Calcium Supplement (Oral Route, Parenteral Route)Drug Information provided by: Micromedex
US Brand Names
Canadian Brand Names
Calcium supplements are taken by individuals who are unable to get enough calcium in their regular diet or who have a need for more calcium. They are used to prevent or treat several conditions that may cause hypocalcemia (not enough calcium in the blood). The body needs calcium to make strong bones. Calcium is also needed for the heart, muscles, and nervous system to work properly.
The bones serve as a storage site for the body's calcium. They are continuously giving up calcium to the bloodstream and then replacing it as the body's need for calcium changes from day to day. When there is not enough calcium in the blood to be used by the heart and other organs, your body will take the needed calcium from the bones. When you eat foods rich in calcium, the calcium will be restored to the bones and the balance between your blood and bones will be maintained.
Pregnant women, nursing mothers, children, and adolescents may need more calcium than they normally get from eating calcium-rich foods. Adult women may take calcium supplements to help prevent a bone disease called osteoporosis. Osteoporosis, which causes thin, porous, easily broken bones, may occur in women after menopause, but may sometimes occur in elderly men also. Osteoporosis in women past menopause is thought to be caused by a reduced amount of ovarian estrogen (a female hormone). However, a diet low in calcium for many years, especially in the younger adult years, may add to the risk of developing it. Other bone diseases in children and adults are also treated with calcium supplements.
Calcium supplements may also be used for other conditions as determined by your health care professional.
A calcium "salt" contains calcium along with another substance, such as carbonate or gluconate. Some calcium salts have more calcium (elemental calcium) than others. For example, the amount of calcium in calcium carbonate is greater than that in calcium gluconate. To give you an idea of how different calcium supplements vary in calcium content, the following chart explains how many tablets of each type of supplement will provide 1000 milligrams of elemental calcium. When you look for a calcium supplement, be sure the number of milligrams on the label refers to the amount of elemental calcium, and not to the strength of each tablet.
Injectable calcium is administered only by or under the supervision of your health care professional. Other forms of calcium are available without a prescription.
Once a medicine or dietary supplement has been approved for marketing for a certain use, experience may show that it is also useful for other medical problems. Although this use is not included in product labeling, calcium supplements are used in certain patients with the following medical condition:
- Hyperphosphatemia (too much phosphate in the blood)
For good health, it is important that you eat a balanced and varied diet. Follow carefully any diet program your health care professional may recommend. For your specific dietary vitamin and/or mineral needs, ask your health care professional for a list of appropriate foods. If you think that you are not getting enough vitamins and/or minerals in your diet, you may choose to take a dietary supplement.
The daily amount of calcium needed is defined in several different ways.
- For U.S.—
- Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDAs) are the amount of vitamins and minerals needed to provide for adequate nutrition in most healthy persons. RDAs for a given nutrient may vary depending on a person's age, sex, and physical condition (e.g., pregnancy).
- Daily Values (DVs) are used on food and dietary supplement labels to indicate the percent of the recommended daily amount of each nutrient that a serving provides. DV replaces the previous designation of United States Recommended Daily Allowances (USRDAs).
- For Canada—
- Recommended Nutrient Intakes (RNIs) are used to determine the amounts of vitamins, minerals, and protein needed to provide adequate nutrition and lessen the risk of chronic disease.
Normal daily recommended intakes in milligrams (mg) for calcium are generally defined as follows:
|Persons||U.S. (mg)||Canada (mg)|
|Infants birth to 3 years of age||400 to 800||250 to 550|
|Children 4 to 6 years of age||800||600|
|Children 7 to 10 years of age||800||700 to 1100|
|Adolescent and adult males||800 to 1200||800 to 1100|
|Adolescent and adult females||800 to 1200||700 to 1100|
|Pregnant females||1200||1200 to 1500|
|Breast-feeding females||1200||1200 to 1500|
Getting the proper amount of calcium in the diet every day and participating in weight-bearing exercise (walking, dancing, bicycling, aerobics, jogging), especially during the early years of life (up to about 35 years of age) is most important in helping to build and maintain bones as dense as possible to prevent the development of osteoporosis in later life.
The following table includes some calcium-rich foods. The calcium content of these foods can supply the daily RDA or RNI for calcium if the foods are eaten regularly in sufficient amounts.
|Food (amount)||Milligrams (mg) of calcium|
|Nonfat dry milk, reconstituted (1 cup)||375|
|Lowfat, skim, or whole milk (1 cup)||290 to 300|
|Yogurt (1 cup)||275 to 400|
|Sardines with bones (3 ounces)||370|
|Ricotta cheese, part skim (½ cup)||340|
|Salmon, canned, with bones (3 ounces)||285|
|Cheese, Swiss (1 ounce)||272|
|Cheese, cheddar (1 ounce)||204|
|Cheese, American (1 ounce)||174|
|Cottage cheese, lowfat (1 cup)||154|
|Tofu (4 ounces)||154|
|Shrimp (1 cup)||147|
|Ice milk (¾ cup)||132|
Vitamin D helps prevent calcium loss from your bones. It is sometimes called "the sunshine vitamin" because it is made in your skin when you are exposed to sunlight. If you get outside in the sunlight every day for 15 to 30 minutes, you should get all the vitamin D you need. However, in northern locations in winter, the sunlight may be too weak to make vitamin D in the skin. Vitamin D may also be obtained from your diet or from multivitamin preparations. Most milk is fortified with vitamin D.
Do not use bonemeal or dolomite as a source of calcium. The Food and Drug Administration has issued warnings that bonemeal and dolomite could be dangerous because these products may contain lead.
This product is available in the following dosage forms:
- Tablet, Chewable
- Powder for Suspension
- Capsule, Liquid Filled
- Tablet, Effervescent
- Tablet, Extended Release