Not all supplements calcium are the same; You may have noticed that some types contain calcium citrate, while others contain calcium carbonate. Although both provide a healthy dose of this mineral, they may differ in how easily your body absorbs calcium. Check with your doctor before taking supplements of any kind. You may need one if you are not getting adequate amounts of calcium with your diet.
Your body can absorb calcium better in an acidic environment and, because calcium citrate is an acid molecule, it does not require stomach acids to be easily absorbed. Nutritionist Gloria Tsang points out that if you have low levels of stomach acid, your body will be able to degrade more easily and use the calcium of calcium citrate. However, this supplement usually contains less elemental calcium for each pill than calcium carbonate, so you may have to increase the dose. Also, if you suffer from heartburn, calcium citrate can make your symptoms worse.
You probably have a bottle of calcium carbonate in your home; This form of calcium is found in many common brands of antacid pills. Unlike calcium citrate, calcium carbonate is alkaline and requires extra stomach acid to digest and absorb it. Tsang recommends that you consume it immediately after eating or together with a glass of orange juice. Remember that calcium carbonate gives you more elemental calcium for each pill than calcium citrate and you may not have to take more than one pill or pill at a time.
Most people get adequate amounts of calcium through their balanced daily diet. If you need to take supplements, it is better to start small so that your body can get used to it. Your body can absorb only 500 mg at a time and the University of Maryland Medical Center recommends starting with a daily dose in the first week and then adding a second daily dose. The recommended daily dose of calcium is 1,000 mg per day; after 50 years of age, women need 1, 200 mg.
Follow the recommended doses carefully, regardless of the type of supplement you take. Harvard Health Publications warns that, in some cases, excess calcium can produce hypercalcemia, a condition that causes confusion, nausea, vomiting and nervous problems. In addition, large doses of calcium from foods or supplements can interact negatively with medications such as antibiotics and some types of blood pressure regulators. Inform your doctor about all medications and supplements you consume.