How to Choose a Calcium Supplement

You’ll find countless types of calcium supplements on the market. The choice between one or another will depend on your needs. Therefore, you should first consult your doctor.
How to Choose a Calcium Supplement
Saúl Sánchez Arias

Written and verified by the nutritionist Saúl Sánchez Arias.

Last update: 27 May, 2022

Sometimes, it’s necessary to take a calcium supplement to improve the intake of this nutrient. Inadequate calcium intake can trigger premature osteoporosis, especially in women who’ve reached menopause.

Typically, the assimilation of calcium is related to vitamin D levels. Because of this, it’s important to keep the values of both nutrients within the recommended levels. However, certain foods can interfere with the absorption of dietary calcium, like fiber.

To ensure the intake of this mineral, a good choice is to resort to a supplement. However, not all supplements are created equal, which is why you need to know which one to choose according to your needs.

Calcium is fundamental for bone health

Different dairy products.
Dairy products, as well as green vegetables, contain calcium. However, consuming them isn’t always enough to get the recommended daily amounts.

This mineral is directly related to bone health and functionality. In general, dairy products and leafy green vegetables are rich in calcium. However, there are situations where dietary intake is poor. Ideally, you should consume five servings of fruits and vegetables and several servings of dairy products a day, as this reduces the risk of developing a calcium deficiency.

This article may interest you: Strengthen Your Bone Health with These 8 Calcium Rich Foods

Types of calcium supplements

Calcium supplement pills.
There are various types of calcium supplements. To choose between one or another, it’s useful to know your needs.

The most common over-the-counter supplement is calcium carbonate. This is a relatively inexpensive product that’s easy to take. Often, it comes in pills or chewable tablets that contain about 200 mg of calcium per dose.

Meanwhile, the most common prescription supplement is calcium citrate. Prescription supplements are more expensive supplements, but they also have a better absorption rate. They’re used primarily in people with low gastric acid levels, which may interfere with the absorption of calcium carbonate.

Apart from these two types, you can also find calcium lactate, calcium phosphate, and calcium gluconate on the market. However, they contain less calcium than the first two we mentioned.

When it comes to choosing a calcium supplement, it’s important to opt for one that contains the word “purified” on the label. Also, it’s best to avoid products made from unrefined oyster shell, bone meal, or dolomite, as they may contain traces of heavy metals.

You should also read: Seven Tips that May Help Your Body Absorb More Calcium

How to increase your calcium intake

If you want to increase your calcium intake, it’s necessary to consider a few recommendations. First, you should always get advice from a medical professional. Then, you should gradually increase the dose of the supplement. Moreover, it’s advisable to distribute the dose throughout the day. This way, you prevent the intestinal side effects.

Also, it’s usually enough to combine calcium intake with increased vitamin D consumption. You can do this by safely exposing yourself to the sun, increasing your consumption of eggs and bluefish, or through supplements rich in this nutrient.

Precautions regarding calcium supplement intake

The worst side effects that result from overconsuming calcium may be kidney stones. This type of condition doesn’t manifest in everyone, however, but in those individuals who are predisposed to it.

Furthermore, excessive calcium intake can interfere with the absorption of other nutrients, such as iron, zinc, magnesium, and phosphorus. For this reason, you should never exceed the recommended daily doses.

If you consumed too much calcium or suffer side effects from its consumption, you should increase your intake of fluids and foods that contain a significant amount of fiber to limit its absorption.


If you’re not getting enough dietary calcium from your diet, it may be necessary to resort to a supplement. Among the different forms of presentation on the market, it’s important to choose the one that meets your needs.

However, it’s important to increase the dose gradually to prevent the manifestation of side effects. Finally, it’s noteworthy that it’s possible to combine a calcium supplement with a vitamin D supplement to maximize the absorption and bioavailability of the former. In all cases, it’s advisable to consult a doctor or nutritionist before taking any supplement so they can evaluate your needs and indicate the correct dosage.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.