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Menopause cannot be prevented; however, steps can be taken to help reduce the risk factors for other problems associated with menopause. It is recommended that postmenopausal women consume 1200 to 1500 mg of elemental calcium (total diet plus supplements if necessary, and 800 Units of vitamin D daily.
The least expensive way to obtain calcium is through diet. Diet can easily provide 1,000-1,500 mg of calcium daily. The following foods contain calcium:
Dietary calcium supplements are a good option for women who cannot consume adequate calcium through diet. Calcium carbonate (Caltrate 600, Caltrate 600 Plus D, Caltrate Plus) is the least expensive, although some women complain of bloating. Calcium citrate may be better absorbed by women who take acid-blocking medications, such as ranitidine (Zantac) or cimetidine (Tagamet).
Calcium products made from bone meal, dolomite, or unrefined oyster shells may contain lead and should be avoided. Products with "USP" on the label meet the voluntary quality standards set by the United States Pharmacopeia and are more likely not to contain harmful contaminants.
Women should carefully read the label of calcium supplements to check the exact number of milligrams of elemental calcium in each supplement. The intestinal tract generally does not absorb more than 500 mg of elemental calcium at a time, so calcium intake should be spread out during the day.
Women should not take excessive doses of calcium due to the risk of kidney stones. Women with certain medical conditions, such as sarcoidosis or kidney stones, should consult their health care professionals prior to taking calcium supplements.
Vitamin D plays an important role in calcium absorption, but megadoses should be avoided.
Medically reviewed by Steven Nelson, MD; Board Certified Obstetrics and Gynecology
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 5/9/2014
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