Choosing an OTC Calcium Supplement
The Better Life Experts | July 2, 2009

Generally, physicians recommend using a calcium supplement for people who do not meet the recommended daily requirements through their diet. There are many over-the-counter (OTC) calcium supplements available on the market today and it pays to choose wisely. Do not use ‘natural’ sources of calcium that contain bone meal or dolomite because they may include lead or mercury. The following categories of calcium are available under different national brands and may be formulated for other uses (such as antacids). Avoid products that contain aluminum by reading the supplement’s labels carefully.

Calcium Carbonate

  • Provides 40% elemental calcium (e.g. product containing 1,250 mg. of calcium carbonate yields 500 mg. of elemental calcium);
  • Cost Effective;
  • Contains highest percentage of elemental calcium;
  • Proven track record for effectiveness;
  • May cause constipation or gas so make sure that you drink lots of fluids, consume adequate fiber and exercise
Calcium Citrate

  • Provides 21% elemental calcium;
  • Easily absorbable;
  • Can be taken with or without food;
  • Contains lower percentage of elemental calcium so an individual would have to consume more calcium citrate to equal the same amount of calcium carbonate;
  • Tends to be more expensive than calcium carbonate

Calcium Phosphate

  • Provides 39% of elemental calcium;
  • Easily absorbable;
  • Easily digested;
  • Can be taken with or without food;
  • More expensive than calcium carbonate but less expense than calcium citrate;
  • Commonly seen in orange juice and other calcium-fortified foods

For further information about the use of over the counter calcium supplements, contact the Calcium Information Center at

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