Last updated: August 13, 2021

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The importance of calcium for our bones is drilled into us from childhood. As a "bone building block", calcium has a particularly important function for growing, but also already fully grown bones and teeth. In the first place, the mineral should be taken in through the diet. However, it also makes sense to think about taking calcium capsules. Especially if you are not able to consume calcium-rich foods in your everyday life.

With our large calcium tablet test 2021 we would like to help you find the right tablets for you. We have compared different capsules for you and compared their advantages and disadvantages. You can read this test report and make a decision about the right calcium tablets based on it.




The most important facts

  • Calcium is an important mineral that ensures the stability of bones and teeth and can be supplied to the body either in the form of a balanced diet or in the form of food supplements.
  • It is important that the recommended daily dose is not exceeded by food supplements. Otherwise there is a risk of damage to health, such as kidney disease and urinary stones.
  • A distinction is made between tablets based on calcium carbonate and calcium citrate, the origin and application of which should be decisive for your decision.

The Best Calcium Tablets: Our Picks

Guide: Questions you should ask yourself before buying calcium tablets

This section summarises all the important information about calcium, its effect and function.

What is calcium?

Calcium is the most important mineral in the human body in terms of quantity. Around 99 percent of our calcium is found in the skeleton and tooth enamel. The mineral ensures the stability of these tissues and is therefore also called the "bone building block".

Calcium Tabletten-2

Calcium is necessary for the strength and health of our teeth.
(Image source: unsplash.com / Lesly Juarez)

However, calcium cannot be produced naturally in the body. Therefore, it is important to get the mineral from food or supplements, such as calcium tablets. (1, 2)

What function does calcium have for our health?

Calcium and osteoporosis (bone loss) are often mentioned in the same breath. Together with the mineral phosphorus, calcium ensures healthy bone strength. If not enough calcium is taken in through the diet, the body draws on the calcium stores in the bones.

Calcium is considered the most important prerequisite for a healthy bone structure.

A long-term calcium deficiency leads to decalcification of the bones and teeth, which in turn can lead to an increased risk of bone fractures and deformities.

Furthermore, calcium is an important substance for maintaining the function of cells, nerves, muscles, heart, kidneys, lungs, blood clotting and hormone secretion. (3, 4)

How does a calcium deficiency manifest itself?

Symptoms of calcium deficiency are manifold. The intensity and duration of this deficiency condition are decisive. In general, however, the following symptoms are typical (4):

  • Brittle fingernails
  • Caries
  • Osteoporosis
  • Muscle cramps and tremors
  • Dry skin
  • Hair loss
  • Digestive disorders

When should I take calcium?

You should take calcium tablets when you notice that you cannot cover your calcium needs through your diet.

In general, you should also consider the way you take calcium. While calcium carbonate should not be taken during a meal, calcium citrate is taken in a completely different way.

Calcium citrate can be taken independently of meals and without stomach acid.

Calcium carbonate needs stomach acid for the absorption of the mineral. Too little stomach acid can reduce the effect of the calcium because it could be neutralised in the stomach. Too much stomach acid, on the other hand, (manifested for example by heartburn) can be alleviated by taking calcium carbonate.

Calcium citrate has the advantage that you do not have to pay attention to when you take it. It can be taken both during a meal and on an empty stomach. (6)

How much calcium do I need?

A person's calcium requirement depends on a number of factors. Age in particular has a great influence on the amount of calcium needed. Growing bones need more calcium than bones that are already fully grown. At the same time, people excrete a lot of calcium through sweat. That is why athletes also have a higher calcium requirement. (5)

To get an overview of a person's calcium requirement, a table of the recommended daily intake is shown below.

Age/life circumstance Recommended daily dose (mg/day)
0 to under 4 months 220
4 to under 12 months 330
1 to under 4 years 600
1 to under 4 years 750
7 to under 10 years 900
10 to under 13 years 1100
13 to under 19 years 1200
19 to 65 years 1000
Pregnant women 1000
Lactating women 1000

What are the side effects of overdosing?

Taking calcium supplements in particular can lead to calcium oversupply. We therefore recommend that you consult a doctor before taking calcium supplements. The following side effects may occur:

  • Intestinal sluggishness and upper abdominal discomfort (dyspepsia)
  • Kidney stones
  • Impaired kidney function
  • Prostate cancer
  • Cardiovascular risk (studies provide contradictory results)

According to scientific studies, the risk of these side effects is reduced by calcium intake via food. This can be explained by the fact that excessive calcium absorbed through food can be excreted again in the form of urine.(3)

Where can I buy calcium tablets?

