Are You Taking the Same Dose of Calcium Supplements Every Day?

Do you eat the same thing every day? Although what you eat for breakfast may be pretty routine, your other meals throughout the day are probably not. Are you a creature of habit when it comes to taking your calcium supplements?

Food First

Remember calcium supplements are just that – supplements to your diet. Count your food first for calcium content in order to figure out how much calcium supplements you will need to take to reach your recommended daily amount.

Most dairy products are rich in calcium. However, many other foods contain calcium and every little bit adds up. For example, earlier this month I gave a talk for a ladies spring luncheon and to go along with the talk a bone healthy lunch was served. My estimate of calcium content for the one meal was 480 mg. The kale salad was the richest source of calcium but other foods like broccoli, peas, almonds, and oranges contributed to the total.

Calculate Your Daily Calcium Supplement Amount

So instead of automatically taking the same amount of calcium supplement every day, look first at how much you are getting in your diet and other supplements you maybe taking. Starting with your recommended daily amount of calcium, subtract how much calcium you are getting beginning with any other supplements and then the foods in your diet.

Is Calcium In Any Other Supplements?

Look closely at the nutrition facts. You might need to take out a magnifying glass for some of those labels listing the contents in very small font!

Most multivitamin contain calcium. However, even the same brand might contain different amounts. For example, a popular multivitamin, Centrum, contains anywhere from 2o0 mg of calcium to 500 mg of calcium depending on the specific product. Centrum Adults contains 200 mg of calcium, Centrum Silver Adults 50+ contains 220 mg of calcium while Centrum Silver for Women contains 500 mg and Centrum Silver for Men 250 mg.

How Much Calcium Is In Your Daily Diet?

To learn the amount of calcium in the foods that you are eating, there are different tools available for you to use. Online the website I use all the time is SuperTracker. This is a USDA-sponsored site. What I like about it is not only can you find individual foods, but you can also put in your entire recipe and get the nutrition breakdown. Give it a try, it’s free and the most reliable source for nutrition information.

You can find other websites that have apps as well to look up or find nutrition information on what you were eating. For example, CRON-O-Meter is a free web-based application for tracking your nutrition that has an app available for $2.99. I found some apps gave general information about calories and a breakdown for fat, carbohydrates, and protein but not the individual nutrients. If there is an app you have found useful, please post it on Facebook.

Do You Need To Take A Daily Calcium Supplement?

Okay, it may take some time to get up to speed on how much calcium is in your foods but it will be worth the time to see if you need to take calcium supplements and if so, what amount you should take. Also once you learn the calcium content of the typical foods you eat, you may find by doing a menu makeover and including those foods your daily diet, you may not need any calcium supplements.

The bottom line is you need to be dynamic in how much calcium supplement you take. Just don’t automatically take 1000 mg or 1200 mg each day. Yes, that might be recommended daily amount, but it is unlikely that you need to take that entire amount in supplements. The typical American diet has about 400 mg of calcium on average. So that means only 600 to 800 more milligrams of calcium may be necessary. Take a look at your other supplements and diet to see what you need each day so you don’t overdo it by taking more calcium supplements then you need.

Diane L. Schneider, MD, MSc
Author, The Complete Book of Bone Health
Medical Editor,