Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Calcium (again)

I know, I know, I know... I talk about calcium a lot.  Do a search here on my blog and you'll get to read all about it.  But today I'm going to share some pretty pictures and some helpful links.  I promise not to get into the science of calicum on this one. 

I often get asked what kind of calcium citrate I take.  My answer is: "I use three different brands because I need the variety."  I tend to get bored easily with stuff and since I have to take 4 to 5 doses of calcium per day, I need to have options. 

Here's a pretty picture of my calcium choices:


Bariatric Advantage Calcium Lozenges - Wild Cherry - the name is deceiving because they aren't really lozenges.  When I hear the word lozenge I think of a hard candy cough drop type of, but these are more the consistency of a sweet tart.  You can either suck on them or chew them - or a combination of both.  The Wild Cherry flavor is my favorite - it's tart and sweet and is great to use as "dessert" after a meal.  I also enjoy the Cinnamon flavor but those suckers are definitely hot if you chew them right away. They also make Chocolate and Mint flavors. These are a bit pricey, but this is my splurge since I enjoy the taste so much.  The best price is to buy them directly from Bariatric Advantage and sign up for their auto-ship program; this will save you shipping costs. Or you can also buy these on Amazon.

UpCalD - this is a flavorless calcium citrate powder that mixed into anything.  I usually add it to my protein shakes in the morning, but it also works fine in plain water without altering the taste.  For those who don't want to swallow a bunch of pills all day, this is a great option.  They also make UpCalD Chewable Tablets and UpCalD To Go Packets.  Super convenient and super economical.

Citrical Regulars -- these pills are available everywhere in local stores.  You can get the brand name or the store brand (I buy the Equate brand from Walmart).  Just make sure you're grabbing the right generic bottle because they often have Citrical and Caltrate right next to each other.  Citrical is calcium citrate but Caltrate is calcium carbonate - which is the wrong kind for us.  These pills are a bit large for some people so you might also consider the Citrical Petites... slightly smaller pills with a smaller dose (200mg per pill vs. 315mg per pill).

AND.... I like my stuff to be pretty, of course.  So I actually keep my Bariatric Advantge Calcium Lozenges in a crystal candy dish on my countertop.  I don't pack my calcium for the day into my daily pill organizers (calcium is too big for those little compartments) -- so when I'm packing my daily pills I'll grab whatever calcium I need for the day from the candy dish or from the Citrical bottle. 


So, besides the three choices above, there are plenty of other calcium citrate options on the market.  Here's a list to get you started in  your research. 

TwinLabs --- Chewable or Capsules

Vitamin Shoppe -- Capsules or Tablets

Celebrate Vitamins -- Chewable Calcium Citrate (comes in Wild Cherry or Berries N Cream flavors)

Bariatric Advantage Chewy Bites (little nuggets of candy-like desserts) -- Chocolate or Lemon or Berry

Calcet Creamy Bites -- same as above but different brand.  Lemon

Bariatric Advantage Crystals (a powder similar to UpCalD) - Unflavored  or Lemon/Lime or Berry

Building Blocks Calcium - Chewable or Capsules

Many ask about liquid calcium citrate.  You have to be really careful with these options and read the label well.  Remember, you're looking for the words FROM or AS -- Calcium FROM Citrate or Calcium AS Citrate.  See chart below.  Here are a few of the most popular brands of liquid calcium on the market:

Swanson Liquid Calcium Citrate -- A good choice.  You get 500mg calcium from citrate per 1 tablespoon dose plus Vitamin D and Magnesium.  But be aware that there's 40 calories in each dose. 

NSI Liquid Calcium Citrate -- A good choice.  In each 1oz dose you get a full 500mg calcium plus Vitamin D3 and Magnesium.  There are only 20 calories per dose in this brand.

NOW Liquid Calcium - A good choice.  In each 1oz dose you get 500mg calcium plus Vitamin D3 and Magnesium.  40 calories per dose.  And this brand seems to be cheaper than the above two, so that's a bonus.

Below are the brands of liquid calcium you want to AVOID!
BlueBonnet Liquid Calcium  - This is NOT a good choice.  Notice the label says "Calcium Citrate" which means you need to multiply by 21% to calculate the actual elemental amount of calcium you'll get.  Two tablespoons (1oz) is 1200mg calcium, but after the calculation, you see that a dose is actually only giving you 252mg calcium citrate.  So you'd need 6 doses (12 tablespoons) per day to reach your minimum 1500mg calcium citrate requirement.

Tropical Oasis Liquid Calcium - This is NOT a good choice. The same as BlueBonnet, you get 252mg per half-ounce dose. To get your max limit, you'd need 1oz per serving and 3 to 4 servings per day. Which means you need 4oz total per day ... making for a very expensive calcium supplement (about $3.75 per day compared to about 66-cents per day for Citrical).  But at least they have labeled their bottle to reflect the 21% calculations so their customers know exactly what they are getting.

Lifetime Liquid Calcium -- I would avoid this one too. I really don't know if this is good or not.  The label is vague and you don't know if you're getting 750mg calcium citrate or 750mg calcium that's been calculate for elemental.  And even if it's 750mg per dose, it's common knowledge in the medical community that a body can only absorb 500-600mg elemental calcium at a time - so that makes me suspect it's not calculated for the 21% formula. The label simply says "calcium elemental" which is not an industry standard way of labeling and causes more confusion than understanding.

Wellesse Liquid Calcium -- This is NOT a good choice. It is a combination of calcium citrate and calcium triphosphate. Calcium triphosphate is not well absorbed by anyone - it's worse than calcium carbonate.  OH's resident vitamin guru, Andrea, actually called the company to inquire how much of the formula was citrate and how much was triphosphate - 80% is citrate. But when you run the numbers to calculate for elemental calcium, you end up with 200mg per dose. For the details of her discussion, see this OH thread.

Understanding Calcium Citrate Labeling
500 mg Calcium AS Citrate = contains 500mg elemental calcium
500 mg Calcium FROM Citrate = contains 500mg elemental calcium
500 mg Calcium Citrate = contains 21% elemental calcium = 105mg
500 mg Calcium = it’s probably calcium carbonate, but who knows for sure! If it isn’t properly labeled, don’t buy it.

Make sure you read the label to determine serving size of a full dose. Then do the math to determine how many tablets you need per day to reach your total calcium goal. Normally calcium citrate requires two pills to equal 500mg, so check the serving size. Remember, your body can't deal with more than 500-600mg calcium at one time, so scheduled your doses 2 hours apart.


  1. This is very informative. Thank you!

  2. I have been on the quest for calcium, too. Right now I'm taking the Citracal Calcium Citrate Petites with Vitamin D. I found a chewing gum, but it didn't tell me what kind or how much calcium it had. I called the 800 number and left a message asking them. I never heard back. That was the last I purchased that product.

    I also take the Bariatric Advantage dry vitamin D, 5000 IU daily since I am deficient.

  3. This information was very helpful to me. I purchased the Cal C and you are right I did not taste any after taste. THANKS!!!


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