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Why Do Calcium & Vitamin D Make You Constipated?

By Lynne Sheldon

Your bones and other bodily systems need both calcium and vitamin D to stay strong and work their best. If you experience constipation from these nutrients, it will most likely be because you are taking too many of them in supplement form. Constipation can occur for reasons other than supplement intake. Talk to your doctor if you experience any prolonged changes in your bowel habits.

Symptoms and Other Causes of Constipation

When you are constipated, your stools will become hard and infrequent, and you may feel an increased amount of strain while having a bowel movement. Most people experience this from time to time, and it is not typically the sign of a more serious condition. While excessive intake of calcium and vitamin D supplements can make you constipated, it can also result from not drinking enough fluids, not eating enough fiber, changing your lifestyle or activity level or certain diseases like irritable bowel syndrome or diabetes. If you are concerned about your bowel habits or do not notice your constipation improving after three days, seek medical attention.

Overdose Symptoms and Upper Limits of Calcium and Vitamin D

When you consume too much of any supplement, it will most likely have negative repercussions throughout your body, inhibiting functions such as your bowel movements. Getting more than 2,500 mg calcium a day can cause constipation and an upset stomach. It can also cause the development of kidney stones, vomiting, confusion and an irregular heart rate. Similarly, taking more than 4,000 IU of vitamin D a day can result in constipation, as well as tiredness, eye pain, bone pain and problems with your muscles. High intake of vitamin D also increases your calcium levels, leading to the symptoms of a calcium overdose.

RDA, Food and Constipation Prevention

To avoid constipation and other side effects, keep your intake of calcium and vitamin D below the upper limits. For calcium, the RDA is 1,000 mg for those under 50, and for vitamin D, it is 600 IU for those under 70, according to National Institutes of Health online medical encyclopedia Medline Plus. You can get both nutrients by consuming cheese or milk fortified with vitamin D. Yogurt, canned sardines and turnip greens are other sources of calcium, and salmon, oysters and fortified margarine contain vitamin D. If you do take supplements, talk to your doctor about the correct dosage. Take your pills with plenty of water, and drink more throughout the day. Eat fiber-rich produce and whole grains to avoid constipation.

Additional Considerations

If you have blood in your stool, rectal pain, unintentional weight loss or extreme stomach pain, these can be signs of a serious medical problem, and you should seek medical attention as soon as possible. Similarly, overdosing on either calcium or vitamin D can be harmful to your health as well. Talk to your doctor if you experience constipation or any of the symptoms associated with ingesting too many supplements.

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