If we lived in a perfect world, we would have got all the calcium we required from the food we ate, but we live in an imperfect world. Researchers suggest that more than a third of us are not getting enough of the mineral that is essential for building and maintaining strong bones. Minerals help muscles work and nerves carry messages between the brain and other parts of the body, too. 

How Much Calcium Should You Take?

The intake of calcium depends on how much you are already consuming in your diet. Adults require 1,000 milligrams (from all sources) every day, and that amount keeps increasing with the age. Women over 50 and men over 70 need 1,200 milligrams of calcium intake per day. If you think you need a supplement to boost your number, then you should consult your doctor. It is difficult for your body to process more calcium at one time. Therefore, you may want to take a smaller amount at each meal throughout the day to add up to your total. Your body gets rid of extra calcium through your kidneys, and it goes into your urine, raising the risk of kidney stones for some people. High levels of the mineral in your blood can lead to kidney problems, as well as hardened blood vessels and tissue. 

Some studies also link high calcium intake, particularly from supplements, with a greater risk of heart disease, though the results aren't settled. Calcium Carbonate or Calcium Citrate?

Calcium carbonate is the more common of the two main types of calcium supplements. You should also eat something when you take it to help your body use it best. It doesn't matter if you take calcium citrate with or without food. A supplement may have more calcium carbonate as an ingredient than one with calcium citrate, but they could be equally effective. When you compare products, check the labels to find out how much actual calcium you'll be getting in a dose. 

Side Effects and Interactions

Gas, bloating, and constipation are more common with calcium carbonate. That's another reason to divide your dose up into servings and to take them with food. Drinking more fluids may help you avoid these symptoms, too. If one is trying a new calcium supplement, one should start with a small dose, like 200-300 milligrams daily for a week, and build up gradually.