Osteoporosis Home > Does Calcium Work?

Calcium is known for its effect on strengthening bones, but does calcium work for other uses as well? It has been established that calcium carbonate is effective for treating heartburn and indigestion, and decreasing phosphate absorption in people with hyperphosphatemia due to kidney failure. Intravenous calcium gluconate is effective for treating hyperkalemia. Many other claimed calcium benefits don't have enough evidence to suggest any real benefit.

Does Calcium Really Work?

The effectiveness of calcium for some uses has been clearly established. However, calcium is often claimed to work for a wide variety of conditions, sometimes with little or no scientific evidence to back up such claims. This article will address the effectiveness of calcium for several uses.
 

Clearly Established Uses

It has been clearly established that calcium (in the form of calcium carbonate) is effective for treating heartburn and indigestion. Intravenous calcium gluconate is clearly effective for treating high potassium levels in the blood (hyperkalemia). Taking calcium orally or by IV is clearly effective for treating low calcium levels in the blood (hypocalcemia). Calcium carbonate and calcium acetate are clearly effective for decreasing phosphate absorption in people with high phosphate levels (hyperphosphatemia) due to kidney failure.
 

Generally Accepted Uses

Some calcium uses have been studied enough that most healthcare providers believe calcium really does work for such uses. It is generally accepted in the medical community that calcium is effective for the following uses:
 
  • Treating and preventing osteoporosis
  • Helping build strong fetal bones when taken during pregnancy
  • Treating secondary hyperparathyroidism due to kidney failure
  • Preventing premenstrual syndrome (PMS) symptoms.
     
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;
Last updated/reviewed:
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