Dr. W. Steven Pray from Southwestern Oklahoma State University in Weatherford has published a good review of calcium supplements for osteoporosis.

From that article, here are recommendations to ensure you’ll get all the calcium you bargained for.

How much calcium is in that tablet?

  • Calcium carbonate is the most common form of the element in commercially available supplements.
    • Examples include Caltrate, OsCal, Tums, Viacti.
    • Calcium carbonate contains 40% elemental calcium (the actual amount of calcium in the supplement).
    • Each 1,250 mg of calcium carbonate salt contains 500 mg of elemental calcium
  • An alternative is calcium citrate.
    • Citracal, which is 21% calcium.

Coral calcium

  • It’s promoted with “outlandish claims” for treatment and prevention of cancer, lupus, multiple sclerosis, and heart disease, on the basis of a purported increased bioavailability.
  • In 2003, the FDA and Federal Trade Commission (FTC) charged marketers of Coral Calcium Supreme and others with making false and unsubstantiated claims.
  • But the misinformation still abounds.
  • The assertion that “cancer is caused by a lack of free oxygen in the body, a ‘fact’ unknown to the real medical profession” is false.

Vitamin D

  • Essential for absorbing calcium from the gastrointestinal tract and ensuring bone health.
  • Most calcium supplements also include vitamin D.
  • Be careful not to take too much vitamin D.

The bottom line?
The review includes a table with the recommended calcium intake for everyone from infants to seniors, including pregnancy.

9/24/08 18:08 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at www.Vicus.com, a complementary and alternative medicine website.