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If you have crossed the age of 30, it is most likely that you have been told it’s time to start taking calcium supplements, and in all probability you already are popping them to avoid weak bones as you age. But it isn’t as simple as it sounds- calcium supplements may be a double-edged sword.
Daily requirement of calcium for women aged 19-50 years is 1000 mg, 51-70 years is 1200 mg and 70 plus years is 1200 mg. A healthy, varied diet is likely to provide this for most people. It is possible to increase calcium levels through diet alone.
Dr Sonali Gaur MRCOG (UK), MD, Consultant Gynaecology and obstetrics, Nanavati Super Speciality Hospital explains, “Too much calcium has risks. The general advice is that patients should not self-prescribe calcium supplements, but should aim to obtain their calcium requirement (700-1000 mg/day) from a balanced diet.” In fact, ingesting too much calcium in a misguided attempt to build skeleton and may cause kidney stones, milk-alkali syndrome, or interference with iron absorption and certain medications/ treatments.
A long-term study conducted in 2013 had linked increased high calcium intake (more than 1400 mg per day) to higher death rates. The study established that people may already be getting their required calcium dosage through diet but an added pill only increased their risk of a heart attack. The same risk was proved to be true for women who consumed less than 600 mg calcium.
Adequate calcium intake can be acquired with three portions of dairy in a day. There is no age to self-prescribe calcium supplements. Dr Satish Mutha, Orthopedic, SL Raheja Fortis Hospital, Mahim says, “Women may be given dietary calcium supplements in case of dietary insufficiency or even cases where there is an issue in adequate absorption, but it still needs to be done under medical supervision.”
Around menopause, women usually experience bone pains and fatigue, this may indicate calcium deficiency, but instead of self administering it, she should head to an expert.
Not all calcium supplements are the same. ‘One type fits all’ does not apply and that’s why medical intervention is extremely important. You may be taking less or more than actually needed by your body.
Calcium consumption
Calcium is an extremely important mineral in the body. It is needed for healthy bones and teeth. It is needed for the smooth functioning of heart, nerves, and even the blood-clotting systems. Here are some important rules:
Dr Sonali shares, “Calcium absorption is increased in an acidic environment, so tablets should be taken with meals.” Intake of beverages that contain caffeine should be avoided or limited. Caffeine can decrease calcium absorption, and possibly lead to osteoporosis. Ingestion of oxalates (as in chocolate and spinach), iron (as in liver and raisins), and phytates (found in whole grains) also impair calcium absorption, she adds.
Smoking and alcohol also increase the risk of osteoporosis. Not many know that people who smoke absorb less calcium from the stomach.
You may tolerate the calcium better if you begin with 500 mg daily for a week or so, increasing slowly until you take in the recommended amount. In addition, Vitamin D helps better absorption of calcium.
Dr Pawan Ojha, Consultant Neurologist & Stroke Specialist, Fortis Hiranandani Hospital, Vashi says, “One should not take calcium supplements regularly. You should give breaks.”
Dr Swapnil Zambre, Orthopaedic and Arthroscopy Surgeon, Fortis Hospital, Kalyan adds, “Potentially dangerous calcium supplementation is known to cause gastrointestinal side effects such as constipation and dyspepsia and also interfere with absorption of various medications such as anti-hypertensives and anti-epileptics.”
Dr Varna Venugopal Rao ( Head of Department – Obstetrics & Gynaecology at Nayati Multi Super Specialty Hospital, Mathura) warns, “If you are on regular calcium supplements, serum calcium level tests should be performed periodically to monitor your progress and to avoid hypercalcemia. Check the labels on your non–prescriptions/ herbal products e.g antacids, laxatives, vitamin because they may contain calcium, phosphates or vitamin D. Ask your doctors about safety of those products. You may end up in overdose of calcium if you add calcium supplements over and above these products.”
Also, it should be noted that calcium supplements may interfere with certain laboratory tests (including cholesterol tests), possibly causing false tests results. Make sure that laboratory personnel knows you are using the supplement before you are tested.
Calcium rich foods
We know the most effective calcium rich foods are milk, cheese and yoghurt. But if you happen to be vegan or lactose intolerant, there are other food sources that can help you meet your calcium intake, without the need for supplements.
Okra – 82 mg in 1 cup
Tofu – 434 mg in half cupAlmonds – 75 mg in approx 28 grams
Top Comment

It”s ok when needed otherwise very bad
Ramaswami Narayan
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Figs (Anjeer) – 121 mg per half cup dried (and soaked)
Kale – 101 mg in 1 cup raw
Salmon – 232 mg in half can
Most of us believe that every health problem can be resolved with pills. It is true in case of infections and diseases. But many health problems are a result of our lifestyle, how we eat, drink and live in general. Calcium is one of them.

