Calcium Citrate Vs. Calcium Carbonate


Calcium strengthens bones, and it also facilitates the body’s every muscle contraction and hormone secretion. Yet according to a 2009 USDA report, only one-third of Americans get adequate amounts of the mineral. Either calcium citrate or calcium carbonate, both non-prescription supplements, can help fill the gap.


  • The two are equally well-absorbed by the body, although people with low stomach acid -- such as older adults -- tend to absorb calcium citrate better. Both supplements come in tablet and liquid forms.


  • Calcium citrate is less concentrated than calcium carbonate, so it might require taking more pills per day. Calcium carbonate -- also used to alleviate heartburn and indigestion -- tends to be cheaper. Calcium carbonate should be taken with food, according to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, while calcium citrate does not need to be taken with food.


  • Calcium carbonate should be taken with meals; calcium citrate can be taken with or without food. For the best absorption, the National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements recommends taking no more than 500 milligrams at a time; if needed, take additional doses later in the day.


  • The recommended daily allowance for calcium for adults younger than 50 is 1,000 milligrams per day; for adults older than 50, the recommendation is 1,200 milligrams.


  • Calcium citrate and calcium carbonate can cause stomach distress, bloating, constipation and loss of appetite. Never exceed 2,500 milligrams .

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