Taking calcium is important after parathyroid surgery
All parathyroid patients are started on calcium pills right after surgery, decreasing to 2 pills per day for at least 6 months so we can put some calcium back into your bones. If you have decreased calcium in your bones (osteopenia or osteoporosis), then you probably need to be on calcium for years. Your body will put calcium back into your bones (reverse some or most of the osteoporosis) over several years. Remember, the parathyroid tumor was taking calcium out of your bones for years, so it is going to take years to put it back.
If you are a post-menopausal female that has osteopenia or osteoporosis then you are probably going to be on supplemental calcium pills for the rest of your life. Your bones will typically be worse than your peers because of the parathyroid tumor that has been taking calcium out of your bones for years.
How long do you take calcium?
It depends on if you are a man or a woman (women longer). It depends on if you are post-menopausal (almost all post-menopausal women should take calcium every day for life, and this is especially true for those that had a parathyroid problem). It depends on if you have osteoporosis (if you do, then you stay on calcium for years, if not for life). Remember, you aren’t taking calcium for years because you have a parathyroid problem–because you don’t–we fixed that. You take calcium for years for your bones.
The first 2 weeks are for your parathyroids
The first 2 weeks after parathyroid surgery, we put you on high doses of calcium to sustain your calcium levels in the normal range until your NORMAL parathyroid glands wake up. They were asleep for years while you had a parathyroid problem. The calcium you take starting on week 3 and beyond is for your bones… to replenish and repair your bones.
Add a multivitamin for your bones
We recommend a calcium pill that also contains vitamin D. How long you stay on calcium is ultimately up to your primary care doctor and/or endocrinologist, and he/she may ask that you take at least 1,000 mg of calcium per day – this is fine. We also recommend that you also take a good multi-vitamin so you can get magnesium and other minerals needed for good bone health.