Supplements

Calcium Supplements: What You Need to Know

June 11, 2018   /

 

 

Reviewed and updated by Anne Danahy, MS, RDN, LDN

 

The following table shows the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for calcium by age group and gender.

 

Age

Male

Female

Pregnant

Lactating

Birth-6 months

200 mg

200 mg

 

 

7-12 months

260 mg

260 mg

 

 

1-3 years

700 mg

700 mg

 

 

4-8 years

1000 mg

1000 mg

 

 

9-13 years

1300 mg

1300 mg

 

 

14-18 years

1300 mg

1300 mg

1300 mg

1300 mg

19-50 years

1000 mg

1000 mg

1000 mg

1000 mg

51-70  years

1000 mg

1200 mg

 

 

71+ years

1200 mg

1200 mg

 

 

mg=milligrams

 

The different forms of calcium

The 2 most commonly available forms of calcium are calcium carbonate and calcium citrate. People with reduced levels of stomach acids absorb the citrate form better than the carbonate form. This is why it is recommended that people taking acid blockers for indigestion, reflux, or other conditions take calcium citrate rather than calcium carbonate.

Calcium carbonate is better absorbed when taken with food, but calcium citrate is equally well absorbed whether taken with or without food. Calcium citrate usually is more expensive than calcium carbonate. Other forms of calcium found in foods and supplements include gluconate, lactate, and phosphate.

Calcium citrate malate is well absorbed and is most often found in fortified fruit juices.

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Calcium absorption

The percentage of calcium absorbed depends on the amount of elemental calcium consumed at one time. As the amount of elemental calcium increases, the percentage that will become absorbed decreases. Absorption is best if a supplement contains no more than 500 mg of elemental calcium taken at one time. This is why it is recommended that you split up your calcium supplements by taking them at separate times throughout the day.

The amount of elemental calcium is listed in milligrams on the Nutrition Facts label, according to serving size. Vitamin D promotes calcium absorption and is needed along with calcium to maintain bone density. Many calcium supplements also contain vitamin D.

 

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