Comparison of Absorption Rates of 6 Types of Calcium Supplements! Understanding the Best Time to Take Calcium Pills and Side Effects


Calcium is one of the most essential nutrients for the human body. Apart from consuming high-calcium foods, supplementing with calcium pills is a good way to meet calcium needs. However, which type of calcium supplement has a higher absorption rate? Understanding the best time to take calcium pills and potential side effects is crucial.

Types of Calcium Supplements and Their Absorption Rates:

Calcium deficiency can lead to issues like muscle cramps, muscle tension, nighttime teeth grinding, palpitations, irregular heartbeat, and fatigue, underscoring the importance of calcium supplementation.

Common calcium supplements in the market can be broadly categorized into six types: seaweed calcium, calcium carbonate, calcium lactate, calcium citrate, calcium gluconate, and amino acid chelated calcium. These variations differ in their absorption rates and calcium ion content, as outlined in the table below:

Comparison of Calcium Ion Content and Absorption Rates of 6 Types of Calcium Supplements

Calcium Supplement     Calcium Ion Content     Absorption Rate

Seaweed Calcium                  32%                                  39%

Calcium Carbonate               40%                                  26%

Calcium Lactate                      13%                                  29%

Calcium Citrate                       21%                                  35%

Calcium Gluconate                10%                                  27%

Amino Acid Chelated Calcium   16%                                  80%

When purchasing calcium supplements, opting for highly absorbable amino acid chelated calcium or seaweed calcium tends to yield better results.

Which Supplements Should Not Be Taken with Calcium Pills?

Given the importance of calcium, it's vital to pay attention to how calcium pills are consumed, especially since two types of supplements shouldn't be taken with calcium pills to prevent interference with calcium absorption.

Fish Oil: Research abroad suggests that simultaneous intake of fish oil and calcium pills may lead to saponification. Saponified calcium is hard and challenging for the intestines to absorb, potentially causing constipation. However, this study has been contested by many experts, as the formation of saponified calcium requires high temperatures and strong alkaline conditions, which are unachievable within the human body. Yet, many individuals have reported relief from constipation by staggering the intake of fish oil and calcium pills, calling for further scientific investigation.

Iron: Iron is also a vital nutrient, but it's advisable not to combine iron-containing foods or supplements with calcium pills. Both compete for absorption through the same pathway in the body, significantly reducing their effectiveness.

Can Calcium Pills Be Taken Long-Term?

For individuals with a calcium deficit, long-term calcium supplementation is recommended, given that studies have found that about 90% of the Taiwanese population lacks sufficient calcium intake. Irregular calcium pill consumption habits, such as skipping doses or taking breaks, are common. It's crucial to note that discontinuing calcium intake for those habituated to it can trigger the body to release a substantial amount of calcium from the bones into the bloodstream to maintain balance, potentially exacerbating osteoporosis.

Hence, it's advisable for individuals accustomed to taking calcium pills regularly to continue unless they can fulfill their recommended calcium intake through natural food sources.

Best Time to Take Calcium Pills?

The timing of calcium pill consumption is essential, especially as different types of calcium supplements may have varying recommendations.

Calcium Carbonate: Ideal to take with meals or after meals when stomach acid is present.

Seaweed Calcium and Calcium Citrate: Absorption is not significantly restricted, allowing for supplementation before bedtime. Taking calcium pills before sleep reduces interaction with food intake and can soothe muscles, reducing the likelihood of nighttime cramps and promoting better sleep quality.

Can Excessive Calcium Pill Intake Cause Kidney Stones?

The main component of kidney stones is calcium oxalate. Calcium itself plays a catalytic role, but the real issue lies in oxalates. Foods such as tea and sugary beverages are significant sources of oxalates. Hence, it's advisable not to combine high-calcium foods with oxalate-rich items to avoid forming calcium oxalate and increase the risk of kidney stones.

Are There Side Effects of Calcium Pills?

Excessive intake of calcium pills can lead to side effects when the concentration of calcium ions in the blood becomes too high, causing hypercalcemia. Symptoms include:

Neuromuscular symptoms: Headaches, decreased muscle tone, fatigue, and even coma.

Gastrointestinal symptoms: Vomiting, nausea, constipation, and abdominal pain.

Renal dysfunction: Increased urination, thirst, and dehydration.

Other issues: May lead to irregular heartbeat and bone pain.

Thankfully, these symptoms can be mitigated by adjusting calcium intake to recommended levels and monitoring overall health regularly.


0 留言