How much calcium should I take, and do I need to take Vitamin D to get the calcium benefits?
Calcium requirements vary, so check with your health-care provider before you begin taking any supplements. As a general rule, the recommended daily allowance of calcium for most American men and women, from adolescence through adulthood, is 1,000 to 1,200 milligrams per day. Pregnant women and women who are breast-feeding should take a bit more: 1,200 to 1,500 mg per day. Postmenopausal women who are not taking estrogen should take closer to 1,500 mg per day.
Vitamin D helps with the absorption of calcium, and most people should take between 400 and 800 international units per day—400 of this can come from a multivitamin, while the other 400 can come from milk or other sources.
What about constipation?
Calcium supplements can back things up a bit, so try getting your calcium from food sources. Low-fat dairy products are probably best. But if dairy doesn’t agree with you, try calcium-enriched juice, cereal, or bread. Calcium carbonate is often the bad actor in the constipation issue, so you might consider taking calcium citrate. This switch may involve a few more pills and a bit more cash, but let’s face it: There are few things in life more underrated than a good bowel movement.