Calcium Supplementation and Cardiovascular Risk

Anna Markel Vaysman, PharmD, BCPS; Tara Gleason, PharmD


US Pharmacist 

In This Article

Osteoporosis and Calcium Recommendations

As mentioned above, maintaining an adequate calcium intake is vital for the structural integrity of the skeleton. Recommendations for daily calcium intake differ depending on age. Typically, patients at increased risk for hypocalcemia include those with lactose intolerance, a vegetarian diet, amenorrhea, renal failure, or surgical removal of the stomach, and those who take certain medications, such as diuretics.[1] Additionally, as women approach menopause and bone-resorption rates increase, calcium requirements rise to counterbalance the physiologic changes that older women experience, such as reduced efficiency of calcium utilization and decreased intestinal absorption of nutrients.[2]

Although osteoporosis affects both sexes—with an estimated 10 million U.S. adults diagnosed with the disease—80% of patients are women.[1] Since up to 90% of hip and spine fractures occur in osteoporotic bones, the primary treatment goal for osteoporosis is to prevent or reduce risk of fracture.[2] Evidence to support the benefits of adequate calcium (and vitamin D, to aid calcium absorption) intake is so compelling that the clinical practice guidelines published by the National Osteoporosis Foundation (NOF) recommend that adults aged 50 years and older consume daily at least 1,200 mg of calcium from all sources—both dietary and supplemental—and 800 IU to 1,000 IU of vitamin D.[3] However, to avoid health problems, the NOF advises that daily calcium intake should not exceed 2,000 mg to 2,500 mg.[4]


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