Calcium supplements

Calcium supplements are used by people to increase their intake of calcium, a mineral the body needs to make bones and teeth.

An important factor in choosing a calcium supplement is the amount of elemental calcium in the recommended dose. Elemental calcium is the amount of calcium that is actually used by the body. Consumers are advised to look at the amount of elemental calcium per tablet in a supplement, as opposed to the strength of each tablet, which includes other substances.

Types of calcium supplements include:

  • Calcium carbonate, which is 40% elemental calcium.
  • Calcium citrate, which is 21% elemental calcium. While lower in elemental calcium than calcium carbonate, calcium citrate is easier to digest and does not cause constipation as much as do other types of calcium supplements.
  • Calcium gluconate and calcium lactate, which contain a low amount of elemental calcium.

A person taking calcium supplements should drink plenty of water and use other measures to avoid constipation.

Coral, bonemeal, oyster shell, and dolomite contain calcium naturally but may also contain heavy metals, particularly lead.

Last Updated: November 21, 2008

Author: Shannon Erstad, MBA/MPH

Medical Review: Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine & Kirtly Jones, MD - Obstetrics and Gynecology

related physicians

related services

Bon Secours International| Sisters of Bon Secours USA| Bon Secours Health System

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. Privacy Policy. How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.

© 1995-2010 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.