Calcium supplements are taken by a large amount of the UK population. In the grand scheme of things they are safe, and while side effects can happen, they are often reduced or stopped by changing brands, changing diets or lowering the dosage.
However, we will note some of the side effects of calcium supplements in this blog post.
One of the most common side effects is belching, or excessive gas. While this can be harmless, it is also irritating, particularly socially. If you are experiencing this with your calcium supplements, try changing brands or lowering the dosage for a while, before working your way back up.
Too high a dose of calcium is deemed as unsafe, and the upper intake level (the point whereby the supplement poses a danger) is as follows:
Age 0-6 months, 1000 mg;
6-12 months, 1500 mg;
1-8 years, 2500 mg;
9-18 years, 3000 mg;
19-50 years, 2500 mg;
51+ years, 2000 mg
Higher doses increase the chance of having serious side effects. Some recent research also suggests that doses over the recommended daily requirement of 1000-1300 mg daily for most adults might increase the chance of heart attack. However, there have been more recent studies that have debunked this fear.
For breastfeeding or pregnant women – calcium is deemed safe when taken at the recommended dosage. However, this is in tablet form. There is not enough information available on the safety of using calcium intravenously (by IV) during pregnancy and breastfeeding.
Taken on an empty stomach – those people who suffer from low acid levels – achlorhydria – may find it difficult to digest a normal calcium carbonate supplement. That is why it is recommended you take the pill with some food. Or use calcium citrate which can be taken on an empty stomach.
People with abnormally high or low levels of phosphate in their blood — Calcium and phosphate have to be in balance in the body. Taking too much calcium can throw this balance off and cause harm. Don’t take extra calcium without your health provider’s supervision.
Under-active thyroid (hypothyroidism): Calcium can interfere with thyroid hormone replacement treatment. Take calcium and thyroid medications at least 4 hours apart.
Too much calcium in the blood (as in parathyroid gland disorders and sarcoidosis): Calcium should be avoided if you have one of these conditions.
Poor kidney function: Calcium supplementation can increase the risk of having too much calcium in the blood in people with poor kidney function.