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
From Mayo Clinic to your inbox
Sign up for free, and stay up to date on research advancements, health tips and current health topics, like COVID-19, plus expertise on managing health.
ErrorEmail field is required
ErrorInclude a valid email address
To provide you with the most relevant and helpful information, and understand which
information is beneficial, we may combine your email and website usage information with
other information we have about you. If you are a Mayo Clinic patient, this could
include protected health information. If we combine this information with your protected
health information, we will treat all of that information as protected health
information and will only use or disclose that information as set forth in our notice of
privacy practices. You may opt-out of email communications at any time by clicking on
the unsubscribe link in the e-mail.
Thank you for subscribing
Our Housecall e-newsletter will keep you up-to-date on the latest health information.
Sorry something went wrong with your subscription
Please, try again in a couple of minutes
See more Expert Answers
- Dietary reference intakes for calcium and vitamin D. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. http://www.nap.edu/read/13050/chapter/4#37. Accessed Aug. 28, 2018.
- Diagnosis and management of osteoporosis: Adequate calcium intake. Bloomington, Minn.: Institute for Clinical Systems Improvement. https://www.icsi.org/guideline_sub-pages/osteoporosis/adequate_calcium_intake/. Accessed Aug. 28, 2018.
- Calcium. Natural Medicines. https://naturalmedicines.therapeuticresearch.com. Accessed Aug. 28, 2018.
- Calcium. National Institutes of Health. Office of Dietary Supplements. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Calcium-HealthProfessional. Accessed Aug. 28, 2018.
- Zeratsky KA (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Aug. 28, 2018.