IBS Tales Home > Treatment Reviews > IBS Supplements > Caltrate Plus
based on 15 reviews
Caltrate Plus is a calcium dietary supplement. As well as calcium carbonate it contains vitamin D to help increase calcium absorption, magnesium to help maintain strong bones, zinc and copper manganese for skeletal development and boron to help the body use the calcium.
Caltrate Plus tablets are typically used by diarrhea-predominant IBS sufferers. If you are constipation-predominant then magnesium would be more appropriate. If you live in a country where Caltrate Plus is not available then you should still be able to buy a simple calcium supplement containing calcium carbonate, often with vitamin D included, which should work in a similar way to the Caltrate Plus product.
Caltrate Plus has been used by a number of IBS sufferers to control their diarrhea, and has become quite famous within the online IBS community for its capacity to reduce diarrhea. In particular, when Lotronex was temporarily withdrawn from the US market, Caltrate Plus was often cited on IBS messageboards as a good substitute.
Caltrate Plus side effects
The most common side effects of Caltrate Plus are gas, incomplete bowel movements, constipation, nausea and stomach pain.
REVIEWS OF CALTRATE PLUS
Review by Janet
I was diagnosed with IBS two years ago. The symptoms started right after menopause. The doctors were not much help so I realized I would have to take matters into my own hands. My main problem was diarrhea soon after lunch once or twice a day. I never had it any other time of the day. I experimented with many vitamins, herbs, minerals and diet changes and somehow after two years I stumbled upon the magic formula that has helped get me back to about 95% normal.
Each morning I take one tablespoon of lecithin granules on my cereal, along with one slippery elm capsule 400mg and one Caltrate (purple box) tablet. If I leave out any one of these three ingredients I will go right back to having problems. If other people want to try this they may need to take this with lunch also, but for me once a day is sufficient.
Review by Joellen
Seven years ago, just before my mother passed away, I was dealing with so much stress in my life. My mother was in the hospital one hour away, I was working full time, my husband was away on business for most of that time and I had three children at home. I would travel to the hospital every day and started noticing that I would have to stop on my way almost every day with diarrhea.
It gradually got worse. After a few weeks I found it hard to leave the house. I am a substitute teacher so leaving the classroom to use the bathroom was out of the question. I had taken so many prescriptions that did not work. A friend of mine had moved to Japan and also had IBS. She told me that her doctor over there told her to take a lot of calcium.
I now take a lot of calcium, and Imodium AD only when I go to work. It works like a dream. I have to stay away from cereal and I have to wear short sleeves all year round so that I don't get over-heated. I can only take two a day. If I take three, within two days of taking the three I have massive diarrhea and I can't go anywhere.
I am able to maintain a somewhat normal lifestyle. I have a very understanding family and I know what I have to do to live a normal life, but it took me about three years to find this out. IBS is a terrible disease that should never be taken for granted by anyone.
Review by Angie
I have had IBS-D on and off for several years. I was on Levsin but it stopped working properly and also made me dizzy. I went online and saw that a lot of IBS-D sufferers recommend calcium and vitamin D. I tried it and within a few days - no more diarrhea! I take half a Caltrate tablet with every meal. I take peppermint tablets about an hour before I eat, and I also use Benefiber mixed in water or juice between meals. All have been helpful, but it wasn't until I started on the Caltrate that I got rid of the diarrhea and the painful symptoms that accompany it. Anyone who has IBS-D, give the calcium a try!
Review by Anita
I just finished my first full bottle of Caltrate 600 Plus Minerals and Vitamin D (in a purple box). I too have made what seems like a zillion trips to the bathroom with IBS-D since 1976. About a month ago I was surfing the web and found this very informative website. I read for hours and made up my mind I was a candidate for calcium and the very next morning I went out and bought a bottle of Caltrate. I took half a tablet after breakfast that morning, half a tablet after lunch and by 1pm I could actually feel results. I had another half a tablet after dinner. No more big D!
