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You are here : 3-RX.com > Drugs & Medications > Detailed Drug Information (USP DI) > Calcium Supplements

Calcium Supplements (Systemic)

Description and Brand Names | Before Using | Proper Use | Precautions | Side Effects | Additional Information

  • Antacid - Calcium Carbonate
  • Antihyperkalemic - Calcium Chloride; Calcium Gluconate Injection
  • Antihypermagnesemic - Calcium Chloride; Calcium Gluceptate; Calcium Gluconate Injection
  • Antihyperphosphatemic - Calcium Carbonate; Calcium Citrate
  • Antihypocalcemic - Calcium Acetate; Calcium Carbonate; Calcium Chloride; Calcium Citrate; Calcium Glubionate; Calcium Gluceptate; Calcium Gluconate; Calcium Glycerophosphate and Calcium Lactate; Calcium Lactate; Calcium Lactate-Gluconate and Calcium Carbonate; Calcium Phosphate, Dibasic; Calcium Phosphate, Tribasic
  • Cardiotonic - Calcium Chloride; Calcium Gluconate Injection
  • Electrolyte replenisher - Calcium Acetate; Calcium Chloride; Calcium Gluceptate; Calcium Gluconate Injection
  • Nutritional supplement, mineral - Calcium Carbonate; Calcium Citrate; Calcium Glubionate, Oral; Calcium Gluceptate and Calcium Gluconate; Calcium Gluconate, Oral; Calcium Lactate; Calcium Lactate-Gluconate and Calcium Carbonate; Calcium Phosphate, Dibasic; Calcium Phosphate, Tribasic

Calcium supplements are taken by individuals who are unable to get enough calcium in their regular diet or who have a need for more calcium. They are used to prevent or treat several conditions that may cause hypocalcemia (not enough calcium in the blood). The body needs calcium to make strong bones. Calcium is also needed for the heart, muscles, and nervous system to work properly.

The bones serve as a storage site for the body's calcium. They are continuously giving up calcium to the bloodstream and then replacing it as the body's need for calcium changes from day to day. When there is not enough calcium in the blood to be used by the heart and other organs, your body will take the needed calcium from the bones. When you eat foods rich in calcium, the calcium will be restored to the bones and the balance between your blood and bones will be maintained.

Pregnant women, nursing mothers, children, and adolescents may need more calcium than they normally get from eating calcium-rich foods. Adult women may take calcium supplements to help prevent a bone disease called osteoporosis. Osteoporosis, which causes thin, porous, easily broken bones, may occur in women after menopause, but may sometimes occur in elderly men also. Osteoporosis in women past menopause is thought to be caused by a reduced amount of ovarian estrogen (a female hormone). However, a diet low in calcium for many years, especially in the younger adult years, may add to the risk of developing it. Other bone diseases in children and adults are also treated with calcium supplements.

Calcium supplements may also be used for other conditions as determined by your health care professional.

Injectable calcium is administered only by or under the supervision of your health care professional. Other forms of calcium are available without a prescription.

Calcium supplements are available in the following dosage forms:

  • Calcium Carbonate
    • Capsules (U.S. and Canada)
    • Oral suspension (U.S.)
    • Tablets (U.S. and Canada)
    • Chewable tablets (U.S. and Canada)
  • Calcium Citrate
    • Tablets (U.S.)
    • Tablets for solution (U.S.)
  • Calcium Glubionate
    • Syrup (U.S. and Canada)
  • Calcium Gluceptate and Calcium Gluconate
    • Oral solution (Canada)
  • Calcium Gluconate
    • Tablets (U.S. and Canada)
    • Chewable tablets (U.S.)
  • Calcium Lactate
    • Tablets (U.S. and Canada)
  • Calcium Lactate-Gluconate and Calcium Carbonate
    • Tablets for solution (Canada)
  • Dibasic Calcium Phosphate
    • Tablets (U.S.)
  • Tribasic Calcium Phosphate
    • Tablets (U.S.)
  • Calcium Acetate
    • Injection (U.S.)
  • Calcium Chloride
    • Injection (U.S. and Canada)
  • Calcium Glubionate
    • Injection (Canada)
  • Calcium Gluceptate
    • Injection (U.S.)
  • Calcium Gluconate
    • Injection (U.S. and Canada)
  • Calcium Glycerophosphate and Calcium Lactate
    • Injection (U.S.)

