Calcium Microcrystalline Hydroxyapatite
Calcium microcrystalline hydroxyapatite (MCHC) is a technical name for powdered calf bone. MCHC goes by other names, including MCHA, HA or ossein hydroxyapatite. Companies selling this compound have claimed it has unique bone enhancing properties. That is similar to claims made by AdvaCAL calcium supplements; AdvaCAL is comprised of AAACa calcium, a patented Japanese calcium oxide and calcium hydroxide. AAACa is different than MCHC. Federal judges have evaluated advertising claims for both compounds. One judge sided with AdvaCAL claims. Another dismissed a number of claims for calcium microcrystalline hydroxyapatite.
Bone Builder versus AdvaCAL
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has challenged advertising claims of Bone Builder™, (a supplement containing calcium microcrystalline hydroxyapatite) and AdvaCAL. The cases were heard in 1996 and 2009, respectively. The two cases had very different outcomes.
US Federal Judge Dennis M. Cavanaugh wrote that LaneLabs “clearly offered support and substantiation for claims” on AdvaCAL, "a premium calcium supplement.” The judge ruled in favor of LaneLabs on every contested point. He found the testimony of Andrew Lane, president of LaneLabs “forthcoming and credible” and was “more impressed” by the testimony of the LaneLabs experts.
In contrast, the FTC prevailed on many of its challenges to claims Bone Builder with calcium microcrystalline hydroxyapatite. As the FTC noted in its press release dated October 1996:
“Ads that claimed an over-the-counter calcium supplement could "restore lost bone," eliminate pain and was superior to other forms of calcium in the prevention or treatment of bone ailments were deceptive and misleading, according to FTC Administrative Law Judge Lewis F. Parker. Judge Parker’s decision upholds FTC charges against Metagenics, Inc., doing business as Ethical Nutrients, and its president, Jeffrey Katke. The charges were made in an administrative complaint seeking an order to halt the deceptive claims used to market Metagenics’ calcium supplement, "Bone Builder."
Advertisements for Bone Builder contain statements such as "Bone Builder can restore lost bone and has the clinical evidence to prove it," "Best absorbed calcium source . . .Proved by scientific studies on humans," and ". . .decreased pain and increased bone thickness when taken in adequate amounts over long enough periods of time, a record no calcium supplement could achieve." Although Metagenics presented papers and testimony in an attempt to document its ad claims, Judge Parker concluded that Metagenics did not possess and rely upon a reasonable basis to substantiate the claims.
However, Judge Parker dismissed Commission charges that Metagenics had not substantiated claims that Bone Builder [calcium microcrystalline hydroxyapatite] builds or increases bone thickness, halts or prevents bone loss or bone thinning....Judge Parker’s order permits Metagenics to make these claims."
One way to assess the performance of premium calcium supplements is to review their legal history, if any. Two brands – AdvaCAL and Bone Builder -- have made unique claims related to bone density. Claims for AdvaCAL were fully affirmed in court. That was not the case with Bone Builder, and its calcium microcrystalline hydroxyapatite.