Finding the best source of calcium is not that easy. Because the selection is very large. The best-known sources of calcium are calcium citrate and calcium carbonate. However, while calcium citrate originated in the laboratory, calcium carbonate comes from entirely natural sources of calcium.
Buy the best calcium supplements
Buying calcium can be a real challenge – at least if you don’t want to grab the first calcium supplement that comes along. In any case, take a close look at the list of ingredients for your chosen calcium source, as it can be very long.
Calcium – as an effervescent tablet?
In addition to calcium, there are often many completely unnecessary, if not unhealthy, ingredients. Often there are effervescent tablets with z. B. this composition (from a well-known manufacturer):
Citric acid, calcium carbonate, bulking agent: sorbitol, dextrose, acidity regulator sodium bicarbonate, vitamin C, flavoring, anti-caking agent: polyvinylpyrrolidone, silicon dioxide, vitamin E (vitamin E, modified starch, maltodextrin, anti-caking agent), sweeteners aspartame and acesulfame-K, beta-carotene (beta-carotene, Antioxidants: alpha-tocopherol, ascorbyl palmitate, sodium ascorbate, isomalt, gelatin, corn starch), emulsifier: sugar esters of fatty acids.
Wait a minute, you might be thinking, actually, I just wanted calcium. But you got a flavored mixture of sugar, sweetener, and acid with a bit of calcium in it.
Calcium – as a tablet to swallow?
If you now choose calcium tablets that you swallow as a source of calcium, then the list of ingredients is reduced a little and could look like this:
Calcium carbonate, filler gum arabic, filler cellulose, filler cross-linked carboxymethylcellulose, coating agent hydroxypropylmethylcellulose, dye titanium dioxide, separating agent magnesium salts of fatty acids, glazing agent shellac, separating agent talc, olive oil, separating agent silicon dioxide, emulsifier polysorbate 80, pteroylglutamic acid, D-biotin, cholecalciferol.
Fillers as far as the eye can see, plus dyes, separating and coating agents. And all this just because you want to refresh your calcium levels a little? But it gets even better: For people with an affinity for e-substances, there are calcium supplements of the following type:
calcium carbonate , fillers: E460, E468, E464; Stabilizers: E1201, E1202; Separating agent: E553b, gelatine, sucrose, emulsifiers E433, E470b; starch, vegetable oil hydrogenated; Vitamin D3, coloring E 171.
This list of ingredients cannot be deciphered at all without an E number table so such products should be avoided simply because of the cumbersome and customer-unfriendly declaration.
Calcium – as a sugar candy?
For those with a sweet tooth, the calcium market even offers so-called calcium sweets that you can suck or chew. Since it also contains some vitamin D3, the manufacturer writes about its product:
Calcium and vitamin D3 can contribute to the maintenance of bones and teeth.
Apparently, he completely forgets that sugar is not exactly the yellow of the egg for the teeth. Calcium is not the main ingredient in calcium sweets, but sugar (sucrose, glucose syrup, and honey).
A bit of calcium is mixed with it, different flavors and, to top it off, a portion of condensed milk. The composition then really looks more like candy than food supplements:
Sucrose, glucose syrup, calcium carbonate, coconut oil, calcium citrate, gelatine, condensed milk, honey, natural honey aroma, vanilla paste, aroma (vanillin), vitamin D3, mono- and diglycerides of fatty acids, sodium chloride, coloring (beta-carotene)
As a reminder: you actually want to do something good for yourself with a calcium supplement! Calcium is also tasteless. So it doesn’t taste terribly bitter so that you have to mask a taste with all your might.
So why all the additives and flavoring? Why mix sugar in food supplements when you want to avoid it in a healthy diet? Why Flavors? Why sweeteners?
There are no answers to these questions. But there are calcium preparations that do not require any additives at all.
Calcium supplements without additives are best
Most of the time, the best sources of calcium are preparations made from pure calcium citrate, or they are natural sources of calcium that mainly consist of calcium carbonate:
Calcium citrate – preferably 100 percent
For example, 100 percent calcium citrate is available in powder form, making tableting excipients superfluous. Calcium citrate capsules are also available. High-quality calcium capsules contain nothing but calcium citrate plus a little cellulose for the capsule.
However, calcium citrate comes without exception from the laboratory, where it is made from citric acid and calcium hydroxide – and is therefore from our holistic point of view (despite very good bioavailability) not the best all-around source of calcium.
If you prefer a natural source of calcium, then calcium carbonate is a much better idea.
