Before You Take Calcium for Diarrhea

calcium pills
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Although there is no research support that taking calcium helps ease chronic diarrhea from IBS, success stories abound on online IBS support groups. Before you follow this trend, it is important to realize that taking vitamin supplements is not guaranteed to be harmless. Here are the things you should consider before taking calcium for diarrhea.

Understand Calcium’s Role in Your Body’s Health

Calcium is a mineral that is essential to your body’s health.

Almost all of the calcium in your body serves to strengthen bones and teeth. The remaining 1% of the calcium in your body plays an important role in many bodily functions, including muscle movement, fluid secretion, blood pressure, and nerve cell communication. Although generally considered safe, studies of calcium supplementation for osteoporosis and other chronic health problems have looked at a risk for cardiovascular problems. Some studies have shown no risk, while others have shown a slight risk.

    Get Your Doctor’s Approval

    Before using any kind of over-the-counter remedy, it is important that you discuss the issue with your physician. Your doctor is in the unique position of knowing your individual health history and can assess whether you possess any specific risk factors for regular calcium use. You may find that since there is no specific research backing calcium as a treatment, your doctor may be reluctant to make an endorsement.

    What you need is to hear from your doctor that trying a calcium supplement will do you no harm.

    Stay Within Recommended Limits

    You can click here to get information as to the recommended daily intake of calcium. The amount recommended varies by age. Different guidelines are offered for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.

    Be Aware of Medication Interactions

    Calcium has the potential to interfere with a wide variety of medications that you may be taking to treat other medical problems. This problem can be addressed by speaking with your doctor or pharmacist about timing your doses so as to prevent the problem of the calcium binding with the medication and preventing absorption. Here is a list of types of medications that may be negatively impacted by supplemental use of calcium:

    • Antacids that contain aluminum
    • Antibiotics
    • Blood pressure medications
    • Diuretics
    • Heart medications
    • Medication for osteoporosis

      Read the Label to be Aware of Extra Ingredients

      If you have made the decision to try a calcium supplement, make sure that the product you purchase does not contain magnesium. Magnesium carries a possible side effect of diarrhea, which is the last thing you need. If you are taking calcium for bone strength, you can and should continue to take a calcium supplement that contains vitamin D, which helps with absorption.

      Maximize Absorption

      Calcium supplements come in two forms, calcium citrate and calcium carbonate. Calcium citrate has the benefit of easier absorption, but you may find that one type or the other works better for you. Absorption is best when calcium is taken in doses of 500 mg or less, so it may be necessary to spread your doses out throughout the day. Read the label of your supplement to see if the product should be taken with food or between meals.

      Sources:

      Bolland, M., et.al. "Effect of calcium supplements on risk of myocardial infarction and cardiovascular events: meta-analysis" BMJ 2010 341:c3691.

      Wang, L., et.al. "Systematic Review: Vitamin D and Calcium Supplementation in Prevention of Cardiovascular Events" Annals of Internal Medicine 2010 152:315-323.

      "Commonly Asked Questions About Calcium Supplements." New York State Department of Health.

      Dietary Supplement Fact Sheet: Calcium. National Institute of Health Office of Dietary Supplements.

      Possible Interactions with: Calcium. University of Maryland Medical Center.

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