Calcium tablets are available at the following sales points:

  • Pharmacies (including online pharmacies)
  • Supermarkets
  • Drugstores
  • Online shops, such as Amazon

However, if you still need advice on intake and dosage, it is advisable to use the knowledge of trained pharmacists.

How much do calcium tablets cost?

The price of calcium tablets depends mainly on the package size. While variants from drugstores or supermarkets cost around 3 euros in small pack sizes, a larger pack from the pharmacy can cost up to 30 euros.

What are the alternatives to calcium tablets?

The most sensible alternative is to simply cover your calcium needs through your diet. However, if you are not able to do this for various reasons, you should think about taking calcium tablets.

It is especially difficult for people with lactose intolerance, because dairy products in particular contain a lot of calcium. However, there are some lactose-free foods that contain a lot of calcium. It is worth finding out about them.

Decision: What types of calcium tablets are there and which are right for me?

If you are thinking about getting calcium tablets, there are two alternatives you have to choose between:

  • Calcium carbonate tablets
  • Calcium citrate tablets

Briefly explained, this means that calcium tablets can have different sources. These have advantages and disadvantages, which we would like to point out in the following paragraphs to make your decision easier.

What distinguishes calcium carbonate tablets and what are their advantages and disadvantages?

The more natural of the two variants is calcium carbonate. It does not have to be produced artificially and consists of the elements calcium, carbon and oxygen. It also contains iodine. Calcium carbonate can be obtained from coral skeletons or algae (Lithothamnium calcareum), for example, and has a particularly high calcium content.

Calcium carbonate is often not suitable for vegans, contains iodine and is therefore a concern for thyroid sufferers.

However, this natural variant also has a few disadvantages. For example, if your stomach acid is too low, you should use another product. If you still want to consume calcium carbonate, a squeeze of lemon juice should help. This means that the calcium is not neutralised directly in the stomach and the full effect is achieved.

Calcium carbonate, on the other hand, can be a small miracle cure for excess stomach acid: It relieves heartburn. In thyroid disorders, calcium carbonate should not be taken because of the iodine content.

Studies also show that the carbonate can be absorbed more quickly in the blood and increases the calcium blood level more quickly [6].

Advantages
  • Natural product
  • High calcium content
  • Relieves heartburn
  • Quickly absorbed into the blood
Disadvantages
  • Tied to meals
  • Jodeinnahme ist bei gewissen Krankheiten problematisch
  • Often not vegan

What are the advantages and disadvantages of calcium citrate tablets?

Calcium citrate is the synthetic variant and comes from the laboratory. It is made from citric acid and calcium hydroxide. The products made from calcium citrate taste slightly acidic due to the citric acid.

Regarding the effect of calcium citrate tablets, we can state that according to scientific studies they have a more positive effect on osteoporosis. In addition, we have already found that calcium citrate can be absorbed without stomach acid and is therefore easier to use. Calcium citrate tablets are also more often suitable for vegans and vegetarians, as the active ingredient has no animal origin. (6)

Advantages
  • Means against osteoporosis
  • intake not linked to meals
Disadvantages
  • Tastes slightly acidic
  • Synthetically produced

Buying criteria: You can use these factors to compare and evaluate calcium tablets

In the following, we will show you which criteria you can use to decide between the many different calcium tablets. They are:

In the following paragraphs we will explain what is important in the individual purchase criteria.

Dosage

Calcium Tabletten-1

Calcium is available as a food supplement in the form of tablets.
(Image source: unsplash.com / The-Lore.com)

In any case, you should follow the recommended daily intake of calcium and not exceed it. It is almost harmless to take in too much calcium through food. Since the body can simply excrete the excess calcium through the urine, there is no risk of long-term damage to the body. (5)

A daily intake of 1000 mg of calcium should not be exceeded.