I only have one complaint...even half the tablet is too big! I can't find the soft chews in the purple package, which is the type I believe should be taken not the pink. Does anyone take the pink? Let me know if it does or doesn't matter.
A zillion times thank you for your great information. I can go on car trips and long flights and not feel a bit worried. I haven't had an Imodium in over a month now! Sorry Imodium! (Not!) Don't be afraid to try it. I even forgot about the first few days of bloating, which went away with the Big D!
Review by Ken
I tried Caltrate for my IBS-D because I have to use the bathroom three to five times in the morning before I even have my first meal. I continue to have loose stools all day. I tried the Caltrate for about five days or so with no effect. I would have tried it for longer, but I wasn't seeing any difference at all. I tried both twice a day and three times a day.
Review by Jack
As a long-term acute sufferer from IBS-D I spent years searching for the right remedy, and many thousands of pounds on conventional, complementary, and sometimes quack medicine. Then a very progressive doctor at my surgery took a serious interest in my plight and together we found the right scientific answer that manages my symptoms perfectly and returned me to a completely normal life.
Over the years I've had multiple colonoscopy investigations, stool tests, blood tests, clinical hypnotism, hydrogen and lactose intolerance breath tests and even an amazing 3-D MRI scan of my entire intestinal tract. I've seen the top NHS and private medical specialists in the land, and paralleled this with the very best in complementary medicine. Guess what? My digestive system is in perfect shape, and I always ended up being the healthiest patient in the doctor's surgery.
My problem is that I have a very common condition called acute peristalsis - or intestinal hurry, which in simple terms means that the rhythm of my gut is much of the time working in overdrive. This has nothing to do with what I eat or drink; it's just an unlucky fact of life which triggered many years ago due to a simple bout of food poisoning. Medicine is still searching for that elusive complete cure to all things IBS, but in the meantime I was forced to continue my journey towards finding the elixir of life that would somehow slow my gut to normal, and finally arrest the constant problem of diarrhea and urgency.
The answer came through the generous help and understanding of my doctor - and here's the medicinal regime we eventually arrived at, which has completely and permanently normalized me after twenty years of IBS. With breakfast, I take two 2mg loperamide tabs (Imodium), one 15mg codeine phosphate tab, and one 600mg calcium tab (this must be magnesium free).
With lunch, I take another 600mg calcium tab, and another 15mg codeine phosphate tab. Before bed I take one 75mg dosulepin tab (which is great for a good night's sleep too) and two ProVen probiotic tabs. Most of this is prescription medicine and prescribed by my doctor. However, calcium is available over the counter, and calcium 600 plus D from Holland and Barrett is my personal choice. Dosulepin is a tricyclic anti-depressant.
None of the above has created any long-term side effects other than the one that I obviously want, and the dosages are certainly well tolerated by me. One thing I've learned is to give my body plenty of time to respond to a particular medication - it doesn't just happen in a couple of days! For me, finding the correct balance of medication took about three months, but when it did kick in the rewards were sheer heaven.
Review by Ernie
I have IBS-D with lots of pains, bloating and severe flatulence. The first week on Caltrate Plus I had some more flatulence than normal, but that problem was over within a week (that is, my flatulence was back to normal levels). I was taking two tablets a day the first week (1200mg/day). I waited until day 10, but I was still pretty much the same as before I started taking Caltrate Plus. So I raised the dose to 1800mg/day. Still nothing happened.
Finally I went up to the maximum dose (2400mg/day) and stayed on this for a while. But it still didn't have any impact on my IBS. The reason I give it two stars and not just one is that a) Caltrate Plus was rather cheap and b) Caltrate Plus didn't make me a lot worse (unlike Heather's acacia fiber and peppermint oil capsules).
Review by Danielle
I am 24 years old, and I have suffered from IBS for seven years. My IBS swings back and forth from diarrhea to constipation, so it has been a struggle to find a steady treatment solution. After trying multiple medications, I take Lomotil as needed, and I have been told that I will just have to live with it and it should eventually settle down. Pretty easy for a doctor to say!
