Understanding Calcium: The Best Forms of Calcium Supplements

by Dr. Edward Group DC, NP, DACBN, DCBCN, DABFM Published on , Last Updated on

We have all heard about how important calcium is for maintaining healthy bones, muscles and nerves. We also may be aware of the role calcium plays in inter-cellular communications. But many are unaware that the common American daily diet is not offering enough calcium. Sadly, this calcium that is lacking from our diet is then slowly leeched from the bones, creating a plethora of joint and bone-related diseases such as osteoporosis.

Many people realize that they need more calcium, and make the conscious choice to take calcium supplements, but are still unaware of the different forms of calcium being sold on the market today. Which forms of supplements are actually being absorbed by the body? Which types of calcium actually make their way into penetrating the cellular membrane?

Hopefully this will help you understand the different types of calcium currently on the supplemental market.

8 Common Types of Calcium

1. Calcium Carbonate
A common form of calcium supplement, calcium carbonate is an alkaline-based compound found in rocks, limestone, shells of marine animals, pearls, eggshells and snails. It holds one of the highest concentrations of elemental calcium (35-40%), but is not high in bioavailability and requires the production of extra stomach acid to be absorbed.

Bioavailability refers to the amount of calcium in the supplement that can be assimilated by the digestive system, and ultimately used for cellular activity and health benefits. Calcium Carbonate is currently one of the cheapest and most prevalent forms of calcium supplements sold today. Be sure to avoid this form and check all of your multivitamin / mineral supplement labels.

2. Calcium Citrate
Differing from the alkaline qualities of calcium carbonate, calcium citrate has an acidic base. This acidity requires less production of natural stomach acids, allowing this type of calcium to be better absorbed than the carbonate form. It does, however, have less elemental calcium concentration (20%), and again, low bioavailability.

3. Oyster Shell Calcium
While it may seem like a more natural form of calcium, and thus higher in absorbable content, oyster shell calcium, as well as dolomite and bone meal, are difficult to quality-control and have been found to show levels of lead toxins. In general, these “natural forms” of calcium should be avoided.

4. Calcium Gluconate
A form of of calcium with very low levels of actual calcium concentration. You would need to take very large amounts of the supplement to reach calcium requirements, and the bioavailability is still not certain.

5. Calcium Lactate
The form of calcium found in foods such as aged cheese and baking powder. It has a medium bioavailablity in the body because it can be absorbed at various pHs.

6. Calcium Phosphate
The main form of calcium coming from cow’s milk. Tooth enamel and bones are very high in calcium phosphate, although supplemental forms have not shown to be readily bioavailable.

7. Calcium Citrate Malate
A water-soluble form of calcium. It is created through mixing the calcium salt found in citric acid with malic acid. This combination has higher levels of bioavailability than other forms, as it is water-soluble and does show some evidence of being dissolved into cell membranes. More bioavailable than the other forms listed above.

8. Calcium Orotate
The most effective form of calcium supplement, created through the use of the mineral salts of orotic acid. Calcium orotates are found in small amounts in all living beings. It is a primary mineral for the creation of bones and teeth, and fosters cellular communications. In my experience, this is by far the best calcium supplement to use for supporting calcium levels, and the one product I recommend is IntraCal™.

Both plants and animals use orotates to create DNA and RNA. Extensive scientific research done by by Hans A. Nieper, M.D. has found that orotates can penetrate cell membranes, enabling the effective delivery of the calcium ion to the inner-most layers of the cellular mitochondria and nucleus.

Calcium Orotate supplements have been found to be beneficial in:

  • Preventing osteoporosis
  • Reduction of muscle cramps
  • Reduction in pain associated with spinal problems
  • Maintaining bone health
  • Maintaining teeth health
  • Alleviation of sleep disorders like insomnia
  • Increasing the body’s ability to metabolize iron
  • Overall stress reduction and mental alertness

Calcium orotates contain many properties that can help protect you and your health, while offering your cells the most readily-absorbable form of calcium on the market today.

†Results may vary. Information and statements made are for education purposes and are not intended to replace the advice of your doctor. Global Healing Center does not dispense medical advice, prescribe, or diagnose illness. The views and nutritional advice expressed by Global Healing Center are not intended to be a substitute for conventional medical service. If you have a severe medical condition or health concern, see your physician.

  • Anne Moss

    It’s great that you’re taking the time to educate us about this. I hope that through a balanced diet I’m getting enough of all necessary types of calcium.

