Algaecal is a dietary supplement composed of calcium carbonate and minerals from algas calcareas. Most minerals are found at trace levels in algaecal; Calcium and magnesium are the only two ingredients listed on the product’s supplement facts table that are derived from the algae. Magnesium carbonate, vitamin C, vitamin D, vitamin K and boron are listed as additional ingredients on the algaecal supplement facts table.
Coral Calcium Similarities
Algas calcareas, more commonly known as lithothamnium calcareum, is a species of red algae that is found in many parts of the world. The calcified part of certain coral reefs is derived from algae calcareas or similar algal species. This may explain why both coral calcium and algaecal make similar trace mineral claims. (Interestingly, one can order algaecal or coral calcium from the same business address). Algaecal and coral calcium both contain the same form of calcium, namely calcium carbonate. Calcium carbonate is the most common form of calcium sold and one of the cheapest. It is used in supermarket calcium supplements and antacids.
Algaecal(r), sometimes misspelled as algeacal, advertises that it's “simply powdered” marine algae. According to the company’s website algae “washes up on the pristine shores of South America where it is harvested live, just like vegetables from a garden, then cold processed to retain nutritional value.” The quality of the oceans can change markedly, whether caused by man or nature. Unlike vegetables in a garden, people cannot control what algae is exposed to in the ocean. Some of those elements may end up in a “simply powdered” nutrient, even one certified as organic.
A recommended daily serving of four algaecal capsules contains 720 mg of calcium. Many calcium supplements provide the FDA recommended intake of 1000 – 1200 mg of calcium per daily serving. Depending on diet, people also get calcium from food sources.
Unpublished Study: Inconclusive
The company that sells algaecal had issued an executive summary of a 6-month human research study on its product. Two versions of algaecal were tested. The first version did not statistically improve bone density. However, the version with much higher amounts of "other" bone nutrients added did. The difference in calcium between the two versions was minor. This suggests the calcium carbonate in algaecal may not be effective in increasing bone density according to this research.
This study was unusual because it was "uncontrolled" with several variables in play. Controlled bone density research typically studies only one variable and runs for multiple years.. The algaecal study ran only 6 months. Both groups took algae calcium, other nutrients and strontium supplements. Both also made lifestyle changes, including following an exercise and diet program. Strontium supplements, a healthy diet and exercise have been independently shown to benefit bone health. Yet, only one of the two groups in this study showed any bone density improvement.
In contrast, numerous controlled studies on the calcium in AdvaCAL - with NO added bone nutrients, NO exercise, NO diet changes and NO strontium intake-- have shown statistically signifcant increases in bone density. The bone gains were noted as early as 4-6 months and at 1,2 and 3 years. To compare research, click here.
Based on its own research, most serious researchers would probably say that the bone density benefits derived from the algae calcium carbonate in algaecal are questionable and unproven.
NEW STUDY RESULTS: A 2010 study published in the Journal, Nutrients, has shown that AdvaCAL calcium is 57% better absorbed than calcium carbonate, the calcium in algaecal and other marine based calciums. The study involved dual isotope measurement, the gold standard for calcium research according to the study authors. Other studies have shown no difference in absorption among calcium carbonate, calcium citrate and calcium citrate malate when all are taken with food. AdvaCAL was statistically significantly better absorbed than calcium carbonate when both were taken with food. .Click here and refer to article #17. This comparative absorption results suggests that algaecal calcium may be less effective at increasing bone density than AdvaCAL. That is consistent with the bone density change research shown on both AdvaCAL and algaecal, to date.