The Top 5 Best Calcium Supplements

Calcium is the most abundant mineral found in the human body.

It’s used in multiple physiological processes such as maintaining bone health and facilitating communication between the brain and parts of the body, so it’s vital for our health to get enough of it.

Calcium can be obtained through regular foods, fortified foods, and supplements. That said, however, many people do not get enough calcium and that’s where supplementation comes in.

In this article, we talk about the when, how, and why of getting enough calcium and the best calcium supplements to take if you or your doctor do decide that calcium supplementation is the way to go for your health situation.

 

When You Should Take a Calcium Supplement

Getting enough calcium is very important at all stages of life, but many people don’t get the recommended daily amount from the foods they eat. When you don’t get enough calcium through your diet, your body will start taking the calcium it needs from your bones and teeth, which can lead them to be weak and brittle.

For adults aged 19-50, the recommended daily amount is 1,000 mg per day. For those 70 and older, that number rises to 1,200 mg per day.

There are multiple reasons why people may not get enough calcium from their diet.

You’re more susceptible to having a calcium deficiency if you:

  • Are on a vegan diet
  • Have been taking corticosteroids for conditions caused by inflammation, such as for allergies, asthma, arthritis, or skin conditions
  • Are lactose intolerant
  • If you have a disease such as celiac disease or inflammatory bowel disease that affects the digestive system—these diseases can decrease your body’s ability to absorb calcium
  • If your sodium and/or protein consumption is very high, as this may lead to more calcium excretion

If any of these apply to you, you could have or be at risk of a calcium deficiency. If that’s the case and you’re not getting enough naturally from your diet, then taking a calcium supplement might be necessary.

 

How to Take Calcium Supplements for Best Absorption

In order for the body to absorb calcium, it needs vitamin D and magnesium.

You can get vitamin D from being out in the sun or from supplements.

If you don’t get much sun or you live in a cold climate where there’s not much sunlight during the day, it’s a good idea to choose a supplement containing both calcium and vitamin D. Another option is to take a separate vitamin D supplement.

However way you do it, it’s important to get that vitamin D along with calcium because otherwise, the body can’t produce calcitriol (also known as the “active form” of vitamin D).

You can get magnesium in your diet from foods such as green leafy vegetables, other vegetables, fruits, nuts and more. You can also get it by taking a magnesium supplement or by choosing a calcium supplement that contains it as well.

 

#1: Best Overall Calcium Supplement: Nature’s Way Calcium Mag & D Complex

Image of a bottle of Nature's Way Calcium Mag & Vitamin D Complex, the best calcium supplement

For a good general calcium supplement that many people can safely take daily, Nature’s Way Calcium Mag & D Complex is a great option.

With 500 mg of calcium (50% daily value), 200 IU of vitamin D3 (50% daily value), and 250 mg of magnesium (63% daily value), this supplement has lower levels of these vitamins/minerals than you’ll find in a lot of other supplements. For daily use, that’s actually a good thing, because it leaves room for the rest that you’ll get from food.

With this supplement, you get the bone health benefits from the calcium plus having your body actually be able to absorb it properly because of the magnesium and vitamin D.

This product comes with 250 capsules, which is a great deal for what it’s priced at. Unfortunately, a serving size is 3 capsules, which is a bit inconvenient but it’s very common among this type of supplement. A bottle, therefore, has 83 servings.

Aside from having to take 3 pills for a serving, we don’t like that it comes in a bovine-based gelatin capsule.

Pros:

  • Contains 500 mg of calcium
  • Contains 200 IU of vitamin D3 for optimal absorption
  • Contains 250 mg of magnesium for optimal absorption
  • Promotes strong bones

Cons:

  • You have to take 3 pills for a serving
  • Not suitable for vegans

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#2: Best Calcium Supplement for Osteoporosis/Osteopenia: NOW Foods Calcium & Magnesium with Vitamin D-3 and Zinc

Image of a bottle of the best calcium supplement for osteoporosis/osteopenia, NOW Magnesium & Calcium

If your doctor has diagnosed you with osteoporosis or osteopenia (which can only be determined through a bone density test), then you need higher levels of calcium to get your bones back to their strongest potential.

With NOW Foods’ Calcium & Magnesium with Vitamin D-3 and Zinc, you get a potent dose of calcium along with magnesium and vitamin D, which are necessary for calcium to be properly absorbed.

More specifically, it contains:

  • 1,000 mg of calcium, 77-100% of the daily value depending on your age and situation
  • 600 IU of vitamin D3, 75% daily value
  • 500 mg of magnesium, 119% daily value
  • 10 mg of zinc, 91% daily value

The potent dose of calcium with vitamin D/magnesium for optimal absorption makes this supplement well-formulated for bone and teeth strength.

The only two things we don’t like about this supplement is that a serving size is 3 capsules and it contains gelatin from a bovine source so it’s not suitable for strict vegans.

You can buy it with 120 softgels or 240.

Pros:

  • Smart formula that contains calcium, magnesium and vitamin D for optimal absorption
  • Contains potent doses for addressing osteoporosis/osteopenia
  • Leaves some room left over for the vitamins/minerals that you’ll get from your diet

Cons:

  • You have to take 3 pills for a serving
  • Not suitable for vegans

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#3: Best Calcium Magnesium Supplement: Nature Made Calcium, Magnesium & Zinc w/Vitamin D

Image of a bottle of the best calcium magnesium supplement, NatureMade Calcium Magnesium & Zinc with Vitamin D3

After assessing the options on the market, our choice for the best calcium-magnesium supplement is Nature Made’s Calcium, Magnesium & Zinc w/Vitamin D. This supplement is made of high-quality ingredients and doesn’t go overboard with the dosages.

