Peter Hibberd, M.D., is a doctor whose advice is based on more than 28 years of hospital outpatient and inpatient experience. He is an experienced emergency medicine physician, surgeon, and consultant. Dr. Hibberd is certified by the American Board of Emergency Medicine. He is also a fellow and active member of the American Academy of Family Physicians, an active member of the American College of Emergency Physicians, and a member and fellow of the American Academy of Emergency Medicine. Dr. Hibberd has earned numerous national and international professional certifications, memberships, and awards.

Am I Getting Enough Calcium?

Wednesday, 30 June 2010 09:46 AM

Question: I take a calcium channel blocker for my high blood pressure, and Evista for bone health. Does the calcium channel blocker prevent my body from absorbing the calcium from the food I eat, or the calcium pills I take every day? I have taken Actonel and Fosamax in the past but developed reflux problems with both of them, so my doctor prescribed Evista.

Dr. Hibberd's Answer:

Calcium channel blockers relax vascular smooth muscle and block calcium channels at the cellular level within these areas. They have no effect on absorption from your gastrointestinal tract. Adequate dietary calcium is actually necessary for these drugs to work properly. Always take your vitamins and calcium with food, but do not take them with your prescription medications. Calcium supplements (and for that matter, vitamin pills in general) bind many prescription medications if taken simultaneously and can reduce the effective dose of medication available for absorption. Reduced absorption, of course, translates to less drug available for use by your body as well as a waste of your money.

Calcium blockers are known to relax the gastroesophagel sphincter responsible for preventing reflux of gastic contents into the esophagus, and are usually avoided by those patients who have reflux symptoms. Ask your doctor about other choices available for controlling your blood pressure that will not aggravate reflux. In my opinion, Actonel and Fosamax are preferable to treat osteoporosis. Evista may have FDA approval, but troubling studies show it causes cancer in animals. Although this does not necessarily translate to humans, I generally try to avoid drugs shown to cause cancer, especially when it is used for preventive purposes.

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