Understanding Calcium: The Best Forms of Calcium Supplements

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. This form is the most commonly used antacid and is added to fruits to keep them firm and extend shelflife. 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.

- Dr. Edward F. Group III, DC, ND, DACBN, DCBCN, DABFM

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  • 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:

    http://www.annualreviews.org/doi/full/10.1146/annurev.nutr.010308.161202?url_ver=Z39.88-2003&rfr_id=ori:rid:crossref.org&rfr_dat=cr_pub%3dpubmed

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

    DK

  • Wózki do sprzątania

    Hello,
    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%?

  • http://www.globalhealingcenter.com Jared

    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.
    R.

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  • 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…

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  • 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

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  • 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?.

  • http://www.globalhealingcenter.com/ Global Healing Center

    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!

  • http://www.globalhealingcenter.com/ Global Healing Center

    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?

  • http://www.globalhealingcenter.com/ Global Healing Center

    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.

  • http://www.globalhealingcenter.com/ Global Healing Center

    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….

  • http://www.globalhealingcenter.com/ Global Healing Center

    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.

  • http://www.globalhealingcenter.com/ Global Healing Center

    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.

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