Lack of calcium can cause osteoporosis, but taking extra calcium does not cure it. The recommended daily allowance of calcium for non-menstruating women is the amount you get in six cups of milk. Everyone else needs the amount found in four cups.

A glass of milk contains the same amount of calcium as a cup of yogurt, an ounce of hard cheese, a cup and a half of cottage cheese, four ounces of fish, or a 600 mg calcium carbonate pill. Beans, leafy green vegetables, fruits and whole grains also contain significant amounts of calcium. If you are a vegetarian, you may want to do a more careful calculation of your daily calcium intake from one of the many available nutritional content lists.

If you're not confident that you are getting enough calcium in your diet, you can use fortified foods such as calcium-added orange juice, soy milk or breakfast cereals, or you can take generic calcium carbonate pills. Don't waste your money on expensive chelated calcium pills, "coral calcium" or supplements that combine magnesium with calcium. Magnesium is not necessary for calcium absorption. Expensive "coral calcium" supplements are nothing but ordinary limestone which offers no advantage over generic calcium carbonate. Ordinary antacids such as Tums are a good source of calcium carbonate.

Since calcium uses up vitamin D, all people who take calcium supplements or antacids should also take vitamin D supplements or other sources of vitamin D.

Checked 9/3/06

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