I found this site and saw the mention of trying Caltrate Plus. Within a week of taking one pill per day, I had greatly improved. I am still a little amazed by how much better I have been, and it has been about three months now. I went from taking about four Lomotil per week to taking one, if any.
Of course it has not cured me, but it makes life more manageable without the constant panic attacks of having to run to the bathroom. I continue to take one fiber pill per day as well, along with watching my diet to cut out as much fat as possible. Caltrate has done great things for me and is definitely worth a try for others!
Review by Kathy
I have been an IBS sufferer for the past 30 years. I have been on Lotronex for the past two and a half years after nothing else helped. I had every test known to man done and was scoped from one end to the other. The Lotronex helped the diarrhea, but I still suffered from bloating, pain and various other problems.
Then I read about the use of calcium. I tried 600mg, with no success. I then decided to up it to 1200mg. It truly is nothing short of a miracle! I have had no symptoms since I started the calcium. I have discontinued the use of Lotronex completely and I am better than I ever was while on it. I have switched to 1200mg of calcium plus vitamin D, as I was recently diagnosed with osteoporosis in the femur and figured that it sure wouldn't hurt.
Review by Claire
I would like to thank Amanda (see the next review) for reminding me that although I live in the UK, I can still get some form of Caltrate Plus. I ordered a calcium and vitamin D supplement, and have started on two per day (800mg) to see how my body will react to suddenly being flooded with calcium (I had to quit dairy).
I am on my fifth day and I have already noticed improvements with mainly urgency issues! I can hold a BM! Hallelujah! Just like Amanda, I suffered frequent horrid urges of the loose and mucusy BM kind. My stools are changing to be more solid (but still very soft). I am going to have to watch myself however, as I suffer from alternating IBS and do not want to be constipated.
I am suffering from bloating and excess wind, but I thought that that might happen. Hopefully that will pass as my body adjusts to the calcium levels. Whether I can go or not, I never feel complete so I don't think the calcium will change that. It's just nice to know that, hang on, no I can and will hold it. Remember as my hypnotherapist told me: you control your body, and not the other way around. I always needed to go after breakfast (even if I ate hardly anything), and now, I can wait. Let's hope it just gets better, as I try out dosage levels...
Review by Amanda
For those of you in the UK who unable to get the much-famed Caltrate range, suffering from diarrhea- predominant IBS, I can highly recommend just your bog-standard calcium supplement. After suffering for years since my early teens, and a recent and distinct worsening of symptoms, including a very bad spate where I was prescribed medication for the first time after just coping for years, I decided to try a calcium supplement as recommended by online IBS communities.
I went to my local health food shop and got hold of High Strength Calcium Carbonate plus Vitamin D (essential for calcium absorption) tablets. This was essential anyway as I have found exclusion of dairy to be beneficial for me, and plan to continue this. Though not a sufferer of constant water-like diarrhea, a typical day saw symptoms of excess gas, abdominal pains (sometimes very intense), urgent, frequent and very loose bowel movements, and of course all the misery that goes along with this unpredictable and embarrassing condition.
I have had what I consider normal bowel activity daily since I began taking the calcium, for the first time in at least two years. At first I suffered bloating, gas and some pain due to its constipating effects (the whole point), but these wore off as my body got used to it.
The Holland and Barrett supplement contains microcrystalline cellulose, a bulking agent present in the product Fybogel Mebeverine (UK), which may also account for the new normality of the stools. I have much less abdominal pain (especially the cramping and spasms associated with diarrhea bouts) and bathroom visits are less frequent and regular, but I still put up with some mild gas and bloating.
I take 300mg three times a day (once per meal - be consistent), choosing my own dose, but not overdosing on either calcium or the vitamin D. I combine this with daily high-dose probiotics, drinking a lot of fluids to keep me regular, and avoidance of foods and drinks that I recognize set my system off. It's a must-try, and will hopefully give you the gift of normality, as it has me.
