Gluten-free calcium supplements can be helpful for those struggling to eat enough calcium on a gluten-free diet.
Additionally, celiac can cause vitamin d deficiency, low calcium absorption, and poor magnesium uptake. This impaired nutrient absorption can directly impact bone health. So sometimes providers will recommend calcium supplementation (among other things) to support or prevent bone health complications from celiac.
If you and your healthcare team are considering calcium supplements to support your health, below are different types of dietary supplements and their gluten-free status.
When talking about gluten-free calcium supplements, it’s important to know how much calcium someone needs in a day. This is generally guided by the Recommended Dietary Allowance, also known as the RDA in the USA.
Now the RDA for calcium varies by many different factors but generally, most healthy adults need around 1,000mg of calcium a day. That said, age, diagnoses, conditions, etc. can impact your needs.
It’s also important to know what the upper limit of calcium intake a day is. This is the highest level of daily nutrient intake that is would likely not cause any adverse health effects or risks to most people. For most healthy adults, this is 2,000mg of calcium a day. However, this varies by age, diagnoses, conditions, etc. as well.
Supplements can help meet the calcium requirements each day, especially if you are having trouble absorbing calcium from food (like you may have with untreated celiac), if you’re not eating a lot of calcium-rich foods, if you’ve got bone disease, and more.
There are many different types of gluten-free calcium supplements you might take. From pills to gummies, you’ve got options in boosting calcium intake. There are also some forms of calcium used in food products, beauty products, and medical injections but we won’t be talking about those today.
The good news, all forms of calcium are gluten-free. However, you need to be careful about how the calcium is packaged in supplements as sometimes they are not considered celiac-safe. It’s also important to know that supplement labeling laws are very different from food labeling laws so there’s a lot more to take into consideration.
If you’re not sure how to identify safe gluten-free supplements for celiac, this is one of the many celiac-safety topics I cover in the Celiac Crash Course. It’s a self-pacec course designed to make avoiding gluten and cross-contact for celiac routine. Learn more about this dietitian made course here.
Below, we’ll be talking about some of the common supplement forms of calcium, common considerations, and if they are gluten-free. As always, this post is for educational purposes only, always be sure to consult your doctor above all else before starting new supplements or medications.
Calcium citrate in pure form is a gluten-free calcium supplement, however make sure that it’s actually safe as many supplements in the U.S. are not considered gluten-free for celiac. If you’re not sure what you look for on a supplement label to ensure safety, I cover this in my Celiac Crash Course.
Calcium citrate tends to be the preferred calcium supplement for those who need to increase their calcium intake or support their bone health with celiac because it’s the most easily absorbed calcium and can be taken on an empty stomach. That said, it’s not as potent as other forms like calcium carbonate.
Another gluten-free calcium source found in supplements is calcium carbonate. It’s gluten-free alone but again cross-contact and adultery of supplements can render it unsafe. This is why it’s important you’re checking your supplements to make sure they’re gluten-free.
Calcium carbonate, just like calcium citrate, can be taken when you’re not getting enough calcium in your diet or you have bone health complications. Say for example, if you’re lactose intolerant and have celiac so you’re not getting any dairy products.
However, just because you’re not eating dairy doesn’t necessarily mean you’re not getting enough calcium so be sure to consult your dietitian or doctor before starting this supplement.
If you want more help on evaluating your nutrition and getting enough nutrients specific to celiac check out my Nutrition for Celiac Course. A self-paced dietitian-led course that teaches you a flexible and simple way to meet your nutrition needs with celiac WITHOUT cutting more foods out.
Of note, calcium carbonate doesn’t always sit well with people. It’s been reported to cause mild bloating and constipation in some people. That said, you do get more bang for your buck with calcium as this form contains the highest amount of elemental calcium.
Calcium carbonate can also be added to foods for a variety of reasons. It can be used for fortification, coloring, and antacid effects along with other medical uses.
There may be a lot of reasons why you should take a calcium supplement. You may need a calcium supplement if you have low calcium levels in the blood (this is rare), if you’ve got low bone density, if you’re struggling to eat a balanced diet, if you aren’t getting enough calcium from your diet, and more.
When taking calcium supplements, be sure to pay attention to the type of calcium as some can be taken on an empty stomach and others might do better when taken with food.
And ultimately, when deciding to take any supplements, be sure to discuss them with your doctor to make sure they are safe and appropriate for you.
When taking a gluten-free calcium supplement, you may want to pay attention to the other supplements you are taking and when. That’s because some nutrients like vitamin D and magnesium can help absorb calcium. Whereas calcium can impair absorption of other nutrients like iron.
So when taking a calcium supplement, you’ll likely want to discuss the other supplements you’re considering or are taking to make sure there are no interactions.
If you and your doctor decide that taking a gluten-free calcium supplement is the right choice for you, be sure to be smart about your supplement.
Be sure to discuss your daily dose with your provider to make sure it’s safe for you. Being careful of the upper limit for calcium. This is the highest amount most people can without adverse effect. By being mindful of this limit, it can help you manage the risk of side effects and toxicity.
Consider your supplement timing. Taking calcium supplements at the same time at zinc, iron, and certain medications can have adverse effects like impacting absorption. Talk to your doctor about all of the supplements and medications you’re taking to make sure your routine is safe for you.
Ensure you’re getting enough of vitamin D and fat sources if possible to support absorption. You may consider taking other bone minerals as well if you’re choosing to take calcium in response to bone disease.
Make sure the calcium supplement you take is celiac-safe. If you’re taking contaminated or unsafe supplements, that means damage to the small intestine can still occur, impairing healing of the gut and absorption of the nutrients in the supplements. Thus, rendering taking a supplement pointless. So make sure your supplements are celiac-safe.
Found this helpful? I cover other nutrient deficiencies with celiac and supplement recommendations in my Celiac Nutrition Course. A self-paced, dietitian-led course that teaches you simple strategies to use to make sure you’re well-nourished and healing with celiac.