So far, scientists believe calcium supplementation may help knee pain indirectly. It can do it by keeping conditions that do cause it – like osteoporosis fractures – under control.
Below, we’ll discuss how calcium relates to knee pain, the side effects of taking it as a supplement, and more. These are the topics we cover, tap on any of them to easily navigate through the article:
- Calcium and knee pain
- Calcium deficiency symptoms
- Calcium excess symptoms
- Risks and side effects
- Other supplements
- Other treatments
Calcium supplementation and knee pain
Calcium supplementation in itself is not an effective pain management strategy. At least not for knee joint disease.
This was tested in a 2013 study. There, researchers had a group of postmenopausal women and gave them calcium and vitamin D supplements for 2 years. After that, they had no improvement in joint pain. (1)
They concluded that this happened in part because calcium doesn’t work in the same way as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. These are effective medications for managing knee pain. (1)
Yet, calcium may help knee pain indirectly by promoting joint health.
More specifically, by treating osteoporosis. This is a condition where the bone mineral density is low. The bones get weak and are extremely prone to fracture as a result.
Apart from the severe pain, osteoporosis-related fractures are quite hard to heal. This is because the bone is already weak, so the quality of the tissue won’t be as good as with a healthy bone.
If the fracture happens on the bones around the knee joint, it can easily lead to chronic pain in that area. But taking calcium supplements can keep your bones healthy, thus preventing future fractures. (3)
Our body needs to maintain its calcium levels within a specific range. Otherwise, it won’t function properly and our risk of health issues increases.
Lack of healthy levels of calcium can occur in the following situations:
- Diet lacks adequate calcium sources.
- Intestinal disorders that disrupt calcium absorption.
- Postmenopausal hormonal changes.
Vitamin D deficiency is another cause of lack of calcium.
This is because this vitamin is crucial for maintaining calcium levels within normal ranges. So, a low vitamin D intake may drop the levels of this mineral, causing deficiency symptoms.
The symptoms of calcium deficiency include:
- Muscle spasms and cramps.
- Tingling sensation around the lips.
- Numbness in the hands and feet.
- Increased risk of fractures.
- Mood disorders.
- Hallucinations. (2)
Excess calcium levels
- Kidney diseases.
- Granulomatous disorders, like sarcoidosis.
- Multiple myeloma.
- Paget’s disease.
Elevated calcium levels always require a full health check, as it can be a sign of something more serious going on.
The symptoms of high calcium levels include:
- Knee joint and muscle aches.
- Stomach aches.
- Kidney stones.
- Mood disorders.
- Bone pain.
- Increased urinary frequency. (4)
Best dose of calcium supplements
The daily recommended dose for adults is 1000mg daily. To date, there’s no specific amount for managing knee pain.
But, studies suggest that taking 500 to 1200 mg of calcium supplements per day can help prevent osteoporosis-related fractures. (2)
Note: If you’re a healthy adult, you may not need to supplement with calcium. A healthy diet may be enough to get what your body needs.
Natural sources of calcium
Calcium can be derived naturally from many food sources, such as (2):
- Milk, cheese, and other dairy foods.
- Dark leafy greens and vegetables such as okra, kale, and spinach.
- Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, and arugula.
- Calcium-fortified foods.
- Almond milk.
Are calcium supplements safe?
If taken within the recommended dosage, calcium supplements are quite safe.
But, some side effects may occur, mostly for people new to the supplement. They subside quickly, though. The most common include (2):
- Bloating and gas.
- Stomach aches.
Other supplements for knee pain
If you want to take supplements specifically for reducing joint pain, there are much better options than calcium, such as:
However, please consult with your doctor first before taking them if you have other medical conditions, like rheumatoid arthritis. Some of these supplements may interact with specific medications.
This will help: Best supplements for knee pain.
Other treatments for knee pain
The truth is that supplements are just one part of the puzzle. There are other things to do to prevent knee injury, keep healthy joints, and manage pain. These include:
- Strengthening your knees.
- Doing home treatments.
- Take medications for knee pain.
- Going to physical therapy.
Can calcium supplements cause joint pain?
Only at extremely high doses, or in people with diseases that disrupt calcium absorption. (4)
Do calcium supplements help knee pain?
No. But they can help prevent osteoporosis, a condition that makes you prone to knee pain due to an increased risk of fracture.
Are calcium and vitamin D good for knee arthritis?
No, it doesn’t relieve pain or swelling. (1)
Conclusion: Can calcium supplements provide relief from knee pain?
Calcium is an essential mineral for bone, joint, and immune system health.
Supplementing with it may not provide knee pain relief. But it can avoid further worsening of conditions that do cause it, like osteoporosis.
- Chlebowski, Rowan T., et al. “Calcium plus vitamin D supplementation and joint symptoms in postmenopausal women in the women’s health initiative randomized trial.” Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics 113.10 (2013): 1302-1310.
- Calcium health professional fact sheet. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Calcium-HealthProfessional/
- Harvey, Nicholas C., et al. “The role of calcium supplementation in healthy musculoskeletal ageing.” Osteoporosis international 28.2 (2017): 447-462.
- Sadiq, Nazia M., Srividya Naganathan, and Madhu Badireddy. “Hypercalcemia.” StatPearls [Internet] (2020).