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Medical Article
Calcium Supplements : An Overview
 Author : Nandha Ruchika (MBBS,MD Pharmacology) Department(s) and institution(s) -- Department of Pharmacology, Dr Harvansh Singh Judge Institute of Dental Sciences, Panjab University, Sector 25, Chandigarh.
Osteoporosis is a major cause of morbidity in today’s world due to modern life style and diets deficient in calcium .Deficiency of calcium can lead to rickets, secondary vitamin D deficiency, postmenopausal and senile osteoporosis. Due to rising trend of calcium deficiency in our population it is necessary to take appropriate calcium supplements along with vitamin D in adequate amounts. Calcium carbonate is the most popular calcium supplement because of high elemental calcium content (40%) and cost effectiveness .Because of higher solubility calcium citrate offers same bioavailability as calcium carbonate inspite of less amount of elemental calcium (21%). It is the preferred supplement in persons with oxalate stones, achlorohydria or on long term therapy with proton pump inhibitors. Calcium formate seems to be a promising supplement because of its high solubility, rapid absorption and better bioavailability. Other formulations either contain less amount of elemental calcium or are unrefined.

Calcium is an essential mineral required in our body to perform important functions like nerve conduction, cardiac stimulation, smooth muscle contraction, blood clotting and most importantly strengthening of our bones and teeth. Although our body stores >99% of calcium in our bones and teeth, calcium is also found in extracellular fluids and plasma and if plasma calcium is low , level of calcium falls in bones leading to gradual weakening of bones leading to osteoporosis.[1] Deficiency of this magical element is not acceptable in any age group and specially high risk groups as can lead to rickets, poor bone mass accrual as well as abnormal fetal programming during pregnancy, poor peak bone mass in childhood and adolescence, secondary vitamin D deficiency, postmenopausal and senile osteoporosis.[2] Deficiency of calcium is a very common in our population specially post menopausal females leading to osteoporotic changes which is a major cause of morbidity in elderly.

Since 1980, clinical trials have been done on calcium due to its major contribution observed in promoting growth and retention of bones in children and postmenopausal women.[3] After that, new non skeletal uses of calcium have been explored explaining its role in treatment of hypertension, cardiovascular diseases, colon cancer ,diabetes mellitus and maintaining body composition in post menopausal females.