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Are Chewable Calcium Supplements Better Absorbed?

Calcium supplements can help ensure that you get your recommended daily amount of calcium, even if you have a hard time getting all you need from diet alone. There are many calcium supplements on the market, which can make it hard to select the best one. In general, whether a calcium supplement is chewable or not doesn't have any bearing on whether it's effective, so you can choose to take whichever supplement you prefer.

Calcium Needs

There are many reasons your body needs calcium to function. For starters -- and quite familiar to most people -- the bones consist of a hard salt made up in part of calcium. Furthermore, however, you use calcium to regulate your heartbeat, says Dr. Lauralee Sherwood in her book "Human Physiology." You also need calcium to produce muscular contractions. As such, calcium is important both in the skeletal system and in the blood.

Consuming Calcium

Whether you get your calcium primarily from food or primarily from supplements, you're actually taking in calcium in the form of a salt -- pure calcium is quite rare and your body doesn't use it. Calcium salts consist of a positively charged particle of calcium coupled with a negatively charged particle of variable identity. Examples of common calcium salts in supplements include calcium carbonate, calcium phosphate and calcium citrate. All of these are available either as pills or as chewable tablets.

Absorption

There are some minor differences in the degrees to which you can absorb different calcium salts. A 2007 article published in "Nutrition in Clinical Practice" says that in general, however, you can take whichever kind of calcium is most convenient and cheapest -- most individuals can absorb any of the common sources of calcium. Whether you take a chewable or a pill doesn't matter -- your stomach can break down and dissolve the calcium salts in either.

Other Considerations

One of the most major considerations with regard to absorption of calcium has to do with the other supplements you take at the same time. Other minerals, including zinc and particularly iron, can interfere with calcium absorption. As such, if you're taking other supplements as well -- and particularly if you're taking a high-dose iron supplement such as you might find in a prenatal vitamin -- you should take your calcium separately, at a different time of day.

References (2)

  • Human Physiology; Lauralee Sherwood, Ph.D.
  • Nutrition in Clinical Practice; Calcium Supplementation in Clinical Practice: A Review of Forms, Doses and Indications; D. Straub

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This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.