It is very well-established that when you take a calcium supplement, you will experience best results if you consume no more than 500 mgs at a time. It is also best to be consumed with food, since food stimulates changes that increase Calcium absorption. The most important point to remember with Calcium is that best absorption requires consumption of 500 mgs or less at one time. If you must take more, simply divide it up throughout the day. I have emphasized this for over a decade and despite government and medical recommendations stating the same, products still exist that provide more than 500 mgs of Calcium in a single dosage. It is even more shocking to me to see multivitamins that include 800 mgs or even 1,200 mgs of Calcium in a single dose – which not only insures that the Calcium won’t be well-absorbed, but that it can also interfere with the absorption of other nutrients and contribute to a high risk of stomach upset. It amazes me that companies can be so ignorant of the basic science and research on Calcium. In any event, given Calcium’s central role in reducing the risk of osteoporosis, it is critical to know that when it comes to supplementing Calcium, more is not better and in fact, too much at one time is actually much, much worse.
Please note that my Complete multivitamin for Women provides the recommended 500 mgs of Calcium and even my separate Calcium Intensive Care has for 30 years always provided 500 mgs of Calcium in each recommended dosage. Of course, if you want to consume 1,000 mgs of Calcium daily, you don’t take your Complete and your Calcium Intensive Care at the same time, since they each deliver 500 mgs of Calcium – you simply take them at separate meals. By the way, my new Calcium-Magnesium Intensive Care also now contains 500 mgs of Calcium (up from 400 mgs of Calcium) and will be available on Friday July 9th as my Today’s Special.
The Science is the sole reason why these products contain 500 mgs per recommended dosage. Unlike other manufacturers, I formulate my products based upon the research. The basic reason the science (I will attach some links below) instructs you to take less than 500 mgs at one time is taking more offers no additional benefits. If you take too much at one time, then it will not be effectively absorbed and you will be wasting your money. Even worse, you will not absorb the levels your skeleton requires and that your doctor had recommended. Also, as you go above 500 mgs of Calcium, you drastically increase the risk of stomach upset and high levels of Calcium can interfere with the absorption of other essential nutrients. In short, take 500 mgs or less of Calcium at one time. If you need more, divide it with meals throughout the day.
I can go on at length discussing the various Calcium forms and their solubility, but my focus here is even more simple and more important. Regardless of the form of Calcium you use, do not consume more than 500 mgs at a time. If you need to take 1,500 mgs, then divide it to be consumed with three meals throughout the day. No more than 500 mgs at one time and always with a meal. I have also found it to be simple common sense to deliver Calcium using the enhanced solubility of an ultra-fine powder in a capsule rather than as a large, difficult to swallow and difficult to dissolve tablet. The capsule and powder create a more soluble, mild, gentle formula. I have found that if you want to increase the likelihood of stomach upset, then put your Calcium in a big tablet.
Lastly, and without getting too deeply into the discussion of Calcium forms, experience has shown me that there is one form of Calcium I would avoid, since it is extremely insoluble and also increases the risk of stomach upset. That form is Dicalcium Phosphate and sadly, it’s not just a cheap form of calcium but it is also commonly used to make tablets. In short, it is my least favorite Calcium source. As far as Calcium Carbonate, it is affordable, effective and an excellent form of Calcium, but you don’t want to take too much of it at one time. Calcium Carbonate gives the greatest yield of all the Calcium sources in terms of elemental Calcium content, but because it can suppress its own absorption, it underscores the importance of Calcium’s “Magic Number” of 500 mgs. Of course, forms such as Calcium Malate, Calcium Citrate, etc are also excellent and extremely soluble forms of Calcium. As mentioned above, I have found that with any form of Calcium, it is best to consume it as a powder in a capsule rather than a tablet to enhance its solubility.
Best of Health.
The following technical references underscores the scientific validity and exceptional importance of limiting any single serving of Calcium to no more than 500 mg.
Nutrition in Clinical Practice
“The maximum dose of elemental calcium that should be taken at a time is 500 mg.”
Journal of Bone and Mineral Research
“Results indicate that 0.5 g of calcium is the optimum dose….”
American Journal of Clinical Nutrition
“If an adequate calcium intake is not possible in the diet, a calcium supplement may be required and should optimally be taken in doses ~500 mg at a time to maximize absorption, because absorption decreases with greater calcium loads.”
“You can take calcium supplements at any time of day. However, it’s important to note that calcium is absorbed most efficiently when it’s taken in amounts of 500 milligrams (mg) or less. If you take 1,000 mg of calcium a day, split it into two or more doses over the course of the day.”
National Institutes of Health
“The percentage of calcium absorbed depends on the total amount of elemental calcium consumed at one time; as the amount increases, the percentage absorption decreases. Absorption is highest in doses ≤500 mg. So, for example, one who takes 1,000 mg/day of calcium from supplements might split the dose and take 500 mg at two separate times during the day.”