Review by Trevor
I have celiac disease, IBS and osteopenia. As a result of the osteopenia, my doctor prescribed Caltrate for me. I discovered that the IBS symptoms improved greatly with this. The osteopenia has stopped developing after two years and has improved only marginally.
Review by Mark
I have suffered for two years from IBS with diarrhea. It has dominated my life to the extent where not only did I physically deteriorate, but emotionally I was a mess. It was not uncommon to spend at least a night once a week in a nervous breakdown crying and wanting comfort.
I don't know why I decided to start taking Caltrate, I guess it was because I thought I had nothing to lose. I am glad I did though. This is not a miracle drug, in fact it's something we all need healthy or not. It has not cured me. But it does help me control my symptoms in a non-aggressive way, and continue living my life, if not at 90% normal then 75%. That's pretty decent statistics folks.
If you suffer from IBS-D please do yourself a favor and give it a try. I still can't eat like I used to, in fact if I abuse my diet and get an attack they are even more painful than before. But if I am conscious about the way I eat and live my life I can almost avoid problems altogether. I hope my review has been objective and helps someone.
Note: during the first few days (about one week in fact) you will probably have horrible, horrible gas pains which will have you begging to stop. Don't give up though. After this period relative to your body's ability to adapt to the calcium, it will all but completely disappear. As of two months of taking Caltrate Plus I am taking one and a half pills a day.
Review by Cathy
I am a lifelong sufferer of IBS, spastic colon, nervous stomach...different doctors, different diagnosis. Even as far back as elementary school, I can remember always having to go the bathroom sick. At girl scout camp, no-one ever wanted to be my buddy as buddies escorted each other to the bathroom in the middle of the night and I was always there.
I am now 38 and my problem of having diarrhea five to six days a week was making my life difficult. I have also recently (last three years) had issues with anxiety and truly think my anxiety problems were from the stomach. I did not want to travel, go very far from home, leave work for lunch, be away from a bathroom. I was turning down invitations to go places that involved eating.
It was not uncommon for me to have to go to the bathroom 10+ times a day. I had a flat stomach and people always told me how thin I was, but if they only knew why. I lived on Imodium AD. I had a doctor prescribe Lotronex and I had to sign my life away. After getting home and reading the fine print, my husband and I decided that it was not for me.
I was cruising websites to see what people were saying about IBS and ran across a chat room where people were talking about Caltrate and I decided to give it a try. It has changed my life! I have been taking one Caltrate tablet a night for four months now and am sick only one to two days a month if that. It is amazing.
I am finding that it's changed my outlook on life. I am not afraid to go on a trip now when I have to be in a car or plane for a while. I can get up early and go places (worrying about whether I'd get sick or not used to make early morning travel impossible for me). I am spreading the word to everyone I know.
I have noticed one (and possibly two...but not confirmed) side effects. In four months I've gained about four pounds. My theory is that I'm eating the same amount of food, but it's staying in me now. I have some issues with the weight gain (former college bulimic athlete), but am mature enough now to know that I am so much better off being a little heavier and not malnourished like before.
Secondly, I am in the process of passing a kidney stone. Since it hasn't passed, I am not sure of its makeup but know that calcium is common. I wonder if the Caltrate is the cause. I have a poor diet and didn't receive much calcium before the Caltrate. Again...the difference in my life will be worth kidney stones. I can't begin to tell you how much better I feel. Just wanted to share. It was an easy, quick fix and I figure I can use the calcium.
Review by Linda
What has helped me for more than two years with almost daily attacks of diarrhea is calcium in the form of Caltrate Plus. Calcium is known to be constipating so if you suffer from constipation-type IBS do not take it. Here is the what and how to take the calcium information if you suffer from diarrhea.
Calcium is an over the counter supplement we all do not usually get enough of. No prescription needed to purchase this. When you take calcium about 40 per cent of the dose gets to the bones, the rest is eliminated in our waste. The calcium goes to the intestines and soaks up excess fluids and binds them together and they are gotten rid of in our waste.
