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How Can You Get the Most Out of Your Calcium Supplements?

By
Monica Reinagel, MS, LD/N, CNS
2-minute read

Contrary to what you may have heard, most people actually get the recommended amount of calcium...and those who take calcium supplements often take way too much. Find out whether you need a calcium supplement and how much you should be taking in this week's show.   

If you do decide you need a supplement, here are three tips to help you get the most out of them.

1. Take calcium supplements with meals.  Stomach acid helps break down the chemical bonds in calcium supplements. Taking your calcium supplement with meals--which triggers the secretion of digestive juices--instead of on an empty stomach will enhance absorption.  
 
2. If you take acid-blocking medication, take calcium citrate.  Once you start shopping for calcium supplements, you'll find all kinds of options. There's a lot of hoo-ha over which ones are best absorbed. But keep in mind that the recommended intake is based on the assumption that you'll only absorb about 1/3 of the calcium you take in, anyway. For most people, calcium carbonate (which is also the cheapest) works just fine. But if you take acid-blocking medications, you might want to pay a little extra for a supplement made with calcium citrate, instead.

Related content: How to Avoid Acid Reflux

3. Keep calcium and iron separate. If you also take a supplement that contains iron, such as a multi-vitamin, take it at a different time of day than you take your calcium supplement. Taking calcium and iron together can hinder your ability to absorb the iron.   Try taking your iron supplement or multivitamin with lunch and your calcium with dinner.

I talk more about calcium supplements and how to figure out whether you should be taking them in chapter 9 of my new book.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock

 

About the Author

Monica Reinagel, MS, LD/N, CNS

Monica Reinagel is a board-certified licensed nutritionist, author, and the creator of one of iTunes' most highly ranked health and fitness podcasts. Her advice is regularly featured on the TODAY show, Dr. Oz, NPR, and in the nation's leading newspapers, magazines, and websites. Do you have a nutrition question? Call the Nutrition Diva listener line at 443-961-6206. Your question could be featured on the show.