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Does Calcium Cause Constipation?
Gut Health

Does Calcium Cause Constipation?

Written by Edibel Quintero, RD | Medically reviewed by Medically reviewed by Rosmy Barrios, MD
Published on 2022 July 13
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4 min

As the body grows older, bones begin to lose bone mass faster than they can create it. To counteract this, it’s important to nourish your body with enough calcium to maintain strong and healthy bones. But can the calcium supplements lead to constipation?

Does calcium cause constipation

There is, however, such a thing as too much calcium. Excess calcium and certain types of calcium supplements, can cause unwanted side effects.

There is a debate about whether calcium and constipation are linked. Many people are more than capable of consuming plenty of calcium without experiencing constipation. When people rely on supplemental calcium for their daily intake, however, there are reports of constipation.

Does Calcium Cause Constipation? 

Calcium can cause constipation, especially when consumed in the form of calcium carbonate supplements. 

It is best to ingest calcium naturally through a healthy diet to avoid constipation. If you don’t get enough calcium through your normal diet, you can try taking a different type of calcium supplement with fewer side effects.

Supplements cause constipation because they only provide one mineral and some vitamin D. For calcium to get properly absorbed in your body, other minerals should be present, including magnesium, which is a natural laxative.

Calcium carbonate is more often associated with constipation, bloating, and flatulence. While this supplement is rich in calcium and is also cheap, it causes constipation more frequently than other supplement types.

What Is Calcium? 

Calcium is an important mineral that your body needs to thrive. In fact, there is more of it in your body than any other mineral. The vast majority of calcium lives in your bones and teeth to maintain bone density. It keeps your bones hard and strong.

When you are young, calcium is essential for bone growth. It is also used to carry out important bodily functions. This mineral helps blood vessels carry blood and nerve messages throughout your entire body. 

Your body does not produce calcium. This means that to supply your body with the proper calcium levels to function at its best, you must consume and digest it. Once you digest calcium, it is absorbed into your body through the lining of your small intestine. 

For your body to absorb calcium, you also need to have enough vitamin D. If you have a vitamin D deficiency, your body will not properly attain calcium. This can lead to calcium deficiency. 

Sources of Calcium 

There are several ways of incorporating calcium into your diet to ensure its health benefits, like proper bone mass.

Many people absorb calcium by following a calcium-rich diet or by consuming calcium-fortified foods. Others use calcium supplements to ensure their body has enough of the mineral.

One of the best ways to get the recommended daily dose of calcium is by adding calcium-rich foods to your daily balanced diet. Common foods rich in calcium include dairy products like milk, yogurt, and cheese

Small fatty fish with edible bones like sardines are great sources of calcium. Some cereals, non-dairy milk, and other products are fortified with calcium. 

Apart from your diet, calcium supplements are also good. Calcium supplements are popular among those who follow certain diets or have dietary concerns, including vegan diets. It is also necessary for those with various calcium absorption issues.

There are several types of calcium supplements. The most common is calcium carbonate, as they are the cheapest. Calcium carbonate is also high in elemental calcium, which is the type of calcium your body actually uses.

Calcium citrate is also popular as it does not need stomach acid for absorption. This allows the calcium to be absorbed quickly into your body, even with low stomach acid.

Side Effects of Calcium Supplements 

While calcium supplements may positively impact those who lack the vital mineral, there are also potential drawbacks to taking a daily calcium supplement. The most common side effects of calcium supplements are bloating, gas and constipation.

The number of milligrams of calcium you ingest in your calcium supplements also matters. Higher doses of calcium supplements tend to result in more extreme side effects, as the mineral hits your body all at once. Excessive calcium, found in certain types of calcium supplements cause a shock to the system and your intestines to react in unnatural ways when it takes in the calcium supplement. 

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Very high calcium doses have also been linked to kidney stones. Kidney stones can be extremely painful and may even require surgery. To avoid unnecessary problems like this, ensure your dosage is correct. 

Some research suggests very high calcium intake can lead to heart attack and stroke, but others disagree. Overall this claim is inconclusive but is worth noting because of its potential consequences. 

How to Avoid Constipation When Taking Calcium Supplements

  • Drink Lots of Water. Drinking more water can help prevent stools from hardening in the intestines.
  • Increase Physical Activity. Moving your body in the form of cardio can help prevent and alleviate constipation. 
  • Take More Frequent, Lower Dosage Supplements. One trick to avoid constipation is to split up your supplement dose into smaller amounts and spread them out over the course of the day.
  • Eat More High Fiber Foods. Eating foods that are high in fiber has many benefits, including keeping your bowels healthy and regular.
  • Try Using Colon Broom. Colon Broom is a helpful fiber supplement that promotes gut health, with the main active ingredient being psyllium husk.
  • Incorporate Other Supplements. Adding vitamins like vitamin D and magnesium or daily vitamin D supplements and other supplements to your routine can help balance the side effects of just taking a calcium supplement. 

A Word From MD

As you grow older, calcium becomes more and more important for your body. Having enough of this mineral ensures that your bones stay healthy as you age. It also helps to make sure your bones heal properly after unfortunate bone fractures.

Keep in mind that while calcium supplements may help you get the essential minerals you need, they can also have side effects. Make sure you choose the supplement regimen that works for your body.

It is important to remember that even if side effects like constipation happen, there are ways to minimize them. Make sure to consult your physician before starting any new supplements, as they can potentially interfere with prescription medications.

Conclusion

Your body needs many nutrients to keep it running perfectly. Calcium is one of these nutrients. It is critical that you get enough of it, especially once you finish growing.

While calcium supplements and daily calcium supplementation should not be your first resort, they can be effective. Still, it is important to remember too much calcium can be just as harmful as not enough.

The key is to find a balance and regimen while incorporating other supplements like vitamin D that minimize side effects to find what works best for your lifestyle.

Written by
Edibel Quintero is a medical doctor who graduated in 2013 from the University of Zulia and has been working in her profession since then. She specializes in obesity and nutrition, physical rehabilitation, sports massage and post-operative rehabilitation. Edibel’s goal is to help people live healthier lives by educating them about food, exercise, mental wellness and other lifestyle choices that can improve their quality of life.
Medically reviewed byRosmy Barrios, MD
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