The EclecticPhysician

The Eclectic Physician
Vitamin and Mineral Information



The information on this page compiled by
Beth Burch N.D.
(click on the keywords)


Calcium is the most abundant mineral in the body, with 99% of the body’s calcium found in bones and teeth. In addition to formation of strong bones and teeth, calcium is an important component of many enzymes important in blood clotting, muscle contraction, regulation of the heartbeat and transmission of nerve impulses. Calcium works with many other nutrients including vitamins D and K, magnesium and phosphorus. Deficiency of calcium, like vitamin D deficiency results in rickets in children and osteomalacia in adults- conditions in which calcium is depleted from the bones resulting in weakness and deformity. Deficiency of calcium probably also contributes to osteoporosis. Many people get much less than the RDA of calcium from their diet. Because calcium is so important in many enzymes, the body maintains blood calcium levels within a very narrow range. However, a number of conditions including low parathyroid hormone, vitamin D deficiency, kidney disease, magnesium deficiency, protein deficiency a nd increased calcium requirement can cause low blood calcium. Low blood calcium causes tetany (muscle spasm). Elevated blood calcium can occur with high parathyroid hormone, hyper- or hypothyroid conditions, bone metastasis, vitamin D toxicity, excess intake or absorption of calcium, Addison’s disease and with thiazide diuretics. High blood calcium may be asymptomatic or can cause constipation, nausea and vomiting, increased urination, thirst, muscle weakness, kidney failure, irritability, confusion, psychosis and coma. Both low and high blood calcium require medical treatment.

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  • Refined calcium carbonate- inorganic, poorly absorbed, decreases stomach acid
  • Calcium citrate, lactate, aspartate, malate- organic, well absorbed
  • Oyster shell, dolomite, bone meal, unrefined calcium carbonate- many products have high lead levels

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Food Sources

  • Kelp, cheese, canned salmon and sardines, kale, almonds, nuts, tofu, seeds, milk and broccoli are all good sources of calcium.

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  • Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA)
  • Infants- 400-600 mg
  • Children (ages 1-10)- 800 mg
  • Adults- 800-1200 mg
  • Pregnancy- 1200 mg
  • Lactation- 1200 mg

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Optimal Supplementation

  • 1200-1500 mg daily including dietary calcium

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Treatment of Health Conditions

  • 1500 mg daily

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Conditions used for

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Side effects

  • Doses above 2000 mg daily may increase the risk of kidney stones and soft tissue calcifications

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  • Sarcoidosis, hyperparathyroidism, chronic kidney disease, kidney stones, large doses of vitamin D, tuberculosis, dialysis patients, ventricular fibrillation, hypercalcemia, hypophosphatemia, severe heart disease, digitalis treatment and respiratory failure

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Interactions with other nutrients

  • Vitamins D and C increase absorption of calcium
  • Calcium works with magnesium, vitamin K and vitamin D
  • High doses of magnesium or zinc decrease calcium absorption
  • High fiber intake decreases absorption of calcium
  • High intake of phosphorus, protein, sodium or sugar increase excretion of calcium

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Interactions with medications and herbs

  • Aluminum containing antacids, caffeine and alcohol increase excretion of calcium
  • Calcium increases digitalis toxicity
  • Calcium decreases the effectiveness of calcium channel blockers, tetracyclines, quinolones, atenolol and iron salts

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1. Bryant RJ et al, The new dietary reference intakes for calcium: implications for osteoporosis, J Am Coll Nutr 1999;18(5 Suppl):406S-412S
2. Whiting SJ et al, Calcium supplementation, J Am Acad Nurse Pract 1997;9(4):187-92
3. Kawano Y et al, Calcium supplementation in patients with essential hypertension: assessment by office, home and ambulatory blood pressure, J Hypertens 1998;16(11):1693-9
4. Bendich A et al, Supplemental calcium for the prevention of hip fracture: potential health-economic benefits, Clin Ther 1999;21(6):1058-72
5. Reid IR et al, The roles of calcium and vitamin D in the prevention of osteoporosis, Endocrinol Metab Clin North Am 1998;27(2):389-98
6. Riggs BL et al, Long-term effects of calcium supplementation on serum parathyroid hormone level, bone turnover, and bone loss in elderly women, J Bone Miner Res 1998;13(2):168-74
7. Cumming RG et al, Calcium for prevention of osteoporotic fractures in postmenopausal women, J Bone Miner Res 1997;12(9):1321-9
8. Devine A et al, A 4-year follow-up study of the effects of calcium supplementation on bone density in elderly postmenopausal women, Osteoporos Int 1997;7(1):23-8
9. Thys-Jacob S, Alleviation of migraines with therapeutic vitamin D and calcium, Headache 1994;34:590-92
10. Penland JG et al, Dietary calcium and manganese effects on menstrual cycle symptoms, Am J Obstet Gynecol 1993;168:1417-23
11. Thys-Jacob S et al, Calcium supplementation in pre-menstrual syndrome, J Gen Intern Med 1989;4:183-89

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* The information presented in this web site is intended to inform and educate. It is not intended replace a qualified medical practitioner to diagnose or treat medical conditions.

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