Coral Calcium Side Effects

With the national call to increase calcium intake, many people are finding they can’t get enough through their diet and are turning to supplements. Given that the greatest benefit comes from regular daily usage, people have questioned what the potential side effects or adverse experiences might be when taking calcium supplements?

Calcium supplements have a long track record of safety, are well tolerated, and the occurrence of significant negative effects is highly unusual.  Calcium supplements have been used extensively in clinical studies for the treatment and prevention of osteoporosis.  A National Institutes of Health trial on Calcium for the Prevention of Preeclampsia examined the effects of 2,000 mg of calcium supplementation daily in 2,295 pregnant women.  The reported incidence of side effects in these trials was minimal.  At daily supplementation levels from 1,000 to 2,000 mg, no trial participant had to stop taking calcium due to side effects.

The most recent Institute of Medicine report on dietary nutritional requirements sets a "Tolerable Upper Intake Level" for calcium at 2,500 mg per day which is an amount unlikely to pose risks of adverse effects in most healthy individuals.  Bloating, gas and constipation are rare and temporary.  Some individuals who experience bloating or constipation do so at the beginning of calcium supplementation.  In most cases bloating and constipation are temporary, as the body adjusts to the effects of the daily calcium supplement.  A common recommendation for those who experience these initial gastrointestinal symptoms is to begin with a small dose of calcium and then build to the daily recommend intake.  Taking calcium supplements in divided doses throughout the day, for instance at mealtimes, improves absorption and tends to limit any gastrointestinal discomfort.  Consuming plenty of water also reduces constipation and provides additional health benefits as well.

Generally speaking calcium supplements are well tolerated.  The 1994 National Institutes of Health Consensus Development Conference on Optimal Calcium Intake reviewed the published literature on dietary and supplementary calcium. The final report noted that side effects have been reported at high doses of calcium, but that an increase in calcium consumption for most people, up to levels of 2,000 mg per day, should be safe. They concluded that calcium supplementation was desirable for people unable to increase their daily intake to recommended levels through diet alone.

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