It's always a challenge to figure out which supplements to take and calcium is no different. There are 3 different types of calcium (Citrate, Carbonate and Phosphate) that are usually prescribed by your health practitioner when you are in need of calcium, and the amount often differs depending on your needs. I was told by my Rheumatologist, after a bone density test, that I should take between 1,500 and 2,000 mg per day, max, although 1,000 is recommended for those under 50 and, 1,200 for over 50. He suggested calcium citrate (in the form of Citracal) but you do have other choices.
CALCIUM CITRATE: (Citracal, Solgar etc) 21% calcium. This is the most easily absorbed calcium, and the most expensive of the 3. Apparently does not contain much elemental calcium
CALCIUM PHOSPHATE: (Posture) 39% calcium. Also easily absorbed, and does not cause gas or constipation. Costs more than calcium carbonate.
CALCIUM CARBONATE: ( Rolaids, Caltrate, Tums) 40% calcium. Contains elemental calcium, but can cause gas or constipation, and must be consumed with food or a glass of orange juice (or any other acidic juice). It is the least expensive of the 3.
You should make sure that you subtract the calcium you get in certain foods like dark green veggies, dairy products and calcium-enriched foods and juices from your total RDA, so you don't take too much.
Although it's always preferable to get your vitamins and minerals from foods etc, for those of us who are vegetarians or who don't or can't do dairy, a supplement is necessary.
Because the body only absorbs elemental calcium, check how much your supplement actually contains. It's also best to use Calcium with Vitamin D and C, so that fortified Orange Juice is a great way of getting all 3.
There are other types of calcium- gluconate and lactate, but they're not worth taking because they contain very small amount of elemental calcium. There has been a huge hype about coral and oyster shell calcium, but neither is recommended because they could contain high levels of lead or mercury.
DOSAGE: Because the body only absorbs a certain amount of calcium, it is best to take several doses per day.
For more information on how to choose a calcium supplement and which foods are calcium-rich, please click here.