Are TUMS a Good Calcium Supplement?

Woman taking a pill, focus on hand
The Food and Drug Administration recommends between 1,000 and 1,200 milligrams of calcium per day for adults. (Image: Medioimages/Photodisc/Photodisc/Getty Images)

TUMS have long been used for quick relief of heartburn pain, but the calcium carbonate in TUMS also has other effects on your body. Calcium supplementation is oftentimes used reduce the risk of osteoporosis, but calcium plays many vital roles in the human body. Calcium supports blood clotting, nerve conduction and muscle function. Emerging evidence is also pointing to calcium as a tool to decrease blood pressure, colon cancer risk and the symptoms of premenstrual syndrome.

TUMS Vs. Other Calcium Supplements

TUMS provide a high amount of calcium per pill, at 40 percent, meaning fewer pills are needed in the long run. This can help keep supplement costs down. Additionally, in order for the calcium in TUMS to be absorbed properly, they should be consumed with food, which can make remembering to take them easier.

Calcium Considerations

TUMS are composed of calcium carbonate, which is not absorbed well on an empty stomach, so TUMS should be taken with a meal. In addition, the calcium carbonate in TUMS has been shown to cause constipation. Finally, calcium requires vitamin D for proper absorption. The manufacturers of TUMS point out that TUMS do not contain vitamin D and thus are not an optimal calcium supplement.

Tallying the Tablets

Each 1,000-milligram tablet contains 400 milligrams of calcium, and the 750-milligram tablets contain 300 milligrams. For reference, the daily recommended intake for calcium supplementation is 1,000 to 1,200 milligrams, the equivalent of two to three TUMS tablets.

Alternate Sources of Calcium

Because TUMS are not recommended as a calcium supplement, you're better off considering other sources of calcium. Foods that are high in calcium include milk, cheese, yogurt, some fortified whole-grain cereals, broccoli, salmon (with bones), black beans, tofu and soy milk. If you wish to supplement your calcium with a pill, another option is calcium citrate, which is more easily absorbed on an empty stomach and has forms containing vitamin D for enhanced absorption.

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