The best calcium supplement
No matter your age, calcium is an important part of any diet, as it's essential for strong bones and teeth. It's not always easy to get what you need from your regular food consumption, so calcium supplements can help fill that gap in your nutrition.
If you want to know which ones are the best, just follow our helpful buying guide, and read the reviews at the end. We even included an assessment of our pick for Best of the Best, Nature Made Calcium Tablets.
Considerations when choosing calcium supplements
Elemental calcium quantity
Every calcium supplement has a different number representing the amount of elemental calcium contained within. The higher the elemental calcium number, the more pure calcium you are getting from a supplement. To check the amount of elemental calcium in a supplement, just check the label. The target amount should be at least 20 percent. Some are as high as 40 percent, which is even better. The FDA recommends that every calcium supplement display the amount of elemental calcium that it contains.
Perhaps the most important factor in purchasing calcium supplements: Determining which type of supplement you want to try. There are many different types of calcium supplements. Some of the most common ones are calcium carbonate, calcium citrate, calcium phosphate, calcium gluconate, calcium lactate, and calcium orotate.
Calcium citrate is inexpensive and easy to find. It contains 20% elemental calcium. The higher the quotient of elemental calcium, the more efficient it is. And, for reference, 20% is not very high. Calcium citrate, however, is easier on the stomach than some of the alternatives.
Calcium carbonate is also reasonably priced and relatively common. It has a higher level of elemental calcium, which reaches 35% to 40%. It is the most efficient of all the different types of calcium available. Because of this, it also has some of the most severe side effects. Some people experience constipation, gas, and bloating. When taking calcium carbonate, it's important to drink lots of water.
Calcium lactate has only 13% of elemental calcium. It is, however, one of the easiest calciums for the stomach to absorb. It is a little more expensive than most of the other options, and you will need to take more of it because of the low efficiency ratio.
Calcium phosphate is found in bones and teeth. It's not a common form of supplement, though. This is usually only recommended for people who are phosphate deficient. Phosphate deficiency is not the same condition as calcium deficiency.
Calcium gluconate has low elemental calcium levels. Because of this, it's not a very popular supplement. It is one of only two forms of calcium that is administered to patients intravenously by doctors to treat extreme calcium deficiencies.
Calcium orotate is found in most organisms and is an effective calcium supplement. It isn't very common because of the cost to produce it.
Most calcium supplements will cost between $0.05 to $0.25 per pill. The biggest factor in price per pill is the amount of elemental calcium in each one. The higher percentage of elemental calcium, the higher the price.
Q. Why do I need to take so many calcium supplements in a single day?
A. The human body is not adept at absorbing more than about 500mg of calcium in a single sitting. That's why, to get a full 1,000 to 1,200mg a day, you need to take multiple supplements. Otherwise you won't get your daily fill.
Q. How is vitamin D related to calcium in the body?
A. Your body is unable to absorb calcium without vitamin D. If you don't have enough vitamin D in your system, then you will begin to absorb the calcium already in your body.
Calcium supplements we recommend
Best of the best: Nature Made Calcium Tablets
Our take: 600 mg of calcium and 400 IU of vitamin D3.
What we like: No artificial flavors or yeast. Relatively easy on the stomach.
What we dislike: Tablets are gritty and some find them hard to swallow
Best bang for your buck: Vitafusion Calcium Gummy Vitamins
Our take: Gummies are more pleasant to take than tablets.
What we like: Each serving has as much calcium as 12 ounces of milk.
What we dislike: Flavor is a little strong for some.
Choice 3: Caltrate Calcium Supplement
Our take: Contains more vitamin D3 than most of the other choices.
What we like: Features one of the most common forms of calcium -- calcium carbonate -- and the vitamin D3 helps maximize absorption.
What we dislike: Tablets don't taste very good, perhaps due to the artificial dyes.
Adam Reeder is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.
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