Is calcium supplementation always needed in patients with hypoparathyroidism?

Clin Endocrinol (Oxf). 2019 Jun;90(6):775-780. doi: 10.1111/cen.13955. Epub 2019 Mar 19.


Oral calcium salts are recommended for the treatment of chronic hypoparathyroidism (HypoPT), although dosimetry is variable between individual patients and clinicians. However, patient feedback on calcium salts can be negative, particularly due to gastrointestinal side effects and hypercalciuria-related complications. We begin with a clinical case of a HypoPT patient taking oral calcium salts following thyroid surgery, who requested support in reducing her dose of these with a view to stopping entirely. To evaluate her request, we first describe the usual treatment of HypoPT according to current guidance and then present data from (a) a case note review of a cohort of 24 HypoPT patients managed with a "no calcium" treatment regimen by single physician (b) a comprehensive online survey of HypoPT patients' treatment and experiences (n = 330). The case note review found that target range serum calcium levels were successfully achieved in all 24 patients since transitioning to a "no calcium" regimen, without any breakthrough hypocalcaemia-related symptoms, the development of new renal stones, the occurrence of calcium-related hospital admissions or the finding of significant hypercalciuria. The online survey identified 36% of HypoPT patients who continued to take activated vitamin D, but had discontinued calcium supplements. HypoPT patients not currently taking calcium reported a significantly lower prevalence of adverse effects and outcomes, both compared with their previous experiences whilst taking calcium and also compared with the 64% of patients who continued to take oral calcium. We conclude that, subject to methodological limitations, there are significant issues of tolerability arising from conventional calcium-based treatment regimens for patients with chronic HypoPT. For selected patients, it may be reasonable to facilitate a managed therapeutic transition to "no calcium" regimen, and we also propose that calcium-based regimes be prospectively evaluated against calcium-free (or calcium-low) alternatives.

Keywords: Calcium; Hypoparathyroidism; dyspepsia; hospitalization; patient survey; vitamin D.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Calcium, Dietary / adverse effects*
  • Calcium, Dietary / therapeutic use*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Dietary Supplements*
  • Female
  • Graves Disease / complications
  • Graves Disease / surgery
  • Humans
  • Hypercalciuria
  • Hypocalcemia / complications
  • Hypoparathyroidism / drug therapy*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Postoperative Complications
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United Kingdom
  • Vitamin D / pharmacology


  • Calcium, Dietary
  • Vitamin D