Take Pause: Calcium Supplements, Good or Bad?

Take Pause HeaderCalcium Supplements, Good or Bad?

If you are confused about what the truth is about calcium, you are not alone.  There have been conflicting statements reported in the media that have suggested that calcium might not be beneficial and may even be harmful.  These reports are based on a few recently published studies.  However, there is a large amount of scientific evidence that supports the current recommendations for calcium intake for healthy bones.

Calcium and Vitamin D are Essential for Bone Health

Bone is composed of collagen that is strengthened by the presence of calcium. Ninety-nine percent of the calcium in our bodies is deposited in our bones and teeth. Calcium is also necessary for muscle contraction, normal functioning of nerves and heart and thousands of biochemical reactions. Each day, we lose calcium through our skin, nails, hair, sweat, urine and feces. Unless we can replace this calcium through dietary supplementation, the body will begin to leach calcium from bone, resulting in a loss of bone structure and strength.

It is important to ingest an adequate amount of calcium in our diet to meet these many needs and to prevent the body from “stealing” calcium from bone.

Guidelines for Calcium:

  1. Recommended dietary calcium should be obtained from food sources: Milk, soymilk, almond milk, yogurt, cheese, dark green leafy vegetables
  1. Take a calcium supplement if you do not get the recommended amount in your diet.
leafy greens provide calcium

Dark green leafy vegetables are a good source of dietary calcium.

How much calcium do you need?

  • Women 50 and younger need 1000 mg per day
  • Women 51 and older need 1,200 mg per day
  • Men age 70 and younger need 1000 mg per day
  • Men age 71 and older need 1,200 mg per day

What about Vitamin D?

Vitamin D is essential for absorption of ingested calcium from the intestine, it is also important to maintain adequate amounts of this important vitamin. If you don’t get enough vitamin D, you may lose bone, have lower bone density, and you’re more likely to break bones as you age.

How much Vitamin D do you need?       

Women and Men

  • Under age 50 400-800 international units (IU) daily*
  • Age 50 and older 800- 1000 IU daily*

* Some people need more vitamin D. According to the Institute of Medicine (IOM), the safe upper limit of vitamin D is 4,000 IU per day for most adults.





  1. I am a 80 year old woman and tottaly confused as what intake of vitamins
    I should be taking if any.
    I have been told by many sciencetist that vitamins are a waist of money.
    However I have been taking vitamin c, b12, calcium and fish oil plus a
    Multiple vitamin for older people. I have Rhuemotoid Arthritis, so this is the main reason for extra vitamins. I have to take Prednisone and Methotrexate,
    Please advise me in your opinion if I need to be taking this many vitamins.
    I drink lots of Almond milk and have servings of cheese.

    Please let me know your opinion.