What Is the Connection between Calcium and Constipation?

Christina Edwards

Calcium and constipation can sometimes go hand in hand. Sometimes, a person who has trouble absorbing calcium supplements may suffer constipation. This may be a serious and uncomfortable problem for individuals who need to take calcium supplements. To avoid this side effect of calcium, individuals can follow a few general guidelines.

Lack of calcium may harden feces, causing constipation.
Lack of calcium may harden feces, causing constipation.

Most healthy adults need about 1,300 milligrams of calcium each day. Other individuals, like elderly people and pregnant women, often need much more than this. Since a modern diet may not provide the necessary amount of calcium, a supplement is sometimes needed. For these people, taking calcium and constipation can be related.

Milk is a great source of calcium.
Milk is a great source of calcium.

Unfortunately, some calcium supplements may not be absorbed very easily. When this happens, unabsorbed calcium in the digestive tract can make a person's feces firmer than normal, possibly resulting in constipation. Certain types of calcium, like calcium carbonate, can also lessen the urge to defecate in some people. If a person does not get rid of the waste in his bowels when he should, this could also possibly result in constipation.

Bananas contain calcium.
Bananas contain calcium.

Some calcium supplements are more easily absorbed than others. Calcium carbonate, one of the most common types of calcium found in supplements, is a little hard for a human body to absorb. Calcium citrate, on the other hand, is typically a little easier for the body to absorb. Individuals who are having trouble with calcium and constipation may want to switch their calcium supplements.

Laxatives can help relieve constipation.
Laxatives can help relieve constipation.

There are some strategies for avoiding the constipation caused by calcium. A person who is having a problem with calcium and constipation should first cut down on the amount of calcium he is taking. People should never take more calcium than they need. Taking too much calcium can make it harder for the body to absorb it all.

Sometimes, doctors will recommend large doses of calcium each day. This is especially true for osteoporosis patients, and pregnant women. In this case, a person who is having a problem with taking calcium and constipation can split up a larger dose. This can be done be breaking a calcium tablet into two or three pieces and taking it at separate times. This enables the body to absorb all of it, a little at a time.

Certain other supplements or vitamins taken with calcium can influence whether the body properly absorbs the calcium. An iron supplement should not be taken at the same time as a calcium supplement, since it can interfere with calcium absorption. Magnesium, on the other hand, should be taken at the same time as a calcium supplement. As a general rule of thumb, one part of magnesium should be taken with two parts calcium.

Poorly-absorbed calcium supplements may cause constipation.
Poorly-absorbed calcium supplements may cause constipation.

Discuss this Article

Post your comments
Login:
Forgot password?
Register: