MENU
ConsumerLab.com Answers

Calcium Supplements Reviewed by ConsumerLab.com

Getting the Right Amount of Calcium

Question:
How much calcium from supplements is too much?

Answer:
Maintaining adequate calcium intake is important for bone and cardiovascular health. However, getting too much calcium, particularly from supplements, can be harmful, and has been associated with an increased risk of prostate cancer, kidney stones, and heart attack -- especially in post-menopausal women. Getting too much calcium from supplements has also been associated with an increased risk of age-related macular degeneration. Use of calcium supplements may increase the risk of dementia in elderly women who have evidence of cerebrovascular disease or who have a history of stroke.

For adults over age 50, 1,200 mg is the recommended daily intake of calcium from food and supplements combined (for adults under 50, it's 1,000 mg, while for older kids and teenagers it's 1,300 mg). If you can get it all from food, great.  If you can get most of it from food, then limit your calcium supplement to just the amount you need.  It is generally felt that calcium supplementation should not exceed 500 mg per dose and no more than 900 mg per day.  

More information about calcium, including amounts of calcium in foods and our tests of calcium supplements, is found in the Calcium Supplements Review >>


Learn More About Calcium Supplements



Can taking fish oil or calcium supplements increase my risk of prostate cancer? My doctor recommended that I stop taking them since I have an enlarged prostate. >>

Is there a danger of getting too much calcium from Tums? I take them frequently for heartburn. >>

Is it important to take calcium and magnesium together? >>

Is it safer to get calcium from foods than from supplements? How about from calcium-fortified orange juice and non-dairy milks? >>

I've read of dangers from taking calcium supplements -- such as the risk of developing arterial calcifications. I can't seem to find a multivitamin without calcium. Can you help me? >>



See other recent and popular questions >>
Comments
Add Comment

David12835   March 19, 2017
I take a "One A day Men's" multivitamin a day. However, I take it every other day - about 3-4 days a week. My diet is pretty balanced so it's more for insurance purposes if you will.

It contains 200mg of Calcium elemental.

1) Even though I believe I consume adequate calcium in my diet...is this small amount of calcium from the multivitamin of concern?

2) Is elemental safer than carbonate?

Thank you.

ConsumerLab.com   March 20, 2017
Hi David - Taking it every other day is not a bad idea if you are just taking it as "insurance." As noted elsewhere, if you are definitely already getting the daily requirement of calcium, you don't need the 200 mg. If you are borderline, the 200 mg every other day should be fine. You can't actually take "elemental" calcium - it is always combined with another compound. Calcium carbonate is fine.

David12841   March 20, 2017
My calcium levels were tested and were in the Normal range.

If one is getting too much calcium from supplements or otherwise to where it could cause kidney stone or artery calcification issues, is this going to show up in blood work as ABOVE normal?

ConsumerLab.com   July 28, 2017
Hi David - You may not see a rise in your serum calcium level from taking calcium supplements, as our bodies typically do a good job at keeping levels fairly steady. However, there may be a significant increase in urine calcium levels (Samozai J Nutr Health Aging 2015 -- https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25923483).

Leonard11634   January 30, 2017
As for osteoporosis prevention and treatment the plant-based calcium like Algae Cal is pretty popular. At the Consumer Lab Calcium section I see information that such products can increase bone density by 1%-4% a year. Could you please inform which of these products is most effective and safe?

ConsumerLab.com   February 8, 2017
Hi Leonard - Please see this CL Answer: https://www.consumerlab.com/answers/_/AlgaeCal/

Jolanta1731   May 27, 2015
I had Thyroid surgery years ago and after that was left with low calcium levels in my blood. For years I am taking very high doses of Calcium otherwise my fingers and legs are going to sleep. I am taking liquid Calcium. Is it better then regular calcium pills?

