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Osteoporosis Center

Quillen College of Medicine

Calcium Supplementation



The human body is incapable of producing calcium on its own; therefore, you must obtain calcium through proper nutritional intake. The body loses calcium every day through the skin, nails, hair, and sweat, as well as through urine and feces. If the body does not obtain enough calcium, it starts to withdraw calcium from the bones, which ultimately causes them to become weak and brittle, and can potentially lead to osteoporosis.


Calcium Requirements

  • Adult men and premenopausal women: 1,000 mg

  • Pregnant and nursing women: 1,200 mg

  • Postmenopausal women not on hormone therapy: 1,500 mg  

  • Postmenopausal women on hormone therapy: 1,000 mg


Absorption through food is the best source of calcium; yet most people do not receive enough through their diet.  Calcium supplements and foods fortified with calcium can help complete your nutritional needs.



Types of Calcium Supplements
*These are meant to supplement, NOT to replace calcium from your diet.

Calcium Citrate (Citracal)
The most recommended type of calcium supplement, because it can be taken at any time during the day.

Calcium Carbonate (Tums, Viactiv, Os-Cal, Rolaids)
Best taken at mealtimes due to potential side effects such as gas, bloating, and constipation.

All calcium supplements should be taken with plenty of water to avoid the risk of kidney stones (8 oz. for every 300 mg of calcium).

It is also important to spread the dosage throughout the day, as only about 500 mg can be absorbed by your body at a time.

Vitamin D
In order for calcium to be absorbed properly it needs to be taken with vitamin D.  Your body obtains vitamin D through sunlight exposure and diet. The minimum daily requirements for vitamin D are 400 IU (for those younger than 65) and 800 IU (for those 65 years and older).

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