When should I take calcium supplements? Does the timing matter?

Answer From Katherine Zeratsky, R.D., L.D.

Yes, timing matters. Three factors determine when you should take calcium supplements:

  • Type of calcium. Check the label to find out what kind of calcium the supplement contains. Calcium citrate can be taken with or without food. Calcium carbonate should be taken with food. Stomach acid produced while eating helps your body absorb calcium carbonate.
  • Total daily dose. Calcium is best absorbed when it's taken in smaller doses (typically less than 600 milligrams at one time). If you take 1,000 mg of calcium a day, split it into two or more doses over the day.
  • Medications and supplements. Calcium supplements can interact with many prescription medicines, including antibiotics, bisphosphonates and high blood pressure medications. Ask your doctor or pharmacist about possible interactions between calcium supplements and your medications.

It's also a good idea to take your calcium supplements at a different time from your multivitamin or an iron-rich meal. Calcium can affect how your body absorbs iron, zinc and magnesium.

If you still aren't sure about the best time to take calcium supplements, check with your doctor or pharmacist for guidance.

Sept. 12, 2020 See more Expert Answers

See also

  1. Add flax to your baking
  2. Calcium
  3. Calcium for better bones
  4. Calcium supplements for men
  5. Calcium: Think outside the cartoon
  6. COVID-19 and vitamin D
  7. Can vitamins help prevent a heart attack?
  8. Can zinc supplements help treat hidradenitis suppurativa?
  9. Vitamin C and mood
  10. Eye vitamins: Can they prevent or treat glaucoma?
  11. Fiber supplements
  12. Flaxseed best when ground
  13. Flaxseed for breakfast?
  14. Ground flaxseed
  15. Heartburn medicines and B-12 deficiency
  16. Herbal supplements
  17. Integrative medicine: Different techniques, one goal
  18. Kratom and pregnancy: Not a safe mix
  19. Multivitamins for kids
  20. Nutrition: Does it come in a pill?
  21. Percent Daily Value
  22. Prebiotics, probiotics and your health
  23. Prenatal vitamins
  24. Magnesium supplements
  25. Nutritional supplements
  26. Are dietary supplements right for you?
  27. Bromelain
  28. Calories and nutrients to fuel sports performance
  29. Curcumin
  30. Dietary supplements: What to know before you buy
  31. Is your dietary supplement safe?
  32. Melatonin
  33. Smart practices for healthy living
  34. Tips for staying supplement savvy
  35. What are omega-3 fatty acids from fish oil?
  36. What are probiotics?
  37. What are multivitamin/mineral dietary supplements?
  38. What is Boswellia?
  39. What is ginger?
  40. What is whey protein?
  41. Vitamin C megadoses
  42. Vitamin C: An essential nutrient
  43. Vitamin D and MS: Any connection?
  44. Vitamin D: Can it prevent Alzheimer's & dementia?
  45. Vitamin D deficiency
  46. Can having vitamin D deficiency cause high blood pressure?
  47. Vitamin D: Essential with calcium
  48. Vitamin D for babies
  49. Vitamin D toxicity
  50. Vitamins for MS: Do supplements make a difference?
  51. What does a 'seal of approval' mean?
  52. Wheatgrass