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Is Calcium Lactate Bad For You?



Short answer

Calcium lactate is a versatile, generally safe supplement employed across food, pharmaceuticals, dentistry, and more. It provides calcium efficiently through higher solubility and bioavailability, beneficial for bone health and bodily functions. However, excessive intake can lead to hypercalcemia and interact negatively with various medications and nutrients. Oversight from a healthcare provider is recommended to manage intake and reduce potential side effects.



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Long answer

Understanding Calcium Lactate: Uses and Sources

Calcium lactate is a white crystalline salt made by the action of lactic acid on calcium carbonate. It is used in various industries, from food to pharmaceuticals, due to its versatility and beneficial properties. When discussing calcium lactate, it's crucial to cleave through the clutter of misinformation and zero in on validated data.

Uses of Calcium Lactate:

  • Food Industry: One of the most common uses of calcium lactate is as a firming agent. Whether it’s within canned fruits and vegetables or as an additive to prolong the shelf life of baked goods, its preservative qualities are well-documented. It also acts as a stabilizer and thickener, enhancing the texture of products like fermented dairy.
  • Pharmaceuticals: In the medical realm, calcium lactate is a source of calcium, used in treatments for conditions stemming from low calcium levels in the body, such as osteoporosis and hypocalcemia. It aids in nerve conduction, muscle contraction, and blood coagulation.
  • Supplements: It’s a prevalent ingredient in over-the-counter calcium supplements thanks to its high solubility and bioavailability, making it easier for the body to absorb.
  • Dentistry: Due to its ability to enhance tooth enamel, calcium lactate is occasionally found in chewing gums and oral rinses aimed at reducing dental caries and promoting oral health.

Sources of Calcium Lactate:

  • Natural Occurrence: Unlike some food additives, calcium lactate can occur naturally in fermented foods such as yogurt and kombucha, as a result of bacterial fermentation processes.
  • Commercial Production: Synthetic production involves neutralizing lactic acid with calcium carbonate or calcium hydroxide. The lactic acid is often derived from fermentation of cornstarch or sugar beets, making it a byproduct of other food processes.
  • Supplements and Fortified Foods: Besides being found in various forms of dietary supplements, calcium lactate is often added to fortified plant-based milk alternatives, fruit juices, and cereals, boosting their nutritional value.

In evaluating the use and sources of calcium lactate, it's indispensable to reference scientific literature. A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that the bioavailability of calcium from calcium lactate is comparable to that of calcium carbonate in humans, indicating its efficacy as a supplement. Additionally, the International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition highlighted that when used as an additive in foods, calcium lactate can enhance texture without significantly altering taste.

Scrutinizing the information and verifying it against academic research is paramount to ensure the validity of any claims associated with calcium lactate. What's evident is that calcium lactate serves multiple functions across different industries, and its presence as a source of calcium in products is secured by science, not by speculation or commercial puffery.

The Absorption and Bioavailability of Calcium Lactate

Understanding the absorption and bioavailability of calcium lactate is crucial to gauge its effectiveness as a dietary supplement. Calcium is a vital mineral for the maintenance of strong bones and teeth, as well as for crucial bodily functions like muscle contractions and nerve signaling. The body's ability to absorb and utilize calcium from various compounds, including calcium lactate, can be influenced by several factors.

Calcium Lactate Absorption Mechanism: Calcium lactate is a calcium salt of lactic acid. It's more soluble in water than some other calcium salts, which can enhance its absorption in the human digestive tract. Absorption commonly occurs in the small intestine, where it relies on the presence of active vitamin D. An optimal level of vitamin D is crucial, as it facilitates the production of calcium-binding proteins responsible for the efficient uptake of calcium into the bloodstream.

Factors Affecting Absorption: The bioavailability of calcium lactate can be affected by factors such as:

  • Age and Life Stage: Younger individuals and postmenopausal women may have different rates of calcium absorption.
  • Dietary Factors: The presence of phytates and oxalates in a diet can bind to calcium, reducing its absorption. Conversely, certain amino acids and lactose can enhance calcium absorption.
  • Physiological Conditions: The health of one's digestive system, such as gastric pH levels and gut mobility, can influence calcium absorption.

Bioavailability in Comparison with Other Forms: When compared to other forms of calcium supplementation, such as calcium carbonate or calcium citrate, calcium lactate exhibits moderate bioavailability. It does not require a highly acidic stomach environment for dissolution, making it a suitable option for individuals with reduced stomach acid production.

Clinical Studies and Expert Opinions: In clinical studies, calcium lactate has been found reasonably bioavailable. For instance, a study published in the 'Journal of the American College of Nutrition' suggests that calcium lactate is effectively absorbed in the human body, though not quite as efficiently as calcium citrate.

Research also points out the efficiency of calcium lactate as a fortifying agent in foods. The 'Journal of Food Science' indicates that calcium lactate could be a valuable additive in fortifying fruit and vegetable products due to its high solubility and neutral taste.

Calcium Absorption Enhancers: The presence of certain nutrients can boost calcium absorption from calcium lactate:

  • Vitamin D: As previously mentioned, it plays a pivotal role in regulating calcium metabolism and absorption.
  • