Calcium Supplement Review

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  Evaluated for:
Effectiveness Rating Effectiveness Rating
Premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
+3 (Strong Evidence)
+2 (Moderate Evidence)
Fracture prevention
+2 (Moderate Evidence)


  • Calcium supplements have consistently been shown to help prevent osteoporosis in both women and men. Although the actual amount of bone preserved is quite small, every little bit counts when it comes to decreasing the risk of fractures.
  • Calcium supplements significantly improve premenstrual symptoms. These include irritability, water retention, food cravings and cramps.
  • Calcium has a high safety rating and rarely causes side effects.


  • It is unclear whether it is calcium itself that actually prevents fractures, and future studies are needed for clarification.
  • Side effects, while rare, can include constipation, bloating, and possibly kidney stones. Taking calcium with 100 mg of magnesium helps prevent constipation.
  • The impact of adding calcium is not completely understood. Most osteoporosis studies used calcium along with vitamin D.
  • Calcium in the form of calcium carbonate must be taken with meals. Calcium as calcium citrate is more easily absorbed and can therefore be taken either with or between meals, but it is more expensive.
  • The best source of calcium is always whole food.

Avoid supplements made from dolomite, oyster shells or bone meal because they may contain lead. Calcium supplements may interfere with the absorption of other medications, so discuss the timing of their use with your doctor. Postmenopausal women should consult their health care providers about side effects relating to heart health. People with conditions that put them at high risk of hypercalcemia, or high blood calcium levels, (such as hyperparathyroidism, sarcoidosis, and certain cancers) should also consult a physician.

DOSAGE:You’ll want to get 1200 mg of calcium each day (divided in 2 doses) through a combination of supplements and food. We also recommend adding 800 IU of Vitamin D3 per day (to aid in calcium absorption), plus 400 mg Magnesium per day (to counter calcium’s tendency to constipate). To treat premenstrual syndrome, take 600 to 800 mg twice a day with meals, but expect that it will be several months before you feel improvement.

CONCLUSION:We conclude that calcium is a safe and effective product for the treatment of premenstrual syndrome and for the prevention of osteoporosis and fractures. While its benefit for preventing bone loss is small and it should not be used alone to treat osteoporosis, it is a safe and standard osteoporosis treatment. It provides the greatest benefit when taken along with Vitamin D, magnesium, and with meals. If you are lactose intolerant, you are likely to require a supplement. If, on the other hand, you tolerate dairy well, you should be able to get at least half of your calcium in milk, cheese, yogurt and other dairy products. If you do elect to try it, remember to include it in your list of medications when you visit your doctor and other health care providers.

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