Type of calcium

Hi all, don't respond much but do read your informative posts. I do have a wonderful neuro-ophthmalogist at Wills Eye Hospital in Philadelphia, PA, USA. Doctors can't take the time to tell us what experience has taught all on this board.

Diagnosed with GCA with a TAB in January 2015. Started with 60mg prednisone, was down to 2mg in January when CRP sky rocketed and went back to 10mg. Now on a slow 5mg. Have been taking the 600 mg with D3 twice a day and a multi vitamin. Also eat Greek yogurt at least once a day in addition to my skim milk at dinner.

DEXA scan was normal in January 2015. DEXA last month showed osteopenia, about 13% loss. Rheumy does not want to do anything at this time.

But I am wondering which type of calcium is best to use. I have been using the calcium carbonate.

Thanks in advance.


10 Replies

  • Whatever suits you - most of us use calcium carbonate because that is what we are given on prescription. I haven't had any problems and my bone density has remained fine over 8 years of pred.

    HeronNS will tell you about the alternatives which are supposed to be absorbed better - and there are people who find some versions of calcium carbonate upset their stomach.

    But more important I think is not to take it as the same time as your pred and make sure you are taking vit D and a small amount of fat at the same time for transport purposes.

  • Thanks, PMRpro. I was a little disappointed that it showed osteopenia as I have been taking the calcium at lunch time and at bedtime (hopefully to help me sleep), Vit D, eating yogurt and drinking skim milk in addition to walking and strenuous exercise at the gym. The Rheumy wasn't concerned, though. My DIL did say that her DEXA shows osteopenia every other scan.

  • I have osteopenia - anyone our age is likely to as it is a comparison with a 25 year old. It is the degree that is significant.

    Skim milk isn't as good as semi-skimmed - you absorb far less calcium even though it supposedly has more. You don't absorb it without some fat present.

  • PMRpro,

    Sorry to be so long in replying as we have too much going on right now. But I am wondering if the semi-skimmed milk is the same as the 1% in the US?

  • Yes - semi-skimmed in Europe usually has 1.5% fat. Skimmed is 0% fat. Full fat may have anything from 3.5 to 5% fat. Which is still pretty low in fat compared with a lot of things.

    Unnaturally low-fat foods/diets have a lot to answer for in terms of health!!!

  • Helen I see two doctors at wills one is for cornea and one is for Retna. I would be curious who you see at wills. I have osteoporosis from five years of prednisone. I am now taking a calcium that is made from algae which I buy from Canada. It is very expensive but it has kept my calcium number normal which is a must because I take shots of prolia. Unfortunately osteoporosis runs in my family. If you are interested in the name and phone number I will post. They do have a really fabulous website They concentrate on bones only. Marilyn

  • Marilyn, I see my wonderful Dr. Mark Moster. I just love him. He is the one who diagnosed me with the GCA. My ophthmalogist swore it was myasthenia gravis. I did have the TAB, which proved GCA.

    Who are the doctors that you see?

    Yes, I would be interested in the name and number of the calcium.

    BTW are you in the Philadelphia area?


  • Without looking it up, what I remember is that if you take carbonate then it's a good idea to have a citrus fruit with it, or some form of Vitamin C. Generally speaking calcium citrate is considered more absorbable. However I did read that calcium hydroxyapatite is more readily absorbed by people on pred. I got a special bones supplement which contained that (it is made from New Zealand cattle bones so no risk of mad cow disease) and have only recently decided to switch back to calcium citrate as my pred dose is very low now. The bones supplement with the hydroxyapatite was already expensive and they seem to have raised the price.

    However the most important thing is, provided you are not on something like warfarin, is to have a source of Vitamin K2. This vitamin, along with magnesium, guides calcium into the bones. Vitamin D can't do that. So maybe it's more the other micronutrients you need to be looking at rather than the kind of calcium?

    And weightbearing exercise.

  • Thanks HeronNS. My primary doctor did recommend calcium citrate or calcium gluconate but the pharmacy stores here only carry the carbonate. I do have an online website that I do order other things. I'll have to see if they carry it. I am down to 5mg on the prednisone now.

    I'll take a look at the other micronutrients. I do get the weight bearing exercise.

    Thank you for the info.

  • It is a puzzle about the supplements carried by pharmacies isn't it? I have to go to a health food store to get calcium citrate, not to mention that specialized bone health supplement. Same with liquid iron my doctor recommended. Can get it from a supermarket or health store, but not a pharmacy! And of course there's no Vitamin K2 to be seen.

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