Calcium & Vitamin D
Calcium is a mineral. It is important for healthy bones. Vitamin D is important because it helps the body absorb and use calcium.
Taking Calcium & Vitamin D
Calcium supplements are taken with each meal (2-3 times per day). Vitamin D is taken only once a day.
Your doctor will advise you on how much calcium and vitamin D to take.
The list below is a general guide to help determine the right dose of calcium:
- Age 4-8: 400 mg twice per day (800 mg)
- Age 9-50: 500 mg twice per day (1000 mg)
- Age >50: 400 mg three times per day (1200 mg)
The amount of vitamin D a patient needs depends on their age. The list below is a general guide to help determine the right dose of vitamin D:
- Age 19-50: 400 - 1,000 IU per day
- Age >50: 800 - 2,000 IU per day
Natural Sources of Calcium
Calcium is available in dairy products. As a general rule a glass of milk (1 cup), a small container of yogurt, or a piece of cheese the size of a thumb will provide about 300 mg of calcium.
Natural Sources of Vitamin D
The most natural way to get vitamin D is by exposure to sunlight. Vitamin D is made in the skin when it is exposed to the sun. Milk is also often fortified with vitamin D.
Important Tests and Risks
Patients who have osteoporosis or other conditions where bone density is a concern should ask their doctor about Bone Mineral Density (BMD) testing.
The body uses calcium to build healthy bones and teeth, and to keep them strong as it ages.
Calcium is also involved in a number of other important body functions including the nervous system, blood clotting, muscle contraction, and regulating heart rhythms.
Vitamin D is made by a natural chemical reaction in the skin when it is exposed to sunlight. Your body needs vitamin D to absorb and use the calcium that it takes in from food and supplements.
Calcium can cause bloating and constipation as the body adjusts to the effects of a new calcium supplement.
Vitamin D is virtually free of side effects when it is taken properly. However too much vitamin D can cause high calcium levels. High calcium levels can cause increased thirst & urination, nausea, vomiting, and constipation.
Patients should take the amount of calcium and vitamin D recommended by their doctor to minimize side effects.
Patients who should NOT be taking Calcium or Vitamin D include:
- Patients experiencing high calcium levels
Symptoms of too much calcium include: increased thirst & urination, nausea, vomiting, and constipation.
People should call a doctor if they are taking calcium and/or vitamin D and are experiencing these symptoms.
Watch Dr. Andy Thompson, a Canadian rheumatologist, introduce Calcium & Vitamin D in a short video: