The Advantages & Disadvantages of Liquid Calcium Supplements

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If your diet doesn't meet your calcium intake needs, consider taking liquid calcium supplements. (Image: -lvinst-/iStock/Getty Images)

Having enough calcium in your body is critical for good bone health. Adequate calcium not only lowers your risk of osteoporosis, but it also helps keep your central nervous system, blood vessels and muscles working optimally. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010 state that some groups, especially women and girls, don't get enough calcium in their diets. For these reasons, many turn to calcium supplements. Liquid calcium supplements have increased in popularity as an alternative form of the mineral, but they have their drawbacks, as well. Always talk to your doctor about beginning a calcium regimen. You may have additional adjustments to make with your diet and other medications if you want to take extra calcium. In addition, choose calcium supplements with the abbreviation USP, for U.S. Pharmacopeia, or CL, for ConsumerLab.com. These labels assure you that the supplement has been tested for purity and potency.

Absorption

One advantage of taking a liquid calcium supplement is that this form helps with absorption. It's already broken down when it enters your stomach, making its transition to your bloodstream somewhat easier than pills and powder forms that have to dissolve first. In addition, some calcium tablets can be large and hard to swallow. A liquid formula goes down easily.

Tolerance

Some people taking calcium supplements can experience unwanted side effects, such as gas or constipation. Doctors usually recommend taking calcium supplements in pill form with extra fluids to resolve this problem, but with a liquid calcium supplement, you may avoid these side effects altogether -- provided you don't take too much at once. The National Institutes of Health Osteoporosis and Related Bone Diseases states that 500 milligrams at a sitting is best for absorption. Talk with your doctor before increasing your calcium.

Expense and Portability

Liquid calcium supplements can be a bit more pricey than the pill form. According to Consumer Reports, the pill form of calcium supplements, calcium carbonate, generally has the highest percentage of calcium and usually costs less than other forms of calcium supplements. In addition, because most adults need 1,000 to 1,200 milligrams daily, and supplements should only be taken in 500 milligram doses, you need to take calcium supplements at least twice daily. If you're like many people, you may want the convenience of traveling with your supplements, and liquid calcium supplements are packaged for portability, like pills.

Side Effects

As a supplement, there's always the risk of taking too much liquid calcium and experiencing adverse health effects. In addition, liquid calcium doesn't save you from the side effects inherent to extra calcium intake. For example, MedlinePlus reports that calcium supplements may change the way your body absorbs certain medications, including antibiotics like tetracycline. It may also interfere with any iron supplements you may take. Moreover, taking excessive amounts of calcium over time raises risk of kidney stones in some people.

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