriate usage.



Pros of Calcium Supplements:

  • Preventing Osteoporosis: Adequate calcium intake can reduce the risk of osteoporosis, a condition characterized by weakened bones and fractures.

  • Convenience: Supplements provide a convenient way to ensure sufficient daily calcium intake, especially for individuals with dietary restrictions or preferences.

  • Bone Health during Pregnancy and Lactation: Pregnant and breastfeeding women may need extra calcium, and supplements can help meet these increased requirements.

Cons of Calcium Supplements:

  • Risk of Overconsumption: Taking too much calcium can lead to hypercalcemia, causing symptoms like kidney stones, nausea, and weakness.

  • Interference with Other Minerals: Excessive calcium intake can interfere with the absorption of other minerals like iron and zinc.

  • Cardiovascular Risks: Some studies suggest that excessive calcium supplementation might increase the risk of cardiovascular events, though more research is needed to confirm this association.

  • Digestive Issues: Calcium supplements may cause gastrointestinal discomfort, including constipation, gas, and bloating, especially if taken in high doses.


Calcium supplements play a crucial role in supporting bone health and preventing conditions like osteoporosis. They offer a convenient solution to meet daily calcium requirements, but their usage should be approached with caution to avoid overconsumption and potential side effects.


Before starting any supplement regimen, it is advisable to consult with a healthcare professional to determine individual calcium needs and ensure safe and appropriate usage.


References:


  1. Li K, Wang XF, Li DY, Chen YC, Zhao LJ, Liu XG, Guo YF, Shen J, Lin X, Deng J, Zhou R, Deng HW. The good, the bad, and the ugly of calcium supplementation: a review of calcium intake on human health. Clin Interv Aging. 2018 Nov 28;13:2443-2452. doi: 10.2147/CIA.S157523. PMID: 30568435; PMCID: PMC6276611.



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