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What is Elemental Calcium?

Two bottles of milk laying on a wooden table

We get asked a lot why there are two different amounts listed for the calcium in our Liquid Health Calcium product. There is an amount of calcium listed and then there’s an amount listed of “elemental calcium” – this is where people get confused. How can there be two different amounts of calcium in the same product? I decided to address this matter today by discussing what elemental calcium is.

To begin with, when talking about calcium supplementation, knowing what elemental calcium is and the recommend daily intakes it’s important to know that the number you’re being given is the amount of elemental calcium you should be getting each day. The reason being is that, the amount of element calcium is the amount that your body can actually absorb. Different forms of calcium are different percentages of elemental. For example, calcium carbonate is 40% elemental, meaning for everyone 1000 mg of calcium carbonate you take you’re getting 400 mg of calcium and 600 mg of carbonate. Calcium citrate, on the other hand, is 21% elemental, so for every 1000 mg you’re getting 210 mg of calcium.

Why, you ask, would you take any of the forms of calcium that have lower percentages of elemental calcium? Aside from knowing what elemental calcium is, it’s also important to know how your body reacts to the different forms of calcium. For example, people sometimes suffer from an upset stomach after taking calcium carbonate because of its dependence on stomach acid for absorption. Because of this, it’s usually recommended to take calcium carbonate with food. On the other hand, others find calcium citrate helpful if they have achlorhydria, inflammatory bowel disease, or absorption disorders because it is easier on their stomach. The different forms have different benefits and drawbacks.

Non-organic forms of calcium (such as calcium carbonate and calcium phosphate) have the highest levels of elemental calcium — 40% and 38%, respectively. These forms are the most commercially available forms of calcium due to their low cost and high elemental levels; however, they are the least absorbable and least beneficial to the body.

Organic forms of calcium are much more readily accepted and absorbed by the body, but have a higher cost and lower elemental level calcium. One of the most common forms of organic calcium is chelated. These include: calcium citrate, calcium malate, calcium amino acid chelate, calcium gluconate, and calcium lactate. These chelated calciums are bonded to amino acids so that the body will recognize if as food and absorb easier. Other forms of organic calcium can include those derived directly from vegetative sources such as seaweeds or algae. Liquid Health exclusively uses organic forms of calcium and minerals in its products to increase the effectiveness and absorption in the body.