It's always a good idea to take calcium supplements at a different time than when you're taking a multivitamin or an iron-rich meal. This is because calcium can affect how the body absorbs iron, zinc, and magnesium. If you're unsure of the best time to take calcium supplements, it's best to consult your doctor or pharmacist for advice. Calcium is essential for bone health throughout life.
Although diet is the best way to get calcium, if your diet is inadequate, calcium supplements may be an option. These come in various forms, such as tablets, capsules, chewable products, liquids, and powders. Taking medications or supplements that contain large amounts of calcium, magnesium, phosphates, or vitamin D may not be safe. To ensure better absorption of iron and calcium, it's recommended to eat calcium-rich foods or take calcium supplements two hours before or after taking the iron supplement. Calcium must dissolve in the stomach before it can be absorbed in the intestines and used by the body.
Calcium citrate is equally well absorbed when taken with or without food and is a recommended form for people with low levels of stomach acid (more common in people over 50 years of age or who take acid blockers), inflammatory bowel diseases, or absorption disorders. If you take calcium supplements and eat calcium-fortified foods, you may be consuming more calcium than you think. If you take more than 600 mg of calcium in supplement form per day, it's best to divide the dose to improve calcium absorption. Calcium supplements can interact with many different prescription medications, including blood pressure medications, synthetic thyroid hormones, bisphosphonates, antibiotics, and calcium channel blockers. It's also important to avoid drinking large amounts of caffeine (more than eight cups of coffee a day) or alcohol with calcium and not to smoke tobacco.
If these simple steps aren't enough to help you get enough calcium from your diet, consider taking a closer look at your diet to try to get more calcium from food and less from supplements. You can also look for symbols on the labels of calcium supplements that indicate that an independent laboratory has tested the product. These symbols include the Consumer Labs International badge, the Natural Products Association symbol, the NSF brand (NSF International) and the verified USP (United States Pharmacopoeia) brand. The table below shows the recommended daily intake of calcium depending on your age and gender. For example, if you have a health problem that causes too much calcium in your bloodstream (hypercalcemia), you should avoid taking calcium supplements.
Some health care providers may recommend slightly more calcium for people with certain medical conditions that interfere with the body's ability to use calcium efficiently. As an expert in nutrition and health care, I recommend that you always consult your doctor before taking any kind of supplement. Your doctor will be able to advise you on the best time to take your supplements and how much you should take each day. It's also important to remember that diet is still the best way to get all the nutrients your body needs. Eating a balanced diet rich in fruits and vegetables will ensure that you get all the vitamins and minerals your body needs.