Harvard Health Letter

By the way, doctor: Should I switch calcium supplements?

Q. A recent test showed I have some hip osteopenia. Now every day I take two Tums Ultra (800 mg of calcium) plus a multivitamin (200 mg of calcium). I also get a total of 800 International Units (IU) of vitamin D daily. I've been advised that Tums aren't sufficient. Do I need to switch to a more expensive calcium supplement?

A. If you're older than 50, as of 2006 the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for calcium is 1,200 mg. So even with the Tums and the multivitamin, you're still 200 mg short of the RDA. Calcium-rich foods such as fortified cereals and orange juice, tofu, or yogurt can help you bridge the gap.

But in my view, the evidence that you need that much calcium isn't very strong. Indeed, 1,200 mg may be too much. Experts on our faculty advocate a daily intake of between 500 and 1,000 mg.

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