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Chewable calcium carbonate tablets

Patient information A-Z


The following are examples of brand names of chewable calcium carbonate tablets:

  • Calcichew®
  • Adcal®

What are chewable calcium carbonate tablets and what do they do?

Chewable calcium carbonate tablets belong to a group of medicines known as phosphate binders.

Normally your kidneys can control the level of most of the substances in the blood. However, when the kidneys are not working well, phosphates can build up in the blood and can cause problems. When phosphate builds up in the blood it can combine with calcium in the blood and this mixture can cause damage by being deposited on the blood vessel walls. It can also cause itchiness and affect the strength of the bones and joints.

To control your phosphate levels you will be given advice on how to lower your phosphate intake by adjusting your diet, but phosphate binders are often prescribed in addition to this.

Chewable calcium carbonate tablets prevent the absorption of phosphates into the bloodstream as they bind to the phosphate in your food. This combination is then passed out in your stools.

Why am I prescribed chewable calcium carbonate tablets?

Chewable calcium carbonate tablets have been prescribed for you to take as the phosphate level in your blood is high and chewable calcium carbonate tablets may help to lower this in addition to a low phosphate diet.

How do I take my chewable calcium carbonate tablets?

  • These tablets are best taken about 10 minutes before meals. They should be chewed or allowed to dissolve in the mouth.
  • Phosphate binders only work if taken with foods containing phosphate.
  • They should be taken with all meals.
  • Your doctor, dietitian or specialist nurse will advise you how may tablets to take with each meal.

Do I need to have any tests or be monitored because I am taking chewable calcium carbonate tablets?

The levels of phosphate in your blood will be monitored regularly by either your GP or the hospital staff.

Chewable calcium carbonate tablets can cause the level of calcium in your blood to rise and so your doctor will also check your blood calcium level regularly.

Are there any side effects?

The most common side effects with these tablets are constipation or diarrhoea and feeling sick. They can also leave a chalky taste in the mouth shortly after taking them.

These side effects should be mild but if you have any concerns about these or any other side effects please contact your doctor or specialist nurse for advice.

Are there any problems taking chewable calcium carbonate with any other medications?

Phosphate binders should not be taken at the same time as iron tablets, or some antibiotics, as neither tablets will work properly. Take phosphate binders before a meal and iron tablets one hour after the meal. If you are prescribed any antibiotics, discuss with either your doctor or pharmacist when these should be taken.

Only take tablets prescribed for you by your doctor and check with your pharmacist before taking any new medicines.

Further information

Further information about your tablet can be found in the patient information leaflet found in the tablet/capsule box or on the container.

If you have any other questions about your medication, please contact the medicines helpline on 01223 217502.

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Other formats

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Cambridge University Hospitals
NHS Foundation Trust
Hills Road, Cambridge

Telephone +44 (0)1223 245151