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.

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?.

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