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Ask Tufts Experts March 2012 Issue

Q: How important is it to get calcium periodically throughout the day, rather than in one or two large amounts? Can the body only absorb a limited amount at once?

Answer :  Bess Dawson-Hughes, MD, director of Tufts’ HNRCA Bone Metabolism Laboratory, responds: “You’re right that more calcium is absorbed when calcium is taken in smaller amounts more frequently than when taken in larger amounts less frequently. When the amount exceeds 500 to 600 milligrams, absorption drops off even more dramatically. A practical approach for those who need more that 600 milligrams of supplementary calcium per day to reach their requirement is to split the dose.”

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