ConsumerLab.com   May 28, 2015
Hi Jolanta - As long as a calcium pill can properly disintegrate in solution (a test ConsumerLab.com performs on all tablets and caplets), it should be as effective as a liquid supplement. You can see our test results for popular calcium supplements here: https://www.consumerlab.com/reviews//calcium/#results

Leah6911   August 27, 2015
I, also had parathyroid surgery (I believe you meant parathyroid, as those are the glands that control calcium levels in the body) and was on very high doses of calcium for almost a year. I had been maintaining on 1000--2000 mg calcium daily, but was looking for a more natural form of obtaining my calcium. I recently stopped taking my calcium and switched to an herb, yellow dock, which I was told was high in calcium. Within three weeks, I could barely move my legs. When I figured out what had happened, I immediately went back on my calcium and, within an hour, was back to normal. I, then, researched this herb and discovered that it can lead to hypocalcemia (low calcium). It was a very frightening experience. I am sticking to my calcium supplements.

Roy82   August 3, 2014
One added thought: The calcium in SILK and Orange Juice is CaCO3, the same stuff as most supplements, thus really NOT a "food" source. Kale contains the most Calcium of all veggies, and it's absorbed from out gut; the Ca in Spinach is not aborbed due to oxalic acid content of this veg. BTW, these are two of highest Vitamin K content vegs. (See USDA SR-17 for breakdown of foods).

Roy81   August 3, 2014
I think it's good that ConsumerLab is saying to not exceed 500mg Ca per serving. Studies seem to indicate that Supplemental CA increases the risk of calcium buildup in arteries, but that from foods does not do this.

I was diagnosed with Osteoporosis (tho' a husky male) in 1997, and tho' purposely avoiding fosamax and other bisphosphonates, managed to improve bone density rather than loosing it with increasing age (DEXA scan now @ 76 rates me as Osteopeia). This was accomplished with exercise, testosterone cypionate injections, supplemental calcium (I'm allergic to milk) and vitamin D3 (25 OH=60). Unfortunately a recent heart scan resulted in a coronary artery calcium score of 1350 or 75th percentile, a significant risk factor, but no symptoms. This with all green lipid results since 2006 on Berkeley and HDL panels.

My Endocrinologist is now telling me to get 1000 mg of Ca daily from food and supplements combined and to limit individual Ca doses. I've switched to the Forks over Knives whole plant foods diet to try to improve that calcium score in 2-3 years.

Roger426   January 25, 2015
Docs and nutritionists argue over Calcium. A supplement of 1000 is an awful lot, because it would be added to what you get from your diet. Many docs (my buddies) throw calcium around like water. If you eat veggies, you get some calcium, and if you eat "tons" of red meat you may need extra calcium, as it is used to neutralize the acid made as the meat is digested. Increasingly recognized is that you need magnesium to go with your calcium, in relatively similar doses. But this is complicated. Vegetable foods have both minerals, maybe why calcium from food is not toxic, but from supplements calcium can increase heart disease. Magnesium comes in many different salts, and the cheapest oxide is poorly absorbed in many people, so use mag citrate or chloride or malate or taurate or glycerinate. Mg citrate can make the bowel loose, the others not as much. Magnesium has multiple beneficial effects on insomnia, tight muscles, cramps, restless legs, irritable mood, helps maintain blood pressure in normal range, migraines, and even seizures in pregnancy. (Now you see why we're trying to figure out the right balance between calcium and magnesium.)

This CL Answer initially posted on 4/25/2014. Last updated 8/8/2017.

Add Comment...

Share your thoughts and comments about this topic in the space below. Please abide by the following rules:
  • If you make a statement of fact, such as whether a type of treatment does or does not work, state your basis -- such as personal experience or a published study.
  • If you make a positive or negative comment about a product, note whether or not you have a financial interest in the product or in a competing product.
  • Please be respectful in your tone.
  • Please do not submit any type of HTML markup or scripting as it will not be accepted.
Comment:

Add Comment...

Share your thoughts and comments about this topic in the space below. Please abide by the following rules:
  • If you make a statement of fact, such as whether a type of treatment does or does not work, state your basis -- such as personal experience or a published study.
  • If you make a positive or negative comment about a product, note whether or not you have a financial interest in the product or in a competing product.
  • Please be respectful in your tone.
  • Please do not submit any type of HTML markup or scripting as it will not be accepted.
Comment:

Edit Comment...

You can modify your comment below. Please be aware the comment will have to approve the changes before they will be shown:
Comment: