Meds and you

27 September 2013


Calcitriol is a form of Vitamin D. Vitamin D assists in the uptake of calcium from the small intestine and also in the deposition of calcium in the bones.


Calcitriol is the active ingredient of Rocaltrol caps (Nappi code: 761249-001).

General information

Calcitriol is a form of Vitamin D. Vitamin D assists in the uptake of calcium from the small intestine and also in the deposition of calcium in the bones.

In South Africa calcitriol is indicated in patients with postmenopausal osteoporosis, rickets (a disorder of early childhood caused by a deficiency of vitamin D, which can cause soft bones), renal osteodystrophy (a bone disease that occurs when the kidneys fail to maintain the proper levels of calcium in the body), and osteomalacia (abnormal softening of bones caused by deficiencies of phosphorus, or calcium, or vitamin D).

For this medication to be effective, it has to be taken regularly, even if you do not notice an immediate effect.

It is advised that you take a calcium supplement when taking calcitriol.

How does calcitriol work?

Calcitriol promotes intestinal absorption and renal re-sorption of calcium.

Fast facts

Drug schedule: schedule 4

Available as: calcitriol is available as capsules.

What does it do? Calcitriol increases calcium absorption in the body.

Overdose risk: medium

Dependence risk: low

Is calcitriol available as a generic? no

Is calcitriol available on prescription only? yes

User information

Onset of effect: within 6 hours

Duration of action: up to 3 days

Dietary advice: a diet rich in calcium is advised.

Stopping this medicine: do not stop taking this drug without consulting your doctor.

Prolonged use: blood calcium levels, as well as kidney function, should be monitored frequently.

Special precautions

Consult your doctor before using this drug if:

  • you have high levels of calcium in your blood
  • you have a kidney disease
  • you are taking any other vitamin D supplement

Pregnancy: avoid. Potential risk to the foetus has been reported. Consult your doctor before use, or if you are planning to fall pregnant.

Breastfeeding: avoid. This medication is passed through breast milk and may affect your baby adversely. Consult your doctor before use.

Porphyria: this medication is safe for use.

Possible side effects

Side effects Frequency
Consult your doctor

Common Rare Only if severe In all cases
x x
appetite loss
x x
dry mouth
x x
x x


Drug interactions

cholestyramine may decrease calcitriol absorption. Take at least 2 hours apart
antacids may cause high levels of magnisium in blood
thiazides and related diuretics increased risk of calcitriol side-effects
ketoconazole reduced effects of calcitriol
colestipol reduced effects of calcitriol

Overdose action

A small overdose is no cause for concern. In case of intentional large overdose, seek emergency medical attention.

Recommended dosage

Adults, oral: iInitial: 0.25 mcg/d


This material is not intended to substitute medical advice, but is for informational purposes only.

Please consult a physician for specific treatment and recommendations.


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