  • dooberheim

    There’s actually only one type of calcium that gets absorbed into the body, and that is calcium ion. All of these salts form calcium ions when they dissolve, and in the presence of enough stomach acid, all will completely dissolve. Their transport and bioavailability will then be a function of the calcium ion concentration in the intestine.

    Here’s current knowledge on the mechanisms of calcium absorption:


    The form which the calcium enters the body is less important than the amount.


  • Wózki do sprzątania

    I would to ask that calcium is assimilated as a vitamin C (more of them are expel from organizm anyway) or full of dose stay in organism? We dont need double dose?

  • Masaż Szczecin

    Do those dose of calcium we eat in meal everyday not enough? We need to take more?

  • Greg

    What about calcium aspartate anhydrous that I’ve read has a 92% absorption rate while most others have a 5% – 25%?

  • Thank you for your question. I have submitted this question to Dr. Group to get a comparison for you. It can take a few days but we will send a response as soon as we can.

    Take care and be well!

  • Roman

    Calcium Orotate is definitely the most efficient absorbed calcium. What the article has omitted to tell you is that the elemental calcium in orotates is very low. And when we are talking 800-1000mg elemental daily, you will need to be taking a lot of pills. Therefore, i think the best calcium is in Algae form.

  • Stelios

    Calcium ascorbate is calcium or vit C can someone explain me pls.? i want to supplement calcium and vit C and i found Lamberts has vitC in the form of calcium ascorbate and in the analysis says that has vit C and a small amount of calcium 77mg if I remember correctly. They call it “gentle vit C”… I’m a little confused with that…

  • RY

    What about a reply to the rest of us?

  • Beth

    I’d love to know this as well. I started taking your calcium orotate 3 days ago and all three days I had a headache by the end of the day as well as loss of appetite. I stopped today and took calcium aspartate with none of those symptoms.

  • ghc_health

    There is a promoter of calcium aspartate that is promoting the 92% absorption rate based on information from rat studies. They are doing this for the purpose of marketing hype, not to spread correct information.

    Calcium aspartate is calcium bound to an amino acid. It is an acceptable calcium supplement but not a new magic bullet.

  • keithon

    how many to apply the powder calcium to the plant

  • Liinu

    What about Calcium Ascorbate?
    Is this an organic form?

    I just read this in an article about organic and inorganic forms of calcium (organic being easier for the body to digest and use):
    “A supplemental form of calcium can be delivered in the form of calcium ascorbate, which delivers the essential organic calcium, with the addition of vitamin C.”

    Would be interested to hear your comments on this.
    Thank you for the article.

  • Liinu

    I just found Cytoplan’s Wholefood Calcium, which seems to be from “calcified seaweed”, so appears to be very natural, with lots of minerals like the important magnesium appearing alongside it in the plant.
    Does this sound like a natural seaweed calcium? (or does the “calcified” signify that something has been added..?)
    Thanks guys for the great comments.

  • Jeff2020

    What is better for someone who wants to remineralization teeth? Calcium Orotate or Calcium Hydroxyapatite.I think calcium hydroxyapatite is a more natural food source type of calcium but orotate is better absorbed. What do you suggest?.

  • Hydroxyapatite is from cow bones (probably) and not vegan friendly. For that reason, and the better absorption, I prefer calcium orotate.

  • 4REEE

    Should we avoid the prescription drugs that our doctor’s prescribe like Fosamax or Forteo?

    I heard that Fosamax kills living bone cells! YIKES! Any truth to that?

    Also, there doesn’t seem to be any Vitamin D with the Calcium Orotate product, IntraCal. I thought Vitamin D was more important than Calcium, or at the very least is required for Calcium absorption.

    There is no mention of collagen, Vitamin K, or Boron.

    Intracal has tons of Magnesium too. Am I going to be “hugging” the toilet all day because of this?!

    Then there are studies that say too much Calcium can cause prostate cancer in men. Just what we need in addition to osteoporosis!!!

    And let’s not forget the risk of kidney stones.

    There’s just way too much confusion out here!

  • Whooooooa… take a breath. And don’t stop taking the medication you’ve been prescribed.

  • 4REEE

    Lol. Not to worry, I’ll continue taking my meds.

    What about the questions I had?

  • In order… No. I’m not immediately sure. It is but it’s a separate supplement. Correct- what of them? Not likely. Take enough, not too much.