Although there is also this in isolated or synthetic form from the laboratory (for preparations that consist of 100 percent calcium carbonate). In addition, natural calcium sources are also available in the field of calcium carbonate:
Calcium carbonate – preferably natural
There are many different sources of natural calcium carbonate with very different origins. Dolomite comes from the rock; from the skeleton of a coral the powder of the Sango sea coral.
And a red alga called Lithothamnium calcareum is also an excellent natural source of calcium.
Calcium carbonate in dolomite and the Sango sea coral
The Sango sea coral and the dolomite not only consist of calcium carbonate but also provide magnesium (in the form of magnesium carbonate).
Both minerals are present in the coral as well as in the dolomite in a very good ratio of 2:1 (Ca: Mg) so that both minerals can be utilized in the best possible way.
While dolomite consists exclusively of calcium and magnesium, the Sango sea coral also contains 70 other trace elements, albeit in very small amounts, which can be sufficient for some trace elements.
Furthermore, the Sango sea coral is a living being (animal) and not a rock like the dolomite. However, the calcium powder known as Sango sea coral is not obtained from living animals. Corals are constantly forming new skeletal material.
The well-known coral reefs arise from the old skeleton. Large parts of the dead skeletons break off again and again and fall to the bottom of the sea, from where they can be picked up to extract the Sango powder from them.
The original liveliness of the Sango sea coral is reflected in the fact that it can be better absorbed than dolomite.
Calcium carbonate in Lithothamnium calcareum
The calcium in the calcium-rich red alga Lithothamnium calcareum is also present in the form of calcium carbonate. The algae are dried and finely powdered and can now be taken in milligrams.
It consists of 30 percent pure calcium, which corresponds to a calcium carbonate content of over 80 percent, while the magnesium carbonate content is rather low at around 6 percent.
Algae calcium is a very good source of calcium since its bioavailability is said to be exceptionally good, which we will go into in more detail in the next chapter.
As a sea creature, the alga is quite rich in iodine. On the one hand, this can be positive if you want to bring your iodine supply into shape. On the other hand, it can be unfavorable for people who have an iodine allergy or a thyroid problem, for example.
Because 3 grams of the algae can contain up to 600 micrograms of iodine, which is a lot considering the daily requirement for adults of 200 micrograms.
However, the iodine content in Lithothamnium calcareum varies considerably, so it would be ideal if the relevant manufacturers had regular analyzes carried out and declared the iodine content on the calcium powder pack or the fortified drink.
Because the algae have been mixed into herbal drinks for calcium enrichment for many years, e.g. B. soy or rice drinks.
Although the Sango sea coral also comes from the sea, it only contains around 17 micrograms of iodine per daily dose, so it can optimize the iodine supply without harboring the risk of overdosing.
Calcium gluconate and calcium lactate
Calcium gluconate is used – mostly together with phosphates and fluorides – in calcium preparations that are used for osteoporosis and require a prescription.
Calcium gluconate is also a common calcium compound in emergency medicine, which is contained in infusion solutions.
Calcium gluconate and many other calcium compounds – such as calcium lactate – are rarely found in over-the-counter food supplements. Calcium lactate is occasionally used to fortify fruit juices with calcium.
Both calcium compounds are produced in the laboratory, the calcium gluconate biotechnologically with the help of mostly genetically engineered enzymes.
Genetically modified maize is often used as the starting material for the production of gluconic acid (for calcium gluconate). Calcium lactate, on the other hand, is synthetically produced from lactic acid.
These calcium compounds are therefore not particularly natural – and since their bioavailability is no better than that of other calcium preparations, we will not go into more detail about them below.
(By bioavailability we mean the percentage of a substance – here calcium – that is also resorbed by the body from a calcium source, i.e. can be absorbed.)
Calcium Carbonate or Calcium Citrate – Which is Better Bioavailable?
The best sources of calcium are either calcium citrate or calcium carbonate.
Although calcium citrate – as explained above – is not considered a natural source of calcium, at this point we would like to take a look at the two calcium sources in terms of their bioavailability, and this is very good in the case of calcium citrate.
However, many believe that calcium can best be absorbed from organic calcium citrate and less well from inorganic calcium carbonate.
Because no matter how much calcium you swallow – whether 200 or 1000 mg – the organism will rarely absorb 100 percent of it. Some will always be excreted through the kidneys.
Of course, you want to keep the part that is excreted as small as possible in order to be able to benefit as much as possible from the dietary supplement. Therefore, it depends on the bioavailability of the respective calcium compound. So what is the best source of calcium?