A calcium ``salt'" contains calcium along with another substance, such as carbonate or gluconate. Some calcium salts have more calcium (elemental calcium) than others. For example, the amount of calcium in calcium carbonate is greater than that in calcium gluconate. To give you an idea of how different calcium supplements vary in calcium content, the following chart explains how many tablets of each type of supplement will provide 1000 milligrams of elemental calcium. When you look for a calcium supplement, be sure the number of milligrams on the label refers to the amount of elemental calcium, and not to the strength of each tablet.

Calcium supplement Strength of each tablet (in milligrams) Amount of elemental calcium per tablet (in milligrams) Number of tablets to provide 1000 milligrams of calcium
Calcium carbonate 625 250 4
650 260 4
750 300 4
835 334 3
1250 500 2
1500 600 2
Calcium citrate 950 200 5
Calcium gluconate 500 45 22
650 58 17
1000 90 11
Calcium lactate 325 42 24
650 84 12
Calcium phosphate, dibasic 500 115 9
Calcium phosphate, tribasic 800 304 4
1600 608 2

Importance of Diet

The daily amount of calcium needed is defined in several different ways.

    For U.S. -
  • Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDAs) are the amount of vitamins and minerals needed to provide for adequate nutrition in most healthy persons. RDAs for a given nutrient may vary depending on a person's age, sex, and physical condition (e.g., pregnancy).
  • Daily Values (DVs) are used on food and dietary supplement labels to indicate the percent of the recommended daily amount of each nutrient that a serving provides. DV replaces the previous designation of United States Recommended Daily Allowances (USRDAs).
    For Canada -
  • Recommended Nutrient Intakes (RNIs) are used to determine the amounts of vitamins, minerals, and protein needed to provide adequate nutrition and lessen the risk of chronic disease.

Normal daily recommended intakes in milligrams (mg) for calcium are generally defined as follows:

Persons U.S. (mg) Canada (mg)
Infants and children
Birth to 3 years of age
400-800 250-550
4 to 6 years of age 800 600
7 to 10 years of age 800 700-1100
Adolescent and adult males 800-1200 800-1100
Adolescent and adult females 800-1200 700-1100
Pregnant females 1200 1200-1500
Breast-feeding females 1200 1200-1500

Getting the proper amount of calcium in the diet every day and participating in weight-bearing exercise (walking, dancing, bicycling, aerobics, jogging), especially during the early years of life (up to about 35 years of age) is most important in helping to build and maintain bones as dense as possible to prevent the development of osteoporosis in later life.

The following table includes some calcium-rich foods. The calcium content of these foods can supply the daily RDA or RNI for calcium if the foods are eaten regularly in sufficient amounts.

Food (amount) Milligrams of calcium
Nonfat dry milk, reconstituted (1 cup) 375
Lowfat, skim, or whole milk (1 cup) 290 to 300
Yogurt (1 cup) 275 to 400
Sardines with bones (3 ounces) 370
Ricotta cheese, part skim (1/2 cup) 340
Salmon, canned, with bones (3 ounces) 285
Cheese, Swiss (1 ounce) 272
Cheese, cheddar (1 ounce) 204
Cheese, American (1 ounce) 174
Cottage cheese, lowfat (1 cup) 154
Tofu (4 ounces) 154
Shrimp (1 cup) 147
Ice milk (3/4 cup) 132

Vitamin D helps prevent calcium loss from your bones. It is sometimes called ``the sunshine vitamin'" because it is made in your skin when you are exposed to sunlight. If you get outside in the sunlight every day for 15 to 30 minutes, you should get all the vitamin D you need. However, in northern locations in winter, the sunlight may be too weak to make vitamin D in the skin. Vitamin D may also be obtained from your diet or from multivitamin preparations. Most milk is fortified with vitamin D.

