Calcium supplements are used by people to increase their intake
of calcium, a mineral the body needs to make bones and teeth.
When you are choosing a calcium supplement, it is important to know the amount of elemental
calcium in the recommended dose. Elemental calcium is the amount of calcium
that is actually used by the body. Consumers are advised to look at the amount
of elemental calcium in each tablet in a supplement, as opposed to the strength of
each tablet, which includes other substances.
Types of calcium
Calcium carbonate, which is 40% elemental
Calcium citrate, which is 21% elemental calcium. While
lower in elemental calcium than calcium carbonate, calcium citrate is easier to
digest and does not cause constipation as much as do other types of calcium
Calcium gluconate and calcium lactate, which contain
a low amount of elemental calcium.
A person who takes calcium supplements should drink plenty of
water and take other steps to avoid constipation.
bonemeal, oyster shell, and dolomite contain calcium naturally but may also
contain heavy metals, particularly lead.
Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine & Carla J. Herman, MD, MPH - Geriatric Medicine