Calcium supplements, on the other hand, cannot be easily broken down and excreted by the body. In case of an overdose, they cause damage to health, such as kidney disease and urinary stones (7)

Additives

Calcium tablets are often enriched with additives because pure calcium cannot be absorbed by the body. Note, however, that you only need these additives if you cannot absorb enough of these vitamins or minerals through food or other means. The following additives are used and you should know them:

Additive Meaning
Vitamin D Ensures that calcium can be absorbed by the body at all. Therefore, you should always pay attention to the recommended daily dose of vitamin D in order to avoid calcium deficiency. Note, however, that additional vitamin D intake is not necessary if you get enough sunlight [8].
Magnesium Related to vitamin D because magnesium is needed to activate it. So these three minerals go hand in hand [9].
Vitamin K2 Is responsible for distributing calcium in the body and preventing it from settling in the blood vessels. This would lead to calcification.

(9)

Size of the packaging

Of course, there are differences between the sizes of the packages and thus about the number of tablets in them. While small packs are suitable for taking over a short period of time, you should use large packs for longer periods. Note, however, that very large packs often require a prescription.

Mode of administration

A distinction can be made between different types of tablets:

tablet form characteristics
film-coated tablets are absorbed particularly quickly into the bloodstream through the stomach mucous membranes. However, certain film-coated tablets are coated with special substances (such as lactose) that some people cannot tolerate.
Chewable tablets Contain sweet flavours (honey, lemon, etc.) to make taking the product more pleasant. Are especially suitable for children.
Effervescent tablets This form is also often more pleasant in taste and therefore recommended for children.

Price

The price of calcium tablets should also be considered as a purchase criterion. As with all products, there are cheap and expensive variants. As a general rule, the price does not always say anything about the quality of the product. It is better to ask your family doctor which products he or she recommends. Our favourites are all relatively inexpensive and are a great guide to good value for money.

Vegan or lactose-free?

Pay attention to the lactose content if you are lactose intolerant. If you are vegetarian, the gelatine content is important.

In addition, you should check if the calcium tablets are vegan or lactose-free (if you need them). Many tablets contain lactose because they are coated with it or it serves as a carrier for the actual active ingredient of the product. However, there are already many products that are available without lactose.

Likewise, the range of dietary supplements includes numerous vegan calcium tablets. Pay particular attention to the addition of gelatine in the tablets and whether the calcium carbonate is made from coral. However, this is definitely marked on the package.

Interesting facts about calcium tablets

We have already provided you with the most important information about calcium tablets. In this section you will find more interesting information about the mineral, including which foods you can use to quickly cover your calcium needs.

How quickly does calcium work?

Taking calcium usually works immediately, as soon as the calcium is absorbed by the body. Studies have shown that calcium carbonate enters the bloodstream more quickly than calcium citrate because of its high calcium content. In addition, film-coated tablets are absorbed more quickly by the mucous membranes than effervescent and chewable tablets. However, it takes different amounts of time (depending on the severity of the possible deficiency) for the symptoms to disappear.

What is the shelf life of calcium tablets?

Of course, it depends on the composition of the tablets and the manufacturer. However, calcium tablets have an average shelf life of three years. Medical products should no longer be taken after the expiry date. (10)

Calcium Tabletten-3

Calcium is found in many foods. Dairy products in particular, for example cheese, can cover the daily requirement.
(Image source: unsplash.com / Jez Timms)

Which foods contain a lot of calcium?

As already mentioned several times, calcium requirements should best be met with a balanced diet. The following foods contain particularly high amounts of calcium (11, 12)

Food Calcium Calcium content per 100g
1 slice Emmental cheese (45 % F i. Tr.) 412 mg 1372 mg
200g Kale (cooked) 358 mg 179 mg
30g Parmesan (40 % F i. Tr.) 353 mg 1176 mg
250g Low-fat milk (1.5 % fat) 295 mg 118 mg
1 slice Gouda (45 % F i. Tr.) 287 mg 958 mg
200g spinach (cooked) 280 mg 140 mg
70g rocket 112 mg 160 mg
200g buttermilk 218 mg 109 mg
150g yoghurt (1.5 % fat) 171 mg 114 mg
200g broccoli (cooked) 174 mg 87 mg
30g hazelnuts 45 mg 149 mg
30g Brazil nuts 52 mg 161 mg

Are there special calcium tablets for children?

Calcium supply is especially important for bones that are still growing. In principle, a healthy diet should be preferred to calcium tablets. However, if children avoid dairy products and other sources of calcium, it is a good idea to buy calcium tablets for children. There are now a variety of tasty lozenges or chewable tablets. You can find an example in our editorial favourites.

Image source: Nevodka/ 123rf.com

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