Do not use bonemeal or dolomite as a source of calcium . The Food and Drug Administration has issued warnings that bonemeal and dolomite could be dangerous because these products may contain lead.

Brand Names

Some commonly used brand names are:

In the U.S. -

  • Alka-Mints 2
  • Amitone 2
  • Calcarb 600 2
  • Calci-Chew 2
  • Calciday 667 2
  • Calcilac 2
  • Calci-Mix 2
  • Calcionate 5
  • Calcium 600 2
  • Calglycine 2
  • Calphosan 9
  • Cal-Plus 2
  • Caltrate 600 2
  • Caltrate Jr 2
  • Chooz 2
  • Citracal 4
  • Citracal Liquitabs 4
  • Dicarbosil 2
  • Gencalc 600 2
  • Liquid-Cal 2
  • Liquid Cal-600 2
  • Maalox Antacid Caplets 2
  • Mallamint 2
  • Neo-Calglucon 5
  • Nephro-Calci 2
  • Os-Cal 500 2
  • Os-Cal 500 Chewable 2
  • Oysco 2
  • Oysco 500 Chewable 2
  • Oyst-Cal 500 2
  • Oystercal 500 2
  • Posture 13
  • Rolaids Calcium Rich 2
  • Titralac 2
  • Tums 2
  • Tums 500 2
  • Tums E-X 2

In Canada -

  • Apo-Cal 2
  • Calciject 3
  • Calcite 500 2
  • Calcium-Sandoz 5
  • Calcium-Sandoz Forte 11
  • Calcium Stanley 7
  • Calsan 2
  • Caltrate 600 2
  • Gramcal 11
  • Nu-Cal 2
  • Os-Cal 2
  • Os-Cal Chewable 2
  • Tums Extra Strength 2
  • Tums Regular Strength 2


For quick reference, the following calcium supplements are numbered to match the corresponding brand names.

This information applies to the following:
1. Calcium Acetate (KAL-see-um ASa-tate)†
2. Calcium Carbonate (KAL-see-um KAR-boh-nate)‡§
3. Calcium Chloride (KAL-see-um KLOR-ide)‡§
4. CalciumCitrate (KAL-see-umSIH-trayt)†‡
5. CalciumGlubionate (KAL-see-umgloo-BY-oh-nate)§
6. CalciumGluceptate (KAL-see-umgloo-SEP-tate)†‡
7. Calcium Gluceptate and Calcium Gluconate (KAL-see-um gloo-SEP-tate and KAL-see-um GLOO-coh-nate)*
8. CalciumGluconate (KAL-see-um GLOO-coh-nate)‡§
9. Calcium Glycerophosphate and Calcium Lactate (KAL-see-um gliss-er-o-FOS-fate and KAL-see-um LAK-tate)†
10. CalciumLactate (KAL-see-um LAK-tate)‡§
11. Calcium Lactate-Gluconate and Calcium Carbonate (KAL-see-um LAK-tate GLOO-coh-nate and KAL-see-um KAR-boh-nate)*
12. Dibasic Calcium Phosphate (dy-BAY-sic KAL-see-um FOS-fate)†‡
13. Tribasic Calcium Phosphate (try-BAY-sic KAL-see-um FOS-fate)†


This information does not apply to calciumcarbonate used as an antacid.

* Not commercially available in the U.S.
† Not commercially available in Canada
‡ Generic name product may be available in the U.S.
§ Generic name product may be available in Canada


Next section


Calcium Supplements: Before Using

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