For some people, it can be a challenge to get enough calcium from diet alone, especially if they do not eat dairy. Keep a quick calcium diary for 5 days, and then decide if you need to add a supplement. Women ages 25 to 50 years need 1,000 mg of calcium a day. If you are a woman over 50 and not taking estrogen, you’ll need to bump your calcium up to 1,000-1,200 mg a day. Men 25 to 70 years need 1,000 mg a day and 1,000-1,200 mg a day if they are over age 70.
To get the greatest possible benefit from the calcium you take, you’ll want to follow a few simple rules.
- Take your calcium supplements with meals, rather than alone. The calcium needs the acid from stomach juices to break it down. Avoid taking calcium supplements with very high fiber meals. Fiber can bind with calcium, reducing the amount available to your body.
- Don’t take more than 500 to 600 mg at a time – your body is not able to absorb much more and it will be excreted in the urine.
- If you’re taking an iron supplement, don’t take it at the same time you take your calcium supplement. Each can interfere with the other’s absorption.