TALK TO YOUR DOCTOR ABOUT TAKING CALCIUM AND VITAMIN D SUPPLEMENTS

Bone-targeting medicines may cause low blood calcium that could be fatal. When calcium levels are lower than normal in the bloodstream, it is called hypocalcemia (pronounced hahy•poh•kal•SEE•mee•uh).1 To help prevent hypocalcemia, your doctor may recommend calcium and vitamin D supplements while you are taking a bone-targeting medicine.2

BE SURE TO DISCUSS CALCIUM SUPPLEMENTS WITH YOUR DOCTOR BEFORE YOU DECIDE WHAT TO TAKE

Different types of calcium supplements are available3:

  • Calcium carbonate should be taken with a meal for better absorption
  • Calcium citrate can be taken with or without a meal

Both kinds of calcium supplements are available at drug stores, so be sure to check the bottle label or ask your doctor or pharmacist which type is right for you.

Talk to your doctor about calcium and vitamin D supplements. Always take supplements as recommended by your doctor.

HOW DO SOME BONE-TARGETING MEDICINES CAUSE HYPOCALCEMIA?

NORMAL CALCIUM LEVELS Some cells in your body remove old bone while other cells rebuild new bone. Normal bone breakdown releases calcium into the bloodstream. This ongoing process is part of what keeps your bones strong.3
HYPOCALCEMIA Some bone-targeting medicines slow the breakdown of bone. This may cause less calcium to be released into the bloodstream. In some people, the blood calcium levels fall below normal, which results in hypocalcemia (low blood calcium)1,4,5

WHAT SHOULD YOU DO IF YOU HAVE HYPOCALCEMIA?

The symptoms of hypocalcemia may include muscle spasms, twitches, and cramps. Numbness around your mouth or in your fingers or toes may also be associated with a decreased level of calcium in your blood.5 You should call your doctor if you experience any of these symptoms related to hypocalcemia.

REFERENCES:
  1. MedlinePlus Merriam Webster. Hypocalcemia. http://c.merriam-webster.com/medlineplus/hypocalcemia. Accessed April 18, 2016.
  2. American Cancer Society. Bone metastasis. American Cancer Society website. http://www.cancer.org/acs/groups/cid/documents/webcontent/003087-pdf.pdf. Revised February 17, 2014. Accessed May 5, 2015.
  3. Calcium: dietary supplement fact sheet. Office of Dietary Supplements website. http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Calcium-HealthcareProfessional. Updated February 11, 2016. Accessed April 18, 2016.
  4. Roodman GD. Mechanisms of bone metastasis. N Engl J Med. 2004;350:1655-1664.
  5. Skugor M. Hypocalcemia. Cleveland Clinic Center for Continuing Education website. http://www.clevelandclinicmeded.com/medicalpubs/diseasemanagement/endrocrinology/hypocalcemia. Published May 2014. Accessed April 18, 2016.