Calcium supplements are available as different types of tablet - chewable tablets, effervescent tablets and tablets to swallow whole. Read the label carefully to check how to take your tablets.

Calcium can interfere with the way other medicines are absorbed. If you are taking any other medicines ask your pharmacist for advice.

Calcium supplements rarely cause any side-effects.

About calcium supplements

Type of medicine Calcium supplement
Used for Calcium deficiency
As a phosphate binder
Also called Adcal®; Cacit®; Calcichew®; Calcium-500®; Calcium-Sandoz®; Sandocal®
Available as Tablets, chewable tablets, effervescent tablets, and oral liquid

Calcium is a naturally occurring substance which is important for healthy, strong bones. Our bodies usually get sufficient calcium from what we eat. Good sources of calcium in food are milk, hard cheese (such as cheddar or edam), yoghurt, bread, calcium-fortified soya milk, and some vegetables (spinach and watercress). Sometimes though, our bodies need more calcium than normal, for example in childhood and during pregnancy or whilst breast-feeding. Also, as we get older our bodies may not absorb as much calcium as they once did. When there is not enough calcium in our diet for our body's needs, then a calcium supplement may be useful.

Calcium tablets are also taken by people who have kidney problems. The levels of a substance in the body called phosphate can be too high in people with kidney failure. Calcium binds to the phosphate and this allows it to be removed, helping to keep the levels normal.

Calcium supplements are available on prescription, or you can buy them at pharmacies without a prescription.

Before taking calcium supplements

To make sure this is the right treatment for you, before you start taking a calcium supplement it is important that your doctor or pharmacist knows:

  • If you are pregnant or breast-feeding. This is because, while you are expecting or feeding a baby, you should only take medicines on the recommendation of a doctor.
  • If you have kidney problems, or if you have ever had kidney stones.
  • If you have sarcoidosis. This is a condition causing inflammation, particularly in your lungs and lymph system.
  • If you know you have too much calcium in your blood or urine. This can happen with some cancers.
  • If you are taking any other medicines. This includes any medicines you are taking which are available to buy without a prescription, such as herbal and complementary medicines.
  • If you have ever had an allergic reaction to a medicine.

How to take calcium supplements

  • Before you start this treatment, read the manufacturer's printed information leaflet from the pack. The leaflet will give you more information about how to take the supplement, and also a full list of side-effects which you may experience.
  • If you are prescribed calcium by a doctor, you will be told how many tablets to take each day and when to take them. If you have purchased the tablets from a pharmacy, read the label on the preparation carefully to find out how to take them. Some tablets should be swallowed whole without being chewed, other tablets must be chewed before being swallowed, and some need to be dissolved in water. If you are unsure how to take your tablets, ask your pharmacist for advice.
  • Calcium supplements can interfere with the way your body absorbs other medicines so you may need to take these at a different time to your calcium - please ask your pharmacist for advice.
  • If you forget to take a dose don't worry, just leave out the missed dose and take the next when it is due. Do not take two doses together to make up for a forgotten dose.

Getting the most from your treatment

  • If you are due to have an operation or any dental treatment, tell the person carrying out the treatment which medicines you are taking.
  • If you buy any medicines, check with your pharmacist that they are suitable to take with a calcium supplement.

Can calcium supplements cause problems?

Along with their useful effects, most medicines can cause unwanted side-effects although not everyone experiences them. These usually improve as your body adjusts to the new medicine, but speak with your doctor or pharmacist if any of the following side-effects continue or become troublesome.

Rare calcium side-effects - these affect less than 1 in 1,000 people who take this medicine What can I do if I experience this?
Stomach upset Stick to simple food, and drink plenty of water

If you experience any other symptoms which you think may be due to this medicine, speak with your doctor or pharmacist.

How to store calcium supplements

  • Keep all medicines out of the reach and sight of children.
  • Store in a cool, dry place, away from direct heat and light.