As we mentioned briefly before, there’s good reason to take calcium and magnesium together. According to Doctor Carolyn Dean, “if we consume too much calcium without sufficient magnesium, the excess calcium is not utilized correctly and may actually become toxic, causing painful conditions such as some forms of arthritis, kidney stones, osteoporosis and calcification of the arteries leading to heart attack and cardiovascular disease”.

This Nature Made’s supplement contains:

  • 200 IU of vitamin D3 (50% daily value)
  • 333 mg of calcium (33% daily value)
  • 133 mg of magnesium (33% daily value) and;
  • 5 mg of zinc (33% daily value)

This combination of vitamins and nutrients is a good combination for not just bone health, but for muscular and joint health as well.

The calcium along with the vitamin D and magnesium makes for better absorption and ultimately better bone health.

This supplement, unfortunately, contains an artificial color. It also contains gelatin, which you may not like if you’re vegan.

Pros:

  • Good formula
  • High-quality ingredients
  • Combination of vitamins/minerals promotes optimal absorption
  • Leaves room to get the rest of the included vitamins/minerals, which you will invariably get from your diet

Cons:

  • Contains additives
  • Not suitable for strict vegans

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#4: Best Calcium Supplement for Kids: Natures Plus Animal Parade Source of Life Calcium Children’s Chewable

Image of a bottle of the best calcium supplement for kids, Nature's Plus Calcium

Calcium is vitally important for growing children. A calcium supplement helps ensure that your kids get enough to make their bones strong and provide support during their rapid growth.

As the name implies, Natures Plus Animal Parade Source of Life Calcium Children’s Chewable comes in animal-shaped chewable tablets that taste great (as long as your little one likes vanilla flavor).

It contains 250 mg of calcium, which is 31% of the daily value for children under the age of 4 and 25% of the daily value for children over the age of 4. It also contains 50 mg of magnesium, which is 25% of the daily value for children under 4 and 13% for children 4 and older.

This supplement is manufactured in an FDA-approved, GMP (Good Manufacturing Practice) facility, which gives you the peace of mind that it’s safe to give to your kids.

We like this product because there’s no sugar in it but kids still like the taste.

Pros:

  • Comes in chewable tablets
  • Yummy vanilla taste for kids
  • Comes with magnesium for better absorption
  • Made in a GMP facility
  • No Sugar

Cons:

  • The tablets have a very strong vanilla flavor and if your kid doesn’t like it, it doesn’t come in other flavor options
  • Chalky consistency

Alternative option: Does your kid prefer gummies? L’il Critters Calcium Gummy Bears with Vitamin D3 is a similar product but comes in gummy form. We’re not quite as big a fan of this supplement because it contains sugar, but it’s a small amount and sometimes kids need a little sugar to persuade them to take their vitamins. Just be sure to have them take it before brushing their teeth for the day so the sugar doesn’t harm their teeth.

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#5: Best Calcium Supplement for Pregnancy: Nature Made Calcium (Carbonate) 600 mg w/D3 400 IU

Image of a bottle of NatureMade 600 mg Calcium, the best calcium supplement for pregnancy

Normally, women are recommended to get 1,000 mg of calcium in their diet per day. For pregnant women, however, the recommended daily calcium intake is at least 1200 mg a day.

At 600 mg of calcium, Nature Made Calcium (Carbonate) 600 mg w/D3 400 IU provides half of the daily recommended value for pregnant women. This supplement pairs well with a prenatal vitamin such as Mama Bird’s Prenatal Vitamin, which has 100 mg. It’s good to leave some room leftover, as it’s very likely you’ll get the additional calcium from your diet and that’s where you should aim to get most of your vitamins and nutrients anyway.

This supplement also contains 100% of the recommended vitamin D3, which is necessary for optimal calcium absorption, and also just good for you, especially during the winter time or if you don’t get much sun.

Like the other Nature Made supplement on our list, this one, unfortunately, contains an animal-based gelatin, so it’s not suitable for vegans.

Pros:

  • Contains a good amount of calcium for pregnant women (it’s suitable for other people as well)
  • The included vitamin D promotes optimal calcium absorption
  • Leaves room left over for you to get calcium as part of your diet from food
  • Pairs well with prenatal vitamins that have lower doses of calcium

Cons:

  • Not suitable for vegans
  • Come in very large pills so some may have difficulty swallowing them

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Best Time to Take Calcium Supplements

Taking calcium supplements with food improves absorption and reduces the risk of kidney stones, so with a meal is the best time to take calcium supplements. It’s also difficult for the body to process and absorb large amounts of calcium at one time, so it’s a good idea to choose a calcium supplement that breaks up a serving size into two or more doses which you can take with separate meals throughout the day.

You should be aware, too, that calcium supplements may interact with other medications so if you’re on any you should talk with your doctor about whether it’s OK to take them together or if you should do so separately.

 

Conclusion

When it comes to supplementing with calcium, it’s important that we reiterate that you’ve got to make sure you’re getting enough vitamin D and magnesium along with it. Otherwise, your body just isn’t going to be able to absorb and process the calcium correctly.

So whatever calcium supplement you end up choosing, you should be making sure that it either contains vitamin D and magnesium as well or that you’ll be able to get it from your diet.

For calcium, a one-size-fits-all approach may be appropriate for you and your health situation, such as Nature’s Way Calcium Mag & D Complex. On the other hand, your specific situation may call for a more specific approach and type of calcium supplement, which is for you and your doctor to determine.

Do you have experience with any of the supplements on our list? We’d like to hear from you in the comments section.

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