  • 4REEE

    My bad.

    I wanted to know if we really need collagen, Vitamin K, and Boron for people with osteoporosis who are trying to build up bone.

    Someone at the health food store told me that Calcium is useless without collagen because we’ll just end up with bones that are rigid and will snap!!

    He said that collagen is needed for flexible bone. Before that, I’ve never heard of such a thing.

    Thanks for all your help.

  • Your body needs those nutrients. The impact they’ll have on osteoporosis I can’t speculate, however. You’re touching on a good point and that’s that you have to look at your body as a machine of multiple systems that all work together, and that goes for the nutrition it requires too. There is a huge spectrum of nutrients you need… let’s just say, for a hypothetical example, that calcium is 85% of the equation in supporting bone health. The remaining 15% may be comprised of 10 other nutrients that support the efforts of calcium. That is certainly the case with the thyroid, iodine, and its lesser discussed cohort, selenium. That’s at least one reason why it’s important to have a well balanced diet that provides all those trace nutrients. Or, at least, a solid multivitamin (I prefer IntraMAX) that helps fill the gaps.

  • hugo

    Very surprised that calcium glycerophosphate (Prelief)is not on your list. I am taking this type of calcium to reduce the symptons of IC. However since I am worried about kidney stones, looking for an alternative….

  • It’s my understanding that most of the research surrounding that product has been done by the manufacturer. Have you tried calcium orotate?

  • hugo

    Thank you for your reply.
    Will try Calcium orotate. I would also appreciate your opinion on a cell salt called Calcium Phosphate. Plse note that I take Calcium for treatment of Interstitial Cystitis.

  • It’s my understanding that it’s better than nothing but I’ve seen some reports that it can cause upset stomach or urinary tract irritation. Not for everyone, but something to be aware of.

  • Dr. FloraMason Van Orden

    There’s a book, Biological Transmutation by Dr. Kirvran from France that explains better than any other, why calcium is a supplementation form will never approach a human bone to help make it strong. It will line the myelin sheath of nerves, like in your brain, and help you feel more laid back and peaceful, but the 3 elements potassium, magnesium and silica are the ones which, when eaten in organic foods rich in them, will pick up hydrogen, oxygen and carbon and turn into our bones’ type of calcium. I spoke at the 2nd Annual Calcium Conference at NIH and there were only a few doctors from the U.S. who had ever heard of that; most of the educated doctors were from other countries. There were plenty of calcium supplement salesmen out in the halls trying to manipulate the doctors to put calcium in things like baby food.

  • Dr. FloraMason Van Orden

    Osteoporosis is caused by eating too much protein, not by having a lack of calcium in our diets or supplements. Please research on the internet and save yourselves expensive urine.

  • Dr. Tom

    Would you do us the courtesy of sharing links to this information?

  • Chantal

    I have lactogluconate calcium liquid ….would that be good?

  • Kym

    I am a papillary cancer survivor. I do not have my thyroid or my parathyroid so I have to take six calcium 600 +d pills everyday for the rest of my life… I am now having some liver issues and for the past five years I have just been taking the walmart brand calcium 600+d but I am now worried about my liver so I was wondering what you suggest I should take that is more natural and not so harsh on my liver and kidneys since I have to take this for the rest of my life. I am only 40.

  • John Rains

    What about calcium bisglycinate? My source says it’s the most bioavailable form.

  • DoubtingThomas

    Haven’t heard of this stuff, where did you see that?

  • trevelin

    Have you had your femur spontaneous break yet? My mother on Fosamax has! it was actual in the small print of this drug that nobody reads… then she was moved to Boniva to protect her spine and after 3 years she sat on a chair and 3 vertebrae cracked…This is because with ibandronic acid you get ”great” density of accumulated OLD bone and do not produce New. So old bone cracks like a dry biscuit!

  • Gil


    I guess you better tell those people who left glowing feedback on Amazon about improving their bone scans and reversing osteoporosis after taking Jarrow brand Bone Up to not believe their doctors and their updated dexa scans…

    I think we can agree the body needs a balance of multiple forms of calciums and in order for the calciums to support the different parts of the body they need the support of other vitamins and minerals, including boron, silica, Mg, Vit D, Vit K, etc.

    Unfortunately, you’re right though. Most of my fellow allopathic physicians have received/continue to receive poor education on calcium.

