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What is it? Overview Usage Side Effects and Warnings

What is Calcium?

Calcium is the most abundant mineral in the body, making up nearly 2% of total body weight. More than 99% of the calcium in your body is found in your bones, but the other 1% is perhaps just as important for good health. Many enzymes depend on calcium in order to work properly, as do your nerves, heart, and blood-clotting mechanisms.

To build bone, you need to have enough calcium in your diet. But in spite of calcium-fortified orange juice and the best efforts of the dairy industry, most Americans are calcium deficient. 1 Calcium supplements are a simple way to make sure you're getting enough of this important mineral.

One of the most important uses of calcium is to help prevent and treat osteoporosis, the progressive loss of bone mass to which menopausal women are especially...

According to most, though not all studies, use of calcium (especially in the form of calcium citrate) combined with vitamin D may modestly slow the bone loss that leads to osteoporosis . 2 A rather surprising potential use of calcium came to light when a large, well-designed study found that calcium is an effective treatment for premenstrual syndrome (PMS). 3 Calcium supplementation reduced all major symptoms, including headache, food cravings, moodiness, and fluid retention. It is at least remotely possible that there may be a connection between these two uses of calcium: weak evidence hints that PMS might be an early sign of future osteoporosis. 4 One small but carefully conducted study suggests that getting enough calcium may help control symptoms of menstrual pain...

Safety Issues

In general, it's safe to take up to 2,500 mg of calcium daily, although this is more than you need. 5 Greatly excessive intake of calcium can cause numerous side effects, including dangerous or painful deposits of calcium within the body.

Note:If you have cancer, hyperparathyroidism, or sarcoidosis, you should take calcium only under a physician's supervision.

Some evidence hints that use of calcium supplements might slightly increase kidney stone risk. 6 However, increased intake of calcium from fooddoes not seem to have this effect and could even help prevent stones. 7 One study found that if calcium supplements are taken with food, there is no increased risk. 8 Calcium citrate supplements may be particularly safe regarding kidney...