What to Look for in Calcium Supplements

Calcium is essential for many functions in the body, including:

  • regulating the heartbeat
  • conducting nerve impulses
  • stimulating hormone secretions
  • clotting of blood
  • building and maintaining healthy bones.

Calcium is a mineral found in many foods. Getting enough of this nutrient is important because the human body cannot make it. Even after you are fully grown, adequate calcium intake is important because the body loses calcium every day through the skin, nails, hair, and sweat, as well as through urine and feces. This lost calcium must be replaced daily through the diet. Otherwise, the body takes calcium out of the bones to perform other functions, which makes the bones weaker and more likely to break over time.

Experts recommend that adults get 1,000 to 1,200 mg (milligrams) of calcium each day. Although food is the best source of calcium, most Americans do not get enough of it from food sources. Calcium-fortified foods (like orange juice, bread, cereals, and many others on your grocer's shelves) and calcium supplements can fill the gap by ensuring that you meet your daily calcium requirement.

What to Look for in a Calcium Supplement

Calcium exists in nature only in combination with other substances. These substances are called compounds. Several different calcium compounds are used in supplements, including: