Q:Dear Dr. Si, My Mom was recently started on a medicine for osteoporosis called Reclast®. The doctor also prescribed calcium but Mom can’t swallow those big calcium pills. Will the calcium that she gets in her normal diet be sufficient so she doesn’t have to fuss with those pills? – SW, Portland, OR
Reclast® belongs to a class of medicines for osteoporosis that strengthen bones by increasing bone mineral density. It is very important that persons receiving this type of medication also take adequate amounts of calcium (the bones need calcium in order to stay strong) and vitamin D (which helps the body absorb calcium into the system) in order for the osteoporosis medication to have the most beneficial impact. The problem that your Mom is having taking the big calcium tablets is common – my Mom had the same problem as do many people. The simple solution for my Mom, and maybe for yours, was a candy-like product called Viactiv Calcium®. It comes in different flavors, is about the size of a bouillon cube, is soft enough to chew, tastes like candy and is available at pharmacies for purchase without a prescription. Each piece contains 500 mg. of calcium and 500 units of vitamin D. Studies have demonstrated that many people, even those who eat a good diet, don’t get sufficient amounts of these important substances (at least 1,200 mg. of calcium and 400 units of vitamin D daily are currently recommended) so one or two pieces of Viactiv Calcium® every day should be sufficient. Check with Mom’s doctor to see how much she should take and if there is any reason why she shouldn’t be taking these supplements (that would be an extremely rare situation). This product could be a good solution to your Mom’s problem taking the big calcium pills.