Calcium Magnesium and Zinc Supplement Side Effects

Calcium, magnesium and zinc are essential minerals. Calcium builds and maintains healthy bones, and when combined with magnesium, regulates heart and muscle function and conducts nerve impulses. Magnesium is also important for energy production and DNA synthesis. Zinc is required for normal growth and development, vision health and immune system function. Supplements are available for individuals who do not obtain these three essential minerals through diet alone. If you choose to supplement, be aware of possible adverse side effects and always consult with your doctor about dose and type before adding supplements to your daily routine.

Calcium builds and maintains healthy bones, and when combined with magnesium, regulates heart and muscle function and conducts nerve impulses. (Image: sasimoto/iStock/GettyImages)

Calcium Supplement Side Effects

You need calcium in your body for strong bones and teeth. It is also important for your heart, nerves and blood-clotting systems. The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for calcium for adults is 1,000 to 1,200 milligrams a day. If you're taking a supplement, you shouldn't exceed more than 2,000 to 2,500 milligrams a day.

Calcium supplements are usually well tolerated, but some people experience gastrointestinal disturbances, including gas or constipation when taking supplemental calcium. These may be avoided by gradually increasing the dose of calcium over several days.

Increasing your intake of fluid and high fiber foods in your diet should alleviate gastrointestinal symptoms. If side effects persist, try switching to a different formulation of calcium supplement.

Calcium supplements are available as calcium carbonate, calcium phosphate and calcium citrate and individuals tolerate these compounds differently. Never take more than the manufacturer's recommended dose without consulting your physician.

Magnesium Supplement Side Effects

You need magnesium for many processes in your body, including maintaining bone, regulating muscle and nerve function, controlling blood sugar levels and energy production. Dietary Guidelines recommend the daily intake for magnesium is 420 mg for men and 320 mg for women.

The most common side effect of magnesium supplementation is diarrhea. High doses of magnesium may trigger a decrease in blood pressure and this may result in lethargy, confusion, heart rhythm disturbances and deterioration of kidney function. Muscle weakness, difficulty breathing and cardiac arrest may occur.

Do not consume more than 350 mg per day of supplemental magnesium without consulting your healthcare provider. If you have kidney disease, you are at higher risk for the side effects of magnesium supplementation.

Zinc Supplement Side Effects

Zinc is necessary to help your immune system and metabolic function. The recommended daily intake for zinc is 11 mg for men and 8 mg for women. For people who do not take zinc for medical reasons under the care of a doctor, the upper level for zinc from supplements is 40 mg for adults, according to NIH.

Zinc supplements may cause nausea or upset stomach. These symptoms can be reduced by taking your supplement with a meal. High fiber foods reduce the absorption of the zinc and should be avoided for 2 hours after you take a zinc supplement.

High levels of zinc in supplemental form may interfere with the absorption of magnesium as well as copper, iron, or phosphorus. These supplements should be taken at different times of day to obtain the maximum benefits of each. Large doses of zinc may cause chills and fever, gastrointestinal distress, sore throat, ulcers or sores in the mouth or throat and fatigue and weakness.

See your doctor if you experience these symptoms after taking supplemental zinc and never consume doses higher than the manufacturer's recommended instructions.

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