Study: Calcium carbonate better than calcium citrate
According to studies, calcium citrate was considered the better calcium supplement for years. It has been said time and again that it is absorbed up to 2.5 times better.
However, a 2014 study found that calcium citrate is not necessarily the better calcium. On the contrary, it shows calcium carbonate to be a significantly better compound.
In this study, the test persons (healthy women between 25 and 45 years of age) were given either two tablets each containing 500 mg of calcium as calcium citrate or 1000 mg of calcium as calcium carbonate in powder form.
It was found that the calcium level in the test subjects’ blood was higher when they had taken the carbonate – one, two, and four hours after taking the respective calcium supplement.
Calcium carbonate needs gastric acid – calcium citrate does not
However, in the study described, the calcium carbonate powder contained more vitamin D (1000 IU) than the calcium citrate preparation (400 IU), and vitamin D is known to enhance the absorption of calcium.
Healthy people also took part in the study. However, anyone who has already developed osteoporosis, for example, is no longer healthy.
The mere fact that osteoporosis could develop at all indicates that the person in question may be suffering from mineral absorption disorders, e.g. B. due to a lack of stomach acid.
(Stomach acid is essential for the absorption of minerals from food).
People with chronic stomach problems or those who take acid blockers usually have absorption disorders and can therefore only poorly absorb calcium from food. (Acid blockers are medicines with the active ingredients omeprazole, pantoprazole, or similar).
However, those who can hardly absorb the calcium from food also have a problem with the absorption of food supplements made from conventional calcium carbonate. In any case, sufficient gastric acid is required for its absorption, which is not the case with calcium citrate.
However, anyone who suffers from too much stomach acid will be downright happy with the carbonates. In this case, the calcium dissolves very well and the carbonates also have a soothing effect on heartburn and related symptoms.
Natural calcium carbonate with high bioavailability: Sango sea coral
However, natural calcium carbonate sources such as the Sango sea coral or the algae calcium are much more easily absorbable than isolated and concentrated calcium carbonates. In the case of the Sango sea coral, this was shown in a placebo-controlled cross-over study from 1999.
The participants who took the Sango Sea Coral as a dietary supplement ultimately had much higher levels of calcium absorption than those who took the regular calcium carbonate.
The bioavailability of the calcium from the Lithothamnium algae is also not comparable to conventional calcium carbonate or to foods that are considered high-quality sources of calcium, such as milk.
While milk calcium (e.g. from yogurt) can be resorbed to 43 percent and calcium from pears to 67 percent (which are already very good values), the calcium from the algae is apparently resorbed to 75 percent – according to studies by the French Center D ‘Études et de Valorisation des, Algues CEVA from 2007 showed.
This good absorbability is certainly one of the reasons why Lithothamnium calcareum has been used for so long to enrich herbal drinks with calcium.
Just 3 grams of the algae per liter are enough to provide the drink with the same calcium content as is usual for milk (120 mg per 100 g).
Increase bioavailability of calcium carbonate
Natural sources of calcium carbonate are therefore a very good choice. And if you want to increase their bioavailability even further or if you fear a lack of stomach acid, you simply add some lemon juice.
The fruit acid it contains converts part of the carbonate into calcium citrate, giving you an excellent but natural carbonate-citrate combination.
Which source of calcium is best for whom?
Ultimately, it also depends on the personal condition, the preferences (natural products – yes or no), and the individual situation, which calcium source is now the best:
If you would like a natural calcium supplement, you can use the Sango sea coral or Lithothamnium calcareum.
If you fear iodine deficiency, take Lithothamnium calcareum, if you want to optimize your iodine supply a little, take the Sango sea coral, if you want or have to avoid iodine completely, use calcium citrate.
If you have a stomach acid deficiency, take Sango or Lithothamnium with a little lemon juice or calcium citrate. Anyone struggling with excess stomach acid takes a calcium carbonate.
Buy the best source of calcium – and the most natural
If you like it even more naturally than Sango and don’t want to take the Lithothamnium algae because of the iodine, you can also fall back on a completely different, very good source of calcium, namely calcium-containing plant-based food supplements, such as e.g. B. Moringa (10 g moringa powder provide 200 mg calcium and thus a fifth of the daily requirement) or nettle leaf powder (10 g nettle powder contain around 100 mg calcium).
Although these are not specific calcium preparations, and of course, they are not dosed very highly, these holistic plant products provide far more nutrients and vital substances than just calcium. And since the various nutrients and vital substances are present in the plant in a natural combination, they mutually promote their utilization and effect on the organism.
So if you are now looking to buy calcium, we hope you have the information you need to find the best calcium source for you.