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Calcium Citrate Supplements

Calcium citrate supplements compete aggressively with those made of calcium carbonate. calcium-citrate-supplements | ArticleTypically, citrate brands such as Citracal ® are more costly per daily serving among supermarket calciums. In health food stores, calcium citrate supplements fall into the middle price-wise.  Brands having a proven benefit with osteopenic patients, such as AdvaCAL, may be higher priced.

For years, the manufacturers of calcium carbonate and calcium citrate supplements sparred over which form was better absorbed. Researchers from Creighton University published results showing the two supplements to be absorbed equally.  Doctors from the University of Texas Southwestern Texas Medical Center found Citracal to be more bioavailable. Ultimately, a hearing by the National Advertising Division (NAD) of the Better Business Bureau resolved the dispute. NAD deemed the data from Creighton University to be more representative of typical human absorption of calcium.  In most advertising today, calcium citrate supplements do not claim to be better absorbed than their calcium carbonate counterparts, although many doctors and health writers still side with citrate.

Calcium citrate is chelated calcium, meaning the calcium is bound to an organic acid through a laboratory process. Research suggests that calcium chelates act like food during digestion, helping to keep the calcium soluble in the GI tract.  The advantage of chelated calcium, including calcium citrate supplements, over calcium carbonate, however, is negligible when both are taken with food.  There appears to be little difference in absorption between calcium chelates and calcium carbonate in the presence of food.

One of the potential downside of chelated calcium is that some may be less concentrated than natural calcium forms.  Calcium citrate is comprised of only about 21% elemental (or pure) calcium. That means the remaining 79-80% is carrier. Some calcium citrate brands have been stigmatized as being large “horse “pills, resulting primarily from the carrier. Large pills may be hard for people to swallow, especially women.

Drugs.com provides the following information about calcium citrate supplements, in this case Citracal Petites:

  • Take this medication exactly as prescribed by your doctor. Do not take it in larger amounts or for longer than recommended. Follow the directions on your prescription label.  Take the calcium and vitamin D regular tablet with a full glass of water. Store calcium and vitamin D combination at room temperature away from moisture and heat.


  • Take the missed dose as soon as you remember. If it is almost time for your next dose, wait until then to take the medicine and skip the missed dose. Do not take extra medicine to make up the missed dose.


  • Seek emergency medical attention if you think you have used too much of this medicine. Overdose symptoms may include irregular heartbeat, stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, dry mouth, a metallic taste in your mouth, confusion, and loss of appetite, constipation, weakness, headache or fainting.”


calcium-citrate-supplements | ArticleCalcium citrate is well tested and popular. While other forms of calcium, such as AdvaCAL, may be more compelling to some based on its research showing increased bone density or reduced fracture risk, calcium citrate  does offers certain pluses. One is that it can be well absorbed without food. It that is your preference, there are many brands of calcium citrate supplements from which to choose.