Purpose: It is commonly suggested that calcium supplementation contributes to constipation; however, little research has explored the effects of calcium supplementation on gut motility.
Methods: In an 8-week, randomized, double-blind, crossover pilot study, healthy females (n = 27, aged 43.0 ± 10.6 years) received a split dose of 500 mg/d of elemental calcium from calcium carbonate or calcium phosphate each for 2 weeks, after a 2-week baseline and separated by a 2-week washout. Participants completed daily questionnaires of stool frequency, Bristol Stool Form Scale (BSFS), and supplement intake compliance.
Results: There were no differences among periods. Mean ± SE stool frequency averaged 1.3 ± 0.1 stools/d in each period. Participants reported 34%, 34%, 37%, and 29% of stools were indicative of slow transit or constipation (BSFS of 1 or 2) during baseline, calcium carbonate, calcium phosphate, and washout periods, respectively. Participants also reported from 6% to 10% of stools as fast transit or diarrhea (BSFS of 6 or 7) during the periods.
Conclusion: This study suggests that neither calcium carbonate nor calcium phosphate, providing 500 mg/d of calcium, affects stool frequency or form. Although stool frequency was normal, the healthy females participating in the study experienced stools indicating slow (constipation) and fast (diarrhea) transit.