calcium carbonate (generic name)
- Auto Immune Conditions
- Bladder & Kidney Health
- Brain & Nervous System
- Care Transitions
- Dental Health
- Emotional Health
- Eye Health
- Falls Prevention
- Financial Planning
- General Safety
- Health Care Basics
- Healthy Living
- Hearing Loss
- Heart Health
- High Blood Pressure
- Life Transitions
- Lung Health
- Men's Health
- Nutrition & Weight Management
- Pain Management
- Preventive Health
- Sexual Health
- Stomach & Digestive Health
- Stress & Anxiety
- Women's Health
TraditionWARNING: DISCLAIMER: The below uses are based on tradition, scientific theories, or limited research. They often have not been thoroughly tested in humans, and safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider. There may be other proposed uses that are not listed below.
Bone density improvement (lactating women), bone loss, carcinoma, cardiac arrest, diarrhea, high cholesterol, intestinal disorders, ischemic stroke (prevention), leg cramps (pregnancy), medullary thyroid cancer (diagnosis), multiple sclerosis, neuromuscular blockade (antagonize), psoriasis, reducing fluoride levels (children), Zollinger-Ellison (diagnosis).
A good food source of calcium contains a substantial amount of calcium in relation to its calorie content and contributes at least 10 percent of the U.S. Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for calcium in a selected serving size. The RDA for calcium is 1,000 milligrams per day for adults (except pregnant or lactating women) and children over four years of age and is used as the standard in nutrition labeling of foods. This allowance is based on the 1968 RDA for 24 sex-age categories set by the Food and Nutrition Board of the National Academy of Sciences. Adequate intake (AI) recommendations published in August 1997 were set at 1,000 milligrams for men and women aged 19-50 and 1,200 milligrams for individuals older than age 50.
Adults (over 18 years old)
Doses ranging from 400-3,000 milligrams daily of a calcium supplement have been taken by mouth in several studies. Note that there are many forms available. Different conditions may require unique dosing and should be discussed with a qualified healthcare provider. Intravenous (through the vein) calcium may be given by a qualified healthcare provider.
Children (under 18 years old)
Healthy adolescents have received a calcium supplement containing 1,000 milligrams supplemental calcium daily as calcium citrate malate for 14 days, or 1,000 milligrams effervescent calcium tablet daily. A dose of 850 milligrams daily calcium has also been given orally to prepubescent boys in food products. Special dosing may be recommended by a qualified healthcare provider for certain indications.
SafetyDISCLAIMER: Many complementary techniques are practiced by healthcare professionals with formal training, in accordance with the standards of national organizations. However, this is not universally the case, and adverse effects are possible. Due to limited research, in some cases only limited safety information is available.
Avoid in individuals with a known allergy/hypersensitivity to calcium supplements or any of their ingredients. Some people are lactose intolerant. Dairy products contain lactose and dairy products are a common food source of calcium. Lactose intolerance can cause cramping, bloating, gas, and diarrhea. Lactose intolerance affects the population in varying degrees.
Avoid calcium supplementation in those who are very sensitive to any component of a calcium-containing supplement, or who have hypercalcaemia (high levels of calcium in the blood). Conditions causing hypercalcaemia include sarcoidosis (inflammation in the lymph nodes and other organs), hyperparathyroidism (high levels of parathyroid hormone), and hypervitaminosis D (high levels of vitamin D).
Side Effects and Warnings
Calcium supplementation is likely safe when used orally and intravenously, as recommended by a qualified healthcare professional. It is also likely safe when used orally and appropriately in pregnancy and lactation, as recommended by a qualified healthcare professional. Routine dietary intake and supplementation in recommended doses are not associated with significant adverse effects.
Avoid calcium supplements made from dolomite, oyster shells, or bone meal because such compounds may contain unacceptable levels of lead. Avoid in patients with hypercalcaemia (high blood levels of calcium), hypercalciuria (high levels of calcium in urine), hyperparathyroidism (high levels of parathyroid hormone), bone tumors, digitalis toxicity, ventricular fibrillation (ventricles of the heart contract in unsynchronized rhythm), kidney stones (renal calculi), kidney disease or disorders, and sarcoidosis (inflammation of lymph nodes and various other tissues).
Excretion of abnormally large amounts of calcium in the urine is a well-established side effect of administration.
Low levels of calcium in the blood and tissues can cause sensations of tingling, numbness, muscle twitches, and muscle spasms (tetany). This condition is more likely to be due to a hormonal imbalance in the regulation of calcium rather than a dietary deficiency.
Excess calcium in the blood can be without symptoms or it can cause loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, constipation, abdominal pain, dry mouth, thirst, frequent urination, and calcium deposition in the heart and kidneys. More severe hypercalcaemia may result in confusion, delirium, coma, and if not treated, death. Hypercalcaemia has been reported only with the consumption of large quantities of calcium supplements usually in combination with antacids, particularly in the past when peptic ulcers were treated with large quantities of milk, calcium carbonate (antacid) and sodium bicarbonate (absorbable alkalai).
Avoid high doses of calcium without food in those who are prone to the formation of calcium-containing kidney stones, as calcium supplementation in the absence of food may be associated with an increased risk of calcium oxalate stone formation. Consult a qualified healthcare professional if you are prone to kidney stones before using calcium supplements.
Use cautiously in those with achlorhydria (absence of hydrochloric acid or HCl in gastric juices) as low levels of gastric acid during digestion reduces urinary phosphate and calcium excretion. It may be advisable to take calcium carbonate with food to stimulate gastric acid production. Consult a qualified healthcare provider.
Avoid cigarette smoking, as this decreases intestinal calcium absorption and may lead to decreased bone mineral density.
Use cautiously if taking large amounts of vitamin D. Excess calcium in the blood (hypercalcaemia) can cause nausea, vomiting and calcium deposition in the heart and kidneys. This usually results from excessive doses of vitamin D and can be fatal in infants. Consult a qualified healthcare provider.
Use cautiously in individuals with heart arrhythmias and ventricular fibrillation (irregular heart beating). Large fluctuations in free calcium during intravenous calcium infusion can cause the heart to slow down or beat too rapidly. Although calcium appears to have benefits on bone density and osteoporosis, calcium should be used cautiously in postmenopausal women due to an increased possibility of cardiovascular side effects. Consult a qualified healthcare provider.
Pregnancy and Breastfeeding
The Standing Committee on the Scientific Evaluation of Dietary Reference Intakes, Food, and Nutrition Board suggests that current calcium recommendations for non-pregnant women are also sufficient for pregnant women because intestinal calcium absorption increases during pregnancy.
Pregnant women are especially vulnerable to accelerated bone turnover due to the physiologic stress of pregnancy and lactation. Studies indicate that pregnant women should take calcium supplements to prevent bone density loss. The National Academy of Sciences recommends that women who are pregnant or breastfeeding consume calcium each day. For pregnant teens, the recommended intake is higher.
Consult a qualified healthcare professional to determine dosing during pregnancy and breastfeeding.