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J Am Acad Nurse Pract. 1997 Apr;9(4):187-92.

Calcium supplementation.

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  • 1University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Canada.


Calcium is necessary for the prevention and treatment of diseases such as osteoporosis, hypertension, and, possibly, colon cancer. Supplementation is useful when dietary calcium intake is low, as is the current situation in North America. There are many factors to consider before recommending any one form of supplement. A consideration for calcium carbonate tablets is whether the tablet disintegrates and whether or not a lack of food or acid in the stomach will hinder utilization. Other forms of calcium, particularly the chelated calcium salts, are better absorbed in fasting achlorhydric subjects but have less calcium per gram of supplement. Interaction of calcium with other mineral nutrients and the presence of contaminating metals has focused attention on safety. Based on present evidence, chelated calcium and refined calcium carbonate tablets (including those labeled as antacids) may be safely and effectively ingested by most people at doses generally recommended for treatment or prevention of osteoporosis. One should not exceed 2,000 mg of calcium, except at the advice of their health care provider, as inadvertent mineral deficiencies may arise. Persons at risk for developing milk-alkali syndrome, such as thiazide users and persons with renal failure, should be identified and monitored for alkalosis and hypercalcemia when using calcium supplements.

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