Calcium Is Essential for Strong Back and Neck Bones

Calcium is key to bone health, but a supplement isn’t always necessary.

Calcium is one of the primary building blocks of strong, healthy bones—including the bones of your spine. Eating a diet rich in calcium may help prevent serious spinal problems, such as spinal fractures and osteoporosis. The best way to get enough calcium is to eat plenty of calcium-rich foods, but you may need a calcium supplement to ensure you’re consuming enough each day.

This article can help you determine if you may need a calcium supplement, but always talk with your doctor to make sure it’s the right decision for you.
close up of little girl eating yogurt at homeCalcium is one of the primary building blocks of strong, healthy bones—including the bones of your spine. Photo Source:

Calcium Supplements: Filling Gaps, Not a Food Replacement

Calcium supplements can help you reach your daily recommended amount of calcium, but they are not intended to replace calcium-rich foods. If you’re getting enough calcium in your diet, a supplement isn’t necessary. However, if not, a lack of sufficient calcium intake could have detrimental effects on your bones and health.

How Much Calcium Do You Need Each Day?

Before considering a supplement, it’s important to know how much calcium you should be getting each day. Daily calcium recommendations vary by age and sex. Read Calcium, Vitamin D and Magnesium—The Big 3 for Bone Health to learn how much calcium you should consume each day.

How Much Calcium Is in Your Diet?

Once you know how much calcium you should be getting, it’s time to evaluate how much you actually get.

One bone health advocacy group, American Bone Health1 recommends using the Calcium Rule of 300 to determine if a supplement may be necessary.

Here’s how it works:
1. Start with the number of dairy or fortified juice servings you consume daily.
2. Multiply that number by 300.
3. Add 300 if you eat a nutritious and balanced diet.
4. The total is your dietary intake of calcium.
5. If your total doesn’t meet your recommended daily calcium number, you may want to talk with your doctor about a calcium supplement.

Calcium Supplement Tips

If you and your doctor decide to add a calcium supplement to your daily regimen, check out these tips for supplement success:

  • Make sure your doctor and pharmacist know about all your medications and supplements—even if they are over-the-counter brands—as they may interfere with one another. For example, calcium and iron supplements can prevent each other from absorbing properly when taken together.
  • Purchase supplements that carry the USP Verified symbol, which indicates that the supplement has been independently evaluated and certified.
  • Instead of taking 1 high-dose calcium supplement (more than 500-600 mg), take smaller-dose supplements 2-3 times throughout the day. Your body cannot absorb more than 500-600 mg of calcium supplements at one time.
  • Drink plenty of water with your supplement, as some types can cause constipation.
  • Don’t take your calcium supplement with a high-fiber meal or laxative, as fiber can prevent your body from fully absorbing calcium.

More Resources about Eating and Supplementation for Spine Health

The foods and supplements you consume affect the bones in your spine—some for better, others for worse. You can learn more about eating and supplementing for spine health below:

Updated on: 10/08/19
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