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Calcium citrate is one of the more popular supplemental forms of the essential mineral calcium. Other forms forms include calcium carbonate (coral calcium), calcium gluconate, calcium lactate, and calcium phosphate. Calcium is an essential mineral and is well-known as a primary factor in the prevention of osteoporosis, the common degenerative condition characterized by brittle and porous bone, stooped-over posture, and increased risk of fracture. Throughout life, the body uses calcium to build and maintain the structure of bones and teeth, but calcium's also necessary for many other purposes such as proper muscle, nerve, and heart function, blood clotting, energy production and immunity.
The most abundant mineral in the body, calcium also happens to be one of the most abundant minerals in the diet relative to most other minerals. Milk products, dark green leafy vegetables, broccoli and tofu are all good sources. There are also many calcium-fortified food products available, such as orange juice and soy milk. But while we can get some calcium from the diet, our nutritional requirement for calcium is higher than many minerals, between 1000-1500 mg per day, and most diets supply less than half that amount. Because osteoporosis is so common, calcium supplements either are important or will become important to many people to preserve bone health and prevent further deterioration.
Poor calcium intake or absorption are likely to play a major role in the development of osteoporosis. The efficiency of calcium absorption varies throughout the lifespan, being greatest at infancy and steadily declining after age 30. Other nutritional factors affect the absorption and excretion of calcium such as protein, sodium and caffeine intake.
Studies prove that increasing calcium intake is not only helpful in the prevention of osteoporosis, but is also crucial for those who have developed the disease by minimizing further bone loss. In studies involving obese individuals, there was an association between dietary intake of calcium and decreased levels of body fat, although it's not clear as to whether supplemental calcium offers the same benefit or at what dosage. But since calcium is an essential mineral, and calcium supplements are both affordable and safe to use, they're a logical investment by anyone trying to lose weight.
Calcium citrate is one of the better-absorbed forms of calcium, but also contains less calcium, gram for gram, than other forms like calcium carbonate. There is not a significant difference or advantage to using one form of calcium over another, provided the calcium is always taken in divided doses with food. Studies prove that increasing calcium intake is not only helpful in the prevention of osteoporosis, but also helps those that have developed the disease by minimizing bone loss and improving bone health.1
For best results, choose a calcium citrate supplement that includes vitamin D and always take calcium with food, preferably in divided doses.
Mild to non-existent when taken with food. Pregnant and lactating women may have different calcium needs and should consult their ob/gyn for guidelines. Those with hypercalcemia, sarciodosis, hyperparathyroidism, hypervitaminosis D and cancer should not consume calcium supplements except under strict medical supervision. calcium absorption may be affected when consumed in conjunction with caffeine, excess dietary fiber, or excess phosphates (especially in soft drinks). Consult your physician before using any calcium supplement if you are taking any medications.
1. Drugs Today (Barc). 1999 Aug;35(8):631-9.