If you have crossed the age of 30, it is most likely that you have been told it’s time to start taking calcium supplements, and in all probability you already are popping them to avoid weak bones as you age. But it isn’t as simple as it sounds- calcium supplements may be a double-edged sword.
Daily requirement of calcium for women aged 19-50 years is 1000 mg, 51-70 years is 1200 mg and 70 plus years is 1200 mg. A healthy, varied diet is likely to provide this for most people. It is possible to increase calcium levels through diet alone.
Dr Sonali Gaur MRCOG (UK), MD, Consultant Gynaecology and obstetrics, Nanavati Super Speciality Hospital explains, “Too much calcium has risks. The general advice is that patients should not self-prescribe calcium supplements, but should aim to obtain their calcium requirement (700-1000 mg/day) from a balanced diet.” In fact, ingesting too much calcium in a misguided attempt to build skeleton and may cause kidney stones, milk-alkali syndrome, or interference with iron absorption and certain medications/ treatments.
A long-term study conducted in 2013 had linked increased high calcium intake (more than 1400 mg per day) to higher death rates. The study established that people may already be getting their required calcium dosage through diet but an added pill only increased their risk of a heart attack. The same risk was proved to be true for women who consumed less than 600 mg calcium.
Adequate calcium intake can be acquired with three portions of dairy in a day. There is no age to self-prescribe calcium supplements. Dr Satish Mutha, Orthopedic, SL Raheja Fortis Hospital, Mahim says, “Women may be given dietary calcium supplements in case of dietary insufficiency or even cases where there is an issue in adequate absorption, but it still needs to be done under medical supervision.”
Around menopause, women usually experience bone pains and fatigue, this may indicate calcium deficiency, but instead of self administering it, she should head to an expert.
Not all calcium supplements are the same. ‘One type fits all’ does not apply and that’s why medical intervention is extremely important. You may be taking less or more than actually needed by your body.
Calcium consumption
Calcium is an extremely important mineral in the body. It is needed for healthy bones and teeth. It is needed for the smooth functioning of heart, nerves, and even the blood-clotting systems. Here are some important rules:
Dr Sonali shares, “Calcium absorption is increased in an acidic environment, so tablets should be taken with meals.” Intake of beverages that contain caffeine should be avoided or limited. Caffeine can decrease calcium absorption, and possibly lead to osteoporosis. Ingestion of oxalates (as in chocolate and spinach), iron (as in liver and raisins), and phytates (found in whole grains) also impair calcium absorption, she adds.
Smoking and alcohol also increase the risk of osteoporosis. Not many know that people who smoke absorb less calcium from the stomach.
You may tolerate the calcium better if you begin with 500 mg daily for a week or so, increasing slowly until you take in the recommended amount. In addition, Vitamin D helps better absorption of calcium.
Dr Pawan Ojha, Consultant Neurologist & Stroke Specialist, Fortis Hiranandani Hospital, Vashi says, “One should not take calcium supplements regularly. You should give breaks.”
Dr Swapnil Zambre, Orthopaedic and Arthroscopy Surgeon, Fortis Hospital, Kalyan adds, “Potentially dangerous calcium supplementation is known to cause gastrointestinal side effects such as constipation and dyspepsia and also interfere with absorption of various medications such as anti-hypertensives and anti-epileptics.”
Dr Varna Venugopal Rao ( Head of Department – Obstetrics & Gynaecology at Nayati Multi Super Specialty Hospital, Mathura) warns, “If you are on regular calcium supplements, serum calcium level tests should be performed periodically to monitor your progress and to avoid hypercalcemia. Check the labels on your non–prescriptions/ herbal products e.g antacids, laxatives, vitamin because they may contain calcium, phosphates or vitamin D. Ask your doctors about safety of those products. You may end up in overdose of calcium if you add calcium supplements over and above these products.”
Also, it should be noted that calcium supplements may interfere with certain laboratory tests (including cholesterol tests), possibly causing false tests results. Make sure that laboratory personnel knows you are using the supplement before you are tested.
Calcium rich foods
We know the most effective calcium rich foods are milk, cheese and yoghurt. But if you happen to be vegan or lactose intolerant, there are other food sources that can help you meet your calcium intake, without the need for supplements.
Okra – 82 mg in 1 cup
Tofu – 434 mg in half cupAlmonds – 75 mg in approx 28 grams
Top Comment

It”s ok when needed otherwise very bad
Ramaswami Narayan
SEE ALL COMMENTSADD COMMENT
Figs (Anjeer) – 121 mg per half cup dried (and soaked)
Kale – 101 mg in 1 cup raw
Salmon – 232 mg in half can
Most of us believe that every health problem can be resolved with pills. It is true in case of infections and diseases. But many health problems are a result of our lifestyle, how we eat, drink and live in general. Calcium is one of them.