Ask the Nurse

I wonder if I can have too much calcium in my diet? I eat a lot of non-fat Greek yogurt, low-fat cheese and drink at least two glasses of non-fat milk daily. I take a Nature Made 600 mg calcium supplement (60 percent DV) and a Nature Made Multi for Her + 50 (I’m 70), which has 30 percent DV. I also take 1000 IU of D3 and take a D3 supplement of 1000 IU.

You can actually take too much calcium. We now recommend that you try and get all of your calcium through your diet and if that is not possible, then we recommend you take a supplement. There are calcium calculators online to evaluate the amount of calcium that you are consuming.

Adequate calcium intake is important to prevent osteoporosis (weakening of the bones). Fractures/broken bones involving the spine, hip and forearm are common complications of osteoporosis, which affect a large percent of the female population and usually does not cause any symptoms until the disease is quite advanced. It is recommended you increase your calcium intake to a total of 1,200 - 1,500 mg of elemental calcium per day (divided doses because the gut can only absorb 500mg at a time) with 2,000 IU of vitamin D daily.

One cup of milk or yogurt each provides 300 mg of calcium. One and a half ounces of cheese also has 300 mg of calcium. Cheese however, is also high in fat, and if you have a history of high cholesterol, then cheese should be avoided. If you are not able to reach the above goals of calcium intake from dietary intake alone, you should begin taking a calcium supplement. Calcium supplements are available over the counter. The product you choose should also contain vitamin D, which helps in the absorption of the calcium. (Calcium citrate is commonly recommended as it is well absorbed with or without food, it does not increase calcium oxalate kidney stones, and the citrate in the urine tends to make the urine less irritating for the vulva.) Calcium may be a mood stabilizer in women with PMS and may help lower blood pressure.

Excessive doses of calcium and calcium containing antacids are to be avoided. Check the National Osteoporosis website for tips on bone health and read ’Strong Women, Strong Bones’.

August 22, 2012 at 4:09pm