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Differences Between Calcium Citrate and Calcium Carbonate

Calcium Citrate vs. Calcium Carbonate

calcium citrate and calcium carbonate, purple arrowWhat Are The Differences Between Calcium Citrate and Calcium Carbonate?

For those that have struggled with obesity, bariatric surgery is a life-saving treatment that can improve your quality of life and your overall health. It is universally recommended by doctors, researchers, and countless obesity specialists, with an excellent success rate among millions of patients.

But it does require some lifestyle changes, and one such change is the need for supplementation. Weight loss surgery leads to less food intake, significant changes in digestion, and a drastically different diet that all affect the vitamins and minerals your body is consuming and processing.


calcium citrate and calcium carbonate, green arrowCalcium After Bariatric Surgery

One such nutrient that requires supplementation is calcium. It is strongly recommended that all weight loss surgery patients take supplementary calcium regularly in order to maintain their bone health, improve their muscle health, and more. Any form of calcium is better than no calcium at all, but traditionally there are two types of dietary calcium to choose from:
  • Calcium Citrate
  • Calcium Carbonate

Supplementation of any form of calcium is better than no calcium at all. But it is in your best interests to find the type of calcium that will respond better in your body. According to most research, that form is calcium citrate.


calcium citrate and calcium carbonate, green arrowThe Two Types of Calcium Supplement

Calcium comes in more than one form. One form is calcium carbonate. This type of calcium is found all over the environment, in limestone, egg shells, and chalk. It is then extracted from these items (usually from egg shells, oyster shells, and other food-based products) and then turned into a supplement that provides calcium for the body.

Calcium citrate, on the other hand, is derived from citric acid fermentation. While citric acid is best known for its presence in several types of fruits, including oranges, lemons, and limes, it can also be created using various chemical processes from sugar. The process to create calcium citrate is more expensive than calcium carbonate, which is why calcium carbonate is more common, but calcium citrate is also a popular form of calcium supplement.


calcium citrate and calcium carbonate, green arrowWhat is the Difference?

The primary difference between the two supplements, and why calcium citrate is a better choice for post-bariatric patients, has to do with their acidity.

Calcium carbonate is an “alkaline” calcium, which means that it requires greater levels of stomach acid to break down and digest, and acts as an antacid. Those that have undergone bariatric surgery often have less stomach acid and less time for food to digest in the stomach and intestines, which means that calcium carbonate may not be digest fast enough.

In addition, its antacid properties can be dangerous if taken for a long period of time, and possibly cause a “rebound” effect that makes your body create more stomach acid than it needs. Finally, it must be taken with food, because food is what triggers your stomach to create stomach acid which is needed to break down the supplement.

Calcium Citrate, on the other hand, is low level acidic. It begins to process almost immediately upon reaching the stomach and is not known to change the body’s acidity levels. Calcium citrate also does not need to be taken with food, which means you can take it at any time of day. The supplements themselves are also smaller since they have more elemental calcium per gram.


calcium citrate and calcium carbonate, green arrowCalcium Citrate or Calcium Carbonate?

Overall, any form of calcium is better than no calcium. Supplementation is very important in post-bariatric patients. But calcium citrate has several additional advantages that calcium carbonate does not have, and in post-bariatric patients, these advantages are even more important.