Women’s Doc: How many calcium supplements should I be taking?

I’m 60 years old and want to know how many calcium tablets I need to take. I walk every day and I’m trying to do what I can to keep my bones healthy. Thank you for answering my question.

Getting plenty of calcium is very important when it comes to keeping our bones healthy. Dairy products are a rich source of calcium and today many foods are fortified with calcium — everything from orange juice to muffins. If your diet is lacking, there are a number of calcium supplements to choose from.

Most supplements contain calcium carbonate, calcium citrate or calcium phosphate. The calcium content is easy to spot, but you have to read the labels carefully to find out how much elemental calcium you’re getting. Products vary, and it’s the elemental calcium that matters to our bones.

Calcium’s Place In Healthy Weight Loss 300x300 Womens Doc: How many calcium supplements should I be taking?

Women's Doc: How many calcium supplements should I be taking?

It’s easy to think you’re getting enough calcium when you might not be. For example the chewable supplement Tums contains 500 mg of calcium carbonate, but only 200 mg of elemental calcium. Tums E-X has 750 mg of calcium carbonate in each tablet which provides 300mg of elemental calcium. Os-Cal 500 has 1,250 mg of calcium carbonate, providing 500mg of elemental calcium.

How much calcium we need depends on our risk factors. Women 25 to 50 generally need 1,000 mg of elemental calcium daily. For women between 50 and 65 the recommendations are based on whether or not hormone supplements are used — those on estrogen need 1,000 mg a day, but 1,500 mg is best if no estrogen is taken. And after age 65, all women should take 1,500 mg of elemental calcium, whether on not they’re taking estrogen.

So check the label carefully to see how much elemental calcium is in each tablet. Then you’ll be able to figure out how many tablets you need to take each day.

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