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One Major Side Effect of Taking Calcium Supplements, Says Science

Do you even need it?
MEDICALLY REVIEWED Clipboard BY Sydney Greene, MS, RD

Some people may benefit from taking a calcium supplement daily more so than others, however, some experts argue they're not even worth it—especially since research indicates that ingesting calcium at that level may increase your risk of developing heart complications. Still, it's evident that Americans often don't get enough calcium through diet alone.

According to the current USDA Dietary Guidelines, calcium is one of the four dietary components that are of public health concern for the general U.S. population. As is the case with potassium, dietary fiber, and vitamin D, calcium is a nutrient that's often under-consumed, which can increase a person's risk of several associated health issues, namely osteoporosis. In fact, nearly 30% of men and 60% of women above the age of 19 don't consume enough calcium on a regular basis. 

RELATED: The #1 Best Food to Eat for Calcium, Says Science

It's especially important for adults between the ages of 19 and 30 to consume adequate levels of calcium through diet, as bone mass is still actively accruing during this time of life. It's also imperative for post-menopausal women to meet the recommended intake of calcium each day to help prevent bone loss. When a woman enters menopause, her estrogen levels drop, which can cause her bone mineral density to decline.

calcium rich foods

For reference, a woman between the age of 19 and 50 requires about 1,000 milligrams of calcium daily, whereas one who's 51 and older needs closer to 1,200 milligrams per day. For a man, it's recommended that those 19 and above consume about 1,000 milligrams of the mineral each day. However, a supplement may not be the best solution. Some experts argue that the body may not absorb calcium from a pill as effectively as when it's consumed from foods that are rich in calcium.

Another concern? Ingesting too much calcium via a supplement may also put you at risk of major heart issues. In an article from Johns Hopkins Medicine, Erin Michos, MD, MHS, associate director of preventive cardiology for the Ciccarone Center for the Prevention of Heart Disease at the university said she was concerned that calcium supplements could contribute to heart attacks and heart disease. She explained that the body can't process more than 500 milligrams of calcium at a time, meaning any excess amount of the mineral could deposit in the artery walls, or even trigger a blood clot.

Depending on the dosage, calcium supplements can contain anywhere from 400-1,000 milligrams of the mineral. Antacids like Tums and Rolaids can also hike up your calcium intake, as each pill or chew provides 200-300 milligrams of calcium. Aside from experiencing potential heart problems, other issues related to excess calcium consumption include constipation, kidney stones, and even cognitive problems, per the Cleveland Clinic.

Bottom line, if you're going to take calcium supplements, make sure you don't exceed 500 milligrams per dose. However, sourcing calcium through food choices should be the top priority!

For more, don't miss One Major Effect Vitamin K Has on Your Heart, Says New Study!

Cheyenne Buckingham
Cheyenne Buckingham is the news editor of Read more about Cheyenne