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Calcium supplement (By mouth)

Calcium (KAL-see-um)

Supplies your body with calcium if you need more than you get in your diet. Also helps prevent osteoporosis (weak or brittle bones). This medicine is a mineral that your body needs to work properly.

Brand Name(s):

Actonel with Calcium, Advacal, Alcalak, Alka-Mints, Antacid, Antacid Extra Strength, Cal-C-Caps, Cal-Cee, Cal-Citrate, Cal-G, Cal-Gest, Cal-Lac, Cal-Mint, Calcarb 600, Calci-Chew

There may be other brand names for this medicine.

When This Medicine Should Not Be Used:

You should not use this medicine if you have had an allergic reaction to calcium.

How to Use This Medicine:

Tablet, Chewable Tablet, Liquid, Wafer, Liquid Filled Capsule, Capsule, Granule, Powder

  • Take your medicine as directed.
  • Follow the instructions on the medicine label if you are using this medicine without a prescription. Ask your pharmacist or health caregiver if you are not sure how much calcium you should take in one day.
  • Most calcium supplements should be taken with food. Drink a full glass of water (8 ounces) with each dose, unless you are on kidney dialysis. If you are using this medicine as a phosphate binder for kidney dialysis, do not drink extra water with each dose.
  • Carefully follow your doctor's instructions about any special diet.
  • If you need to take more than one dose each a day, take each dose at evenly spaced times, unless your doctor has told you otherwise.
  • Do not crush, break, or chew the tablet or capsule unless the label says it is chewable. Swallow the regular tablet or capsule whole.
  • If you are using the chewable tablet or wafer, chew it completely before you swallow.
  • Measure the oral liquid medicine with a marked measuring spoon, oral syringe, or medicine cup. You might need to shake the medicine just before using it.

If a dose is missed:

  • Take a dose as soon as you remember. If it is almost time for your next dose, wait until then and take a regular dose. Do not take extra medicine to make up for a missed dose.

How to Store and Dispose of This Medicine:

  • Store the medicine in a closed container at room temperature, away from heat, moisture, and direct light.
  • Ask your pharmacist, doctor, or health caregiver about the best way to dispose of any outdated medicine or medicine no longer needed.
  • Keep all medicine out of the reach of children. Never share your medicine with anyone.

Drugs and Foods to Avoid:

Ask your doctor or pharmacist before using any other medicine, including over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products.

  • Make sure your doctor knows if you are also using other supplements or medicines that contain calcium. Tell your doctor if you are also using gallium nitrate (Ganite®), cellulose sodium phosphate (Calcibind®), or etidronate (Didronel®).
  • Calcium can change the way other medicines work if you take them at the same time. If you need to use other medicines, take them at least 2 hours before or 2 hours after you take your calcium supplement. This is particularly important if you are also using phenytoin (Dilantin®) or a tetracycline antibiotic to treat an infection (such as doxycycline, minocycline, Vibramycin®).
  • Do not take your calcium supplement with a high-fiber meal (such as bran, whole-grain cereal or bread, fresh fruits). Do not smoke cigarettes or cigars. Do not drink large amounts of alcohol or caffeine (for example, more than about 8 cups of coffee).

Warnings While Using This Medicine:

  • Make sure your doctor knows if you are pregnant or breast feeding, or if you are allergic to shellfish. Tell your doctor if you have kidney disease or have ever had kidney stones. Make sure your doctor knows if you have had problems with too much calcium (hypercalcemia) or too little calcium in your blood (hypocalcemia). Some health problems that can cause hypercalcemia are sarcoidosis or problems with your parathyroid gland.
  • You should not use certain brands of this medicine if you have kidney disease or are on dialysis, because they may harm your kidneys. Ask your caregiver what brands are best for you.
  • Some health problems can affect how much calcium you should take. Tell your doctor if you have stomach or digestion problems, such as on-going diarrhea, not absorbing nutrients properly, or not having enough acid in your stomach.
  • If you are using a large amount of calcium or using it for a long time, your doctor might need to check your blood on a regular basis. Be sure to keep all appointments.

Possible Side Effects While Using This Medicine:

Call your doctor right away if you notice any of these side effects:

  • Allergic reaction: Itching or hives, swelling in your face or hands, swelling or tingling in your mouth or throat, chest tightness, trouble breathing
  • Headache that will not go away, dry mouth, loss of appetite, severe constipation.

If you notice these less serious side effects, talk with your doctor:

  • Mild constipation, gas.

If you notice other side effects that you think are caused by this medicine, tell your doctor

Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088


Last Updated: 11/4/2014
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