This is a process that can be continued by taking the calcium carbonate on a regular basis thus giving a more formed bowel movement. There is calcium carbonate which helps us with diarrhea and there is calcium citrate which is more easily absorbed by the body and gets to the bones.
A lot of the calcium supplements contain a 2 to 1 ratio of calcium to magnesium. Magnesium is not helpful for us with diarrhea only causing more in most cases. So do not purchase this combination. It will only make things worse. The dose to take is different for everyone. I must take three a day one at each meal and it does not make a difference if I take it before, during or after: just take it regularly.
The most success has come from using any formula of calcium supplement that is like Caltrate 600 Plus with Vitamin D and Minerals, in the purple and white box. I hope this will help anyone wishing to try it. There are other things to consider. If you take any other meds check the side effects and also check with the pharmacist to see if taking calcium will interfere with your other medications and how you might take them. The only side effect is at the beginning of taking the calcium you may have some gas or indigestion but this usually goes away soon after taking a regular dose for a few days, as your body adjusts to the added calcium.
Starting with 1/2 tablet doses with each meal will lessen this problem and it may be enough to control the diarrhea attacks without making you constipated. Constipation can be a problem so be careful not to take too much.
I had my gallbladder removed in 1976 and from that time on I had suffered urgent attacks of diarrhea. Went through a lot of test but nothing else could be found. I took many of the meds for bowel spasms and cramps over the years but nothing ever seemed to help. I started to take a calcium supplement to help prevent bone loss in later years and from the first day I felt relief. I was pretty much a prisoner to the bathroom or had to go without eating to be able to leave the house. I must take one tablet with each meal and the diarrhea does not come back. If I miss taking it I get diarrhea.
The way it works is the calcium carbonate it a binder and when you take it only about 40 per cent of the calcium gets to the bones and the rest is gotten rid of in our waste. During the process it gets to the intestines and soaks up excess bile and water and helps give a more solid BM. Now that you have no gallbladder the bile fluid goes directly into the intestines and causes irritation and diarrhea. The calcium carbonate soaks this up and no more diarrhea. It works great for a lot of us and you just have to take the calcium regularly and do not miss.
I started with Caltrate 600 and it does seem to make a difference in the ingredients of calcium...This one seems to do the best job for most. You can buy other store brands of calcium with the same ingredients that work just as well but they need to have the same ingredients. I get Member's Mark Brand from Sam's Club you get 300 tablets for 8.99.
You won't be sorry if you try it. I suggest starting with half a tablet with each meal at first this may be enough to control the diarrhea if not in a
few days up the dose to 1 tablet with each meal. The side effect is constipation so if you feel it coming on just cut the dose. It is important to use a calcium that is as much alike as the Caltrate brand. Let me list the ingredients:
- vitamin D 200iu
- calcium 500 or 600mg (this should be calcium carbonate form)
- magnesium 40mg (no more than this amount because magnesium will cause you to have diarrhea but because calcium is constipating the magnesium helps to counteract that effect)
- zinc 7.5mg
- copper 1mg
- manganese 1.8mg
- boron 250 mcg
There are other brands with the same ingredients so get something as close as you can. Then start with half a tablet with each meal and in a few days if this is not enough to control your diarrhea then up the dose to one tablet with each meal. If you feel you are becoming constipated then cut back on the dose.
It has been working since the first day I started taking it July 1998 and as long as I take three a day (this is the amount I must take it may be different for you) I remain diarrhea-free. No cramps, bloating or diarrhea. The dose you take with each meal is not the dose that is helping you at that meal, it is the prior ones that have time to work their way through your system to soak up excess bile and water in the intestines. It also works for those of you who still have the gallbladder. It is worth a try and some Lotronex users are getting some help with the calcium.
Do you suffer from IBS? Have you tried Caltrate Plus? Please contact Sophie to send in your review.