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JLeslie's avatar

All those years women were told to take extra calcium, were doctors testing their calcium levels in their blood?

Asked by JLeslie (63526points) April 12th, 2013

I have no idea if doctors actually told patients to take calcium or not. I was never told to take it, but I was fairly young when there was a big push about calcium. I know a lot of women took extra calcium because they thought it would help with preventing bone loss.

I have several questions:

Did your doctor ever suggest taking extra calcium?

If yes, how much?

If you took extra calcium on your own did your doctor know? Did/does he monitor your OTC, vitamin, mineral and herbal intake?

If you did take calcium, did your doctor ever run a blood test to check your calcium?

Did your doctor recommend taking vitamin D with calcium and tell you why you should? If he told you why, did you think it was because it helps the calcium absorb into the bone? Did he mention it was also so the calcium does not clog or stiffen your arteries or other soft tissues?

Did your doctor recommend taking vitamin K2 along with the D?

It’s very possible your calcium was checked, even if not specifically because you take calcium. Calcium is part of a common panel of blood tests that also includes electrolytes, glucose and others. So if your doctor typically ran blood tests, you might very well have had your calcium checked without knowing.

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19 Answers

Judi's avatar

I think now they would rather push the bone density meds. I refuse to take them. I wish I was better at compliance because I would rather take calcium and vit. D.
My sister is convinced that the Bone density meds killed my mom and her best friend. Both died of liver cancer within months of each other.. My mom had awful pain before she quit the beds a few months before she was diagnosed.
I don’t think my calcium was checked but my Vitamin D has been and my Dexa test has indicated I have osteopenia.

JLeslie's avatar

@Judi Do you mean drugs like Fosamax?

Have you looked into Calcitriol? I really know very little about these drugs, but I thought Cacitriol is D3 and calcium, I could be wrong, and it might also have some other synthetic thing in there. My mom takes that for her osteopenia. However, her clood calcium level did get too high and she needed to lower her dose, whoch now seems ok. She probably has some sort of genetic propensity for high calcium levels. She had a EBCT and it showed calcium all over her body. The doctor joke she should be dead. It makes sense she would have bone loss if the calcium has been going the wrong place for many years.

rojo's avatar

My wife also has been diagnosed with osteopenia and her mother has been bent almost double for several years so she is concerned. She has been on Fossamax for a couple of years now and was surprised last week when she went in because her prescription was up. The doc told her to lay off for a year. Theory is that it works better when administered at intervals.
Wonder what next years theory du jour will be?

Judi's avatar

Yes. I think she was on fosomax. I took Boniva for a couple of months. Never again. I won’t put anything in my body that takes a month to get rid of!

bkcunningham's avatar

I went in for a Depo Provera shot and a saw new doctor I hadn’t seen before, she was doing her fellowship. She asked me if I took a calcium supplement and said the Depo had a tendency to deplete calcium. I asked if she would test me to see if I needed to take a supplement. She said there really isn’t any need to do that if you would just take the supplement. She said it wouldn’t hurt to take the supplement.

I asked her how much and she asked me if I was taking a multivitamin, I said no and she said that was all I needed.

JLeslie's avatar

@bkcunningham So did you decide to take the calcium? I am pretty sure the problem with the blood test is it does not really measure if calcium is getting into the bone, it measures what is circulating in the blood. But, if the number is high it can be dangerous because it indicates calcium can be depositing in the wrong places. Maybe even the number can be normal and calcium can be depositing in other soft tissues and organs? I don’t know the science well enough. I just know I check my calcium once in a while.

Recently, from what I have seen on TV, there are new studies saying taking extra calcium in some of the higher doses that were recommended can cause more harm than good there is a question if it helped bone at all, and that it could have increased chances of heart disease and heart attacks. For whatever reason I always had a feeling taking extra calcium might be bad. It’s in my multi, but that’s it.

I think most doctors think it can’t hurt. They say the same with the water soluble vitamins. But, some studies show problems even with water soluble vitamins when taken in very large doses.

Judi's avatar

Moderation in all things.

