Calcium is found in several forms including calcium citrate and calcium gluconate. It is the most abundant mineral in the human body. While an average man contains about 1-1/2 kg of calcium, an average woman has about 1 kg, where 99 percent of that is in bones and teeth. The remaining 1 percent is located in the blood, lymph and other body fluids, cell membranes and structures inside cells.
Calcium participates in the metabolic functions necessary for normal activity of nervous, muscular, skeletal systems and plays an important role in normal heart function, kidney function, blood clotting, and blood-vessel integrity. Additionally, it helps to utilize vitamin B-12. It is available in both natural and synthetic sources, and some forms are only available by prescription.
How This Mineral Works in Your Body:
Helps fight osteoporosis
Treats calcium depletion in people with hypoparathyroidism, osteomalacia, rickets
Used medically to treat tetany (severe muscle spasms) caused by sensitivity reactions, cardiac arrest, lead poisoning
Used medically as an cure to magnesium poisoning
Prevents muscle or leg cramps in some people
Promotes normal growth and development
Builds bones and teeth
Maintains bone density and strength
Buffers acid in stomach and acts as antacid
Helps regulate heartbeat, blood clotting, muscle contraction
Treats neonatal hypoglycemia
Promotes storage and release of some body hormones
Lowers phosphate concentrations in people with chronic kidney disease
Helps reduce blood pressure in certain people
May aid reduce possibility of kidney stones
May ease leg cramps
Potential treatment for toxemia in pregnant women
May reduce the threat of colon cancer
Anyone with inadequate caloric or dietary intake or increased nutritional requirements or those who do not like or consume milk products
People allergic to milk and dairy products
People with untreated lactase deficiency who avoid milk and dairy products
People over 55 years old, especially women
Women throughout adult life, especially during pregnancy and lactation, but not limited to these times
Those who abuse alcohol or other substances
People with a chronic wasting illness
Those under additional stress for extended periods of time
Anyone who has recently undergone surgery
People with bone fractures
Adolescents with low dietary calcium consumption
Where This Mineral is Found:
Calcium-fortified Salmon, canned
Canned fish with bones
Cereal, rice, juice
Baked beans, canned
Crab meat, canned
How to Use:
Take tables whole with a full glass of water or other liquid. Do not chew or crush the tablet. Take with meals or 1 to 1-1/2 hours after meals unless otherwise advised by your physician.
Chew chewable tablets well before swallowing.
Calcium is also available as carbonate, citrate, gluconate, and it has varying levels of bioavailability.
Daily recommended intakes:
Men 1000 mg
(14-18) 1300 mg
(over 55) 1200 mg
Women 1000 mg
(14-18) 1300 mg
(over 55) 1200 mg
Pregnancy 1000 mg
(14-18) 1300 mg
Lactation 1000 mg
(14-18) 1300 mg
Do not take if you have:
Allergies to calcium or antacids
High blood-calcium levels
Consult your doctor if you have:
Chronic constipation, colitis, diarrhea
Stomach or intestinal bleeding
Heart problems or high blood pressure for which you are taking a calcium channel blocker
The likelihood of adverse reactions and side effects is greater
Diarrhea or constipation are especially likely
You may need extra calcium while pregnant. Speak with your physician about taking supplements. Do not take super doses.
The drug does pass into milk. Speak with your physician about taking supplements. DO not take super doses.
Keep in a cool and dry location and away from direct light, but do not freeze.
Keep safely away from children
Do not keep in bathroom medicine cabinet. Heat and dampness may alter the action of the mineral.
It is advised that you consult with your physician for the proper dose for your condition
Do not take calcium within 1 or 2 hours of meals or ingestion of other medications, if possible.
It is not recommended that you take calcium carbonate derived from oyster shells.
Dolomite and bone meal are probably not safe sources of calcium because they contain lead.
Symptoms of Deficiency:
Osteoporosis (late symptoms):
Frequent fractures in spine and other bones
Deformed spinal column with humps
Loss of height
Leads to nerve and bone disorders
May lead to high blood pressure
May cause pre-eclampsia of pregnancy
May contribute to colon cancer
Signs and symptoms: What to do:
Confusion, slow or irregular heartbeat, bone or muscle pain, nausea, vomiting : Discontinue mineral use and consult your physician immediately
Heart damage : Discontinue mineral use and consult your physician immediately
(signs and symptoms of toxicity have not been viewed, even at doses of 2 to 3 grams/day).
Dial 911 (emergency), 0 for operator or call your closest Poison Control Center for immediate attention.
Lab tests for deficiency detection:
24-hour urine collection to measure calcium levels (Sulkowitch)
Imaging procedures to scan for bone density (more reliable than above test)
Serum-amylase and serum-1 hydroxycorticosteroid concentrations can
Excessive, prolonged use decreases serum-phosphate concentration.
Signs and symptoms : What to do
Early signs of too much calcium in blood:
Constipation : Increase fluid consumption. Discontinue use of mineral.
Call your physician whenconvenient.
Headache : Discontinue use of mineral. Call your physician when convenient.
Confusion : Discontinue use. Call your physician immediately.
Muscle or bone pain : Discontinue use. Call your physician immediately.
Nausea or vomiting : Discontinue use. Call your physician immediately.
Slow or irregular heartbeat : Seek emergency treatment.
Interacts with: Combined effect:
Cellulose sodium phosphate : Decreases effect of cellulose sodium phosphate
Digitalis preparations : Causes heartbeat irregularities.
Etidronate : Decreases effects of etidronate. Do not take within 2 hours of calcium supplements.
Gallium nitrate : Inhibits function of gallium nitrate.Iron supplements : Decreases absorption of iron unless vitamin C is taken simultaneously
Magnesium-containing medications or supplements : Increases absorption of magnesium and calcium.
Oral contraceptives and estrogens : May increase calcium absorption.
Phenytoin : Decreases effect of both calcium and phenytoin. Do not take calcium within 1 to 3 hours of phenytoin.
Tetracyclines (oral) : Decreases absorption of tetracycline.
Vitamin D : Increases absorption of calcium supplements.
Diuretics, corticosteroids and antidepressants : Can lead to calcium deficiency
Alcohol : Decreases your body's ability to absorb calcium
Caffeine (coffee, tea, cola, chocolate) : Can possibly decrease absorption
Aluminum in some antacids : Can interfere with the absorption of calcium