  • JBlythe

    The author says calcium lactate is the most commonly used form in antacids. THis is incorrect. Calcium carbonate, chalk, is the most commonly used form in antacids–Tums, Rolaids, etc.

  • JBlythe

    This is due to “acidic” blood from the protein, but acidic blood is not necessarily the result of eating protein. Too much protein is bad noneless, but the anti-protein peep, usually vegans, have it a bit wrong..

  • Vito Goldfarb

    Thank you Global healing center for another educating article!!

  • Vito Goldfarb

    Kym I feel bad for you and anyone else whos at the Mercy of their Dr’s ignorance. Their usefulness ended the second your surgery was done. Read research and read more. the Walmart brand Calcium is garbage its the Calcium carbonate mentioned in the article my wife is in a very similar situation as you medically. If I were you I would supplement with the absolute best bioavailable of
    1. Calcium
    2. Magnesium
    3. Vitamin D3 5000iu
    4. Vitamin K2 mk-7
    Theres no reason you cant live a long healthy life if you educate yourself which is exactly what your doing by reading articles like this!

  • Vito Goldfarb

    Too much protein lol where did you hear that? How about cheap calcium carbonate a vitamin d3 and k2 mk7 deficiency the dr means what?

  • Vito Goldfarb

    I agree

  • FecalFred

    Wow, not a single word mentioned about the link between calcium supplements and heart disease. Speaks volumes about this site.

    Don’t be sheep. Do proper research based on proper sources.

  • DoubtingThomas

    I did some searching and found this information and it says there’s no link.

  • diane

    I am sorry to say , however I think the Dr is nothing but a profiting drug salesmen. Please beware -no one should be taking calcium . Everyone gets an overload in their diet already and that alone is causing great damage to your body , blood vessels , heart and muscular system, and energy. Yes all that aging damage is from calcium., and if he isn’t warning about that then he is a QUACK . A vitamin salesman and nothing more. Magnesium is all you need for bones and heart – Please do your research. Type in ” the dangers of calcium “

  • deetub

    I researched if it’s a good idea to listen to ladies named diane who don’t understand punctuation and the answer was a big fat no.

  • Hipshot60

    You are soooo wrong! I have COPD and use an inhaler which leeches calcium from my bones. I have fractured my back twice because of this and literally broken it once. My hip bones show thinning and I MUST take calcium or suffer with broken bones. The calcium content of foods we eat has declined over the past 50 or so years because our soils are becoming depleted of required nutrients. Even with the fertilization of farmland it’s not enough. Farmers fertilize with three or four nutrients while the soil needs over 50 nutrients to recover. Crop rotation helps but it’s no fix. Some farmers know about this and actually take farmland out of production for a time but to say we get enough calcium from the foods we eat is misleading to say the least.

  • Hipshot60

    On the NOSE statement!

  • Hipshot60

    It’s a real shame they don’t teach Nutrition at Medical Schools. Medicine is only half of the cure. Nutrition is the other half.

  • Hipshot60

    Osteoporosis is also a condition which crops up as people age and mostly in Women. I have it but mine is from a medication I take so I can breath, Albuterol.

  • Hipshot60

    And Nutrition in general.

  • Tabatha Mart

    I’ve read that somewhere; however my aunt Never ate much protein and got osteoporosis. So many factors involved but definitely:
    D3 5000-10,000

  • Tabatha Mart

    Excellent agree.

  • guest

    No amount of calcium is going to help if you lack strontium and other bone and more related trace minerals like vitamin c, vitamin d, boron, copper, zinc, manganese and a few more.

  • Hipshot60

    I consume a huge amount of protein and I have COPD which means I use an inhaler and suffered with Osteoporosis and did not know what is was till I broke my back @ L-2
    Now I take Calcium Citrate + Magnesium + D-3 every day. 600mg, 300mg and 400iu in that order.

  • Sincerely

    You are a complete idiot. Its people like you passing around false information is why people get in trouble with their health. Excess calcium is dangerous. However, most people in the western world are calcium deficient in their diet and require supplementation to make up for this deficiency. You realize your bones are made up of calcium, right? Not magnesium. -Please do some research. Type in “dangers of walking outside of your house.” Everything in life can be dangerous. With a little common sense and listening to the Dr that went to medical school (who maybe learned a thing or two in those 8 years of higher education) you may benefit from not being a complete lunatic.

  • servantheart

    Correction: Medicine is NOT the cure at all! Many times it’s the reason we need more nutrition.

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