Osteoporosis Prevention & Treatment (cont.)
MedicineNet: How much calcium intake is necessary to prevent and treat osteoporosis?
Dr. Truong: The levels of calcium intake recommended by The National Institutes of Health Consensus Conference on Osteoporosis are:
These recommended levels of calcium intake are meant for all people, not just for those with established osteoporosis. Unfortunately, I am afraid that Americans overall are not taking in enough calcium. Surveys have shown that the average woman in the United States receives less than 500 milligrams of calcium per day in her diet.
MedicineNet: How can a woman tell whether she/he
has enough calcium in the diet? How do you decide who needs
If your calcium intake does not meet the recommended calcium requirements, you can make up the difference either by consuming more dairy products and other calcium rich foods, or by taking calcium supplements. Doctors usually recommend calcium supplements rather than increasing consumption of dairy products. Calcium supplements are easy to use, and calcium from supplements is usually absorbed as well as calcium from milk. Calcium supplements have no calories!
MedicineNet: What calcium supplements do you recommend? How much should one take? What is the best way to take calcium supplements?
Dr. Truong: The most practical and inexpensive form of calcium supplement is calcium carbonate (such as Os-Cal or TUMS) taken with meals. Calcium carbonate is most reliably absorbed if taken with meals.
Daily calcium requirement refers to the amount of elemental calcium consumed. Different calcium salts in calcium supplements contain different amounts of elemental calcium (the actual amount of calcium in the supplement). For example, Os-Cal and Tums are calcium carbonate salts. Each 1250 mg of calcium carbonate salt tablet (such as Os-Cal 500 mg or Tums 500 mg extra strength) contains 500 mg of elemental calcium. A person who needs 1000 mg/day of calcium supplement can take one tablet of Tums 500 mg extra strength (containing 500 mg of elemental calcium) twice daily with meals.