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How To Choose A Calcium Supplement

Filed Under: Vitamins and Minerals at 12:05 pm | By: Dr. Jeremy Wolf, ND
Calcium is the most abundant mineral found in the human body and it is needed to carry out various tasks. These tasks include; muscle function, clotting blood, nerve transmission, glycogen metabolism, cellular signaling, vascular contraction and vasodilation and hormone secretion. 99% of calcium is stored in your bones and teeth. Everyday we lose calcium through urine and feces, however some is also lost through our skin, nails, hair and sweat. Unfortunately, our body is not able to replace the calcium we lose, so it is important eat a diet containing calcium-rich foods and supplement when needed.

Benefits to Consider


  • Obesity/Weight Management
  • Prevention against Osteoporosis
  • Increases bone growth in children and adolescents
  • Colon Cancer Prevention
  • Hypertension
  • Prevention of Lead toxicity in children
  • Reduced risk of fractures
  • Decreased Severity of Premenstrual syndrome (PMS)

How to Read the Label

A. What is elemental calcium — This is a term used in calcium supplementation and refers to the amount of available calcium to the body in the supplement.
B. Types of Calcium

  • Calcium Carbonate
    One of the most widely used calcium preparations. Contains the most amount of elemental calcium (40%). Requires stomach acid for absorption so should be taken with meals.
  • Calcium citrate
    2nd most common form of calcium supplement available on the market. Contains lower amounts of elemental calcium (20%). Does not need to be taken with food.
  • Calcium Lactate and Gluconate
    Contain small amounts of elemental calcium not as widely used as other forms.
  • Additional Forms
    Other forms such as bone meal, dolomite and oyster shell have been found to contain measurable amounts of lead and should be avoided.
  • Plant-based
    Whole food plant-based calcium is also common in supplements. These can be taken without food as well.

Potency Considerations

Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) – the average daily nutrient intake level sufficient to meet the nutrient requirement of nearly all (97-98%) healthy individuals in a particular life-stage and gender group. Again this is only meant for healthy individuals and not individuals with acute or chronic illnesses.


What to Look For

  • Look for a 2:1 calcium to magnesium supplement ratio.
  • Calcium supplementation alone is risky because calcium requires other nutrients to be properly utilized. It’s important to consider that taking any calcium supplement without complementary nutrients like magnesium, vitamin D and vitamin K2, which help keep your body in balance, can have adverse effects.


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