Osteoporosis causes weak bones that can fracture easily. Taking calcium for osteoporosis may help support a person’s bone health, but taking too much calcium may cause side effects.
This condition can develop slowly and may not cause symptoms. People may not know they have the condition until they experience a fracture.
The risk of developing osteoporosis increases with age. Osteoporosis is a major cause of fractures in postmenopausal females and older males. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) estimates that
This article explores the benefits of calcium for osteoporosis and health considerations for taking calcium. It also discusses tips for managing osteoporosis and when to speak with a doctor about the condition.
A note about sex and gender
Sex and gender exist on spectrums. This article will use the terms “male,” “female,” or both to refer to sex assigned at birth. Click here to learn more.
Bones are partly made of mixtures of calcium with other minerals, such as calcium phosphate. However, a person cannot make calcium. Instead, they get calcium from the food and drink they eat.
If people do not get enough calcium as part of their diet, it
A person may decide to add good sources of calcium to their diet to help reduce the risk of osteoporosis. These
- dairy products
- dark green leafy vegetables and broccoli
- certain fish, such as canned sardines and salmon with bones
- calcium fortified foods like:
People can also take calcium in supplement form. This may be a more suitable option for people living in food deserts, or areas with limited access to healthy and affordable food. However, a person should speak with a healthcare professional before taking any supplements.
A calcium-rich diet may help people
Hypercalcemia, or high calcium levels, is rare but may occur as a result of certain health conditions or if a person takes excessive amounts of calcium supplements. Symptoms of hypercalcemia
- poor muscle tone
- kidney dysfunction
- hypophosphatemia, or low levels of phosphate in the blood
- an irregular heartbeat
- unintentional weight loss
- more frequent urination
- a greater risk of mortality due to cardiovascular disease (CVD)
|Group||Recommended daily calcium intake|
|Females ages 19–50||1,000 mg|
|Females ages 51 or older||1,200 mg|
|Males ages 19–70||1,000 mg|
|Males ages 71 or older||1,200 mg|
|Children aged 6–12 months||260 mg|
|Children ages 1–3||700 mg|
|Children ages 4–8||1,000 mg|
|Children ages 9–18||1,300 mg|
People should speak with a healthcare professional if they are concerned about their calcium levels or osteoporosis.
Other ways people can manage their osteoporosis
- preventing falls, by:
- exercising to improve strength and balance
- standing up slowly, or using a cane or walker for steadiness
- installing night-lights and grab bars in their home bathroom
- taking extra using stairs during rainy or wet weather
- eating foods that support bone health, such as:
- dairy products, such as milk
- leafy green vegetables
- fortified juices
- doing physical activities that can build and strengthen bones, such as:
- strength training
- climbing stairs
- quitting smoking, as smoking can increase a person’s risk of weakened bones
- limiting alcohol consumption, as alcohol can affect bone health
People with osteoporosis should check with their doctor before beginning a new exercise program.
If people cannot get enough calcium from their diet, they
- safe amounts of calcium to take each day
- reputable supplement manufacturers and suitable supplements
- whether to take vitamin D supplements
Healthcare professionals can also monitor a person’s osteoporosis or recommend alternative treatments if necessary.
People need calcium to build healthy bones in childhood and maintain them during adulthood. If a person does not have enough calcium in their diet, their risk of developing osteoporosis is higher.
Certain foods are good sources of calcium. People can also take calcium supplements if they cannot get enough calcium as part of their diet.
However, people should consult a healthcare professional before taking any calcium supplements. Having too much calcium in the body may cause side effects and increase a person’s risk of other health conditions.