If you do not get enough Calcium in your diet, you need a Calcium Supplement. Calcium Carbonate can cause problems. Calcium Citrate is easier for most individuals to tolerate. It does not require much stomach acid to dissolve. It can be taken with meals or between meals. You can take Calcium Citrate if you take antacids or medicines for reflux disease. You should consider taking it if you are older (age 50 and above – like AARP).
Calcium Citrate is much less likely to cause constipation or stomach upset. This is especially true if you take it with a meal. If your current Calcium pill is upsetting your digestion, switch to Calcium Citrate.
Calcium Citrate is much bulkier than Calcium Carbonate. Therefore Calcium Citrate pills usually are 2 tablets per serving. Therefore, 600mg Calcium Citrate per serving means 300mg Calcium per tablet. The “Petites” say 400 mg, but are actually 200 mg per tablet.
Citracal brand is the one Paul Harvey talked about. For many years it was the only Calcium Citrate easy to find. Unfortunately Citracal has added new products that are mostly Calcium Carbonate. Be sure the bottle you pick says Calcium Citrate on the front of the label.
Remember that you also need enough Vitamin D and Magnesium to properly absorb Calcium.
Jay Ginther, MD
2008 / Revised January 2011