JLeslie's avatar

@Judi It’s so hard to know what to do. When my doctor first prescribed me Vitamin D I was extremely reluctant to take such a large dose. It took me several months to give in. The long story short is it is significant for my pain relief and muscle stamina, so now I feel I really need the D and take what I consider to be huge doses. There is some negative information out there about it. My gut feeling is D from the sun is much much better as long as you don’t mind wrinkles and skin cancer. <sigh> Can’t win. Maybe if the recommended dose had been this high for the last 50 years for D it woud seem like nothing.

As far as calcium, I still think it is hard to know what to do. Maybe larger doses of calcium are good if people are also taking adequate D and K?

I’m trying to be more vegan, and hoping consuming even more vegetables and fruit help my vitamin and mineral dificencies.

I just don’t ike when doctors think something can’t hurt us. Know what I mean? That they don’t check to see what is happening to their individual patient when on a regimen, no matter what the commn thought is.

Judi's avatar

I’m currently seeing an osteopath. Way more wholistic in his approach. It is a bigger hustle though. Instead of a blood test for hormones I had to do a saliva test that was a 5 day process. Do you know how hard it is to produce a vile of saliva?

gailcalled's avatar

^^^ Vial, although your spelling has merit in the context.

Get your calcium from vegetables. It’s easy:

Table 1: Calcium Content of Selected Vegan Foods

Calcium (mg)

Blackstrap molasses 2 Tbsp 400
Collard greens, cooked 1 cup 357
Other plant milks, calcium-fortified 8 ounces 300–500
Tofu, processed with calcium sulfate* 4 ounces 200–420
Calcium-fortified orange juice 8 ounces 350
Soy or ricemilk, commercial, calcium-fortified, plain 8 ounces 200–300
Commercial soy yogurt, plain 6 ounces 300
Turnip greens, cooked 1 cup 249
Tofu, processed with nigari* 4 ounces 130–400
Tempeh 1 cup 184
Kale, cooked 1 cup 179
Soybeans, cooked 1 cup 175
Bok choy, cooked 1 cup 158
Mustard greens, cooked 1 cup 152
Okra, cooked 1 cup 135
Tahini 2 Tbsp 128
Navy beans, cooked 1 cup 126
Almond butter 2 Tbsp 111
Almonds, whole ¼ cup 94
Broccoli, cooked 1 cup 62

Judi's avatar

Thanks @gailcalled. I knew it didn’t look right but was to lazy to look it up. I just realized you didn’t correct hustle/hassle. That was me trying to spell it wrong and auto correct not reading my mind well enough.

gailcalled's avatar

@Judi: From my personal experience with osteopaths, “hustle” fits the bill perfectly. Now go and eat your greens, please and save the money for a treat for you and Mr. Judi.

JLeslie's avatar

@gailcalled I am hoping doubling my veggie intake will help with my vitamin and mineral dificiencies, but I can’t see how vitamin D will be enough from food. My hope is that the better diet all around helps absorption, and that I am pleasantly surprised and can stop taking supplements. I need to take around 8k-10k IU’s a day of vitamin D to stay up in the normal range. And, I am not looking to be in the high side of the normal range, just around 50. I tend to hover in the 40’s actually.

What I think is probably most realistic is to eventually be able to cut my supplements in half. Time will tell.

gailcalled's avatar

^^^ Mega-doses of vitamin D 3 is another subject, between you and your PCP.

Judi's avatar

I just had my vitamin D checked and it was in the low normal range.

bkcunningham's avatar

No, @JLeslie. I’ve never been able to tolerate vitamin supplements. The really do a number with my digestive system. I really get plenty of calcium in my food.

JLeslie's avatar

@gailcalled That’s exactly what I always say, except I say doctor not GP. I don’t think anyone should take large doses of anything without a blood test.

gailcalled's avatar

^^^: I said Primary Care Physician and not GP.

JLeslie's avatar

I could swear you wrote GP. My mistake. I wouldn’t use PCP either. I would just say doctor. It was my endocrinologist who bothered to test me for vitamin D, I’ve never had a PCP suggest it. I did have on GP who discovered my low B12. I don’t have great experiences in the last 20 years with PCP doctors. I know some people do. I think GYN should be willing to do a lot of the tests. Many women only see their GYN regularly.

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