Harvard Health Letter

What you need to know about: Calcium supplements

Calcium is most effective when it comes from the food you eat. Use our guide to identify convenient sources.

Many people take daily calcium supplement pills. However, two studies published in February 2013 add to the concern that regular use of high-dose calcium supplements may increase the risk of heart disease.

"Based on everything we know so far," says Dr. JoAnn Manson, chief of preventive medicine at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women's Hospital, "the best advice is for adults to try to get 1,000 to 1,200 milligrams of calcium per day from foods. Most people get about 700 milligrams of calcium in the diet. So if you can't increase calcium-rich foods to get to your goal, use low-dose calcium supplement pills to make up the difference—often only 500 milligrams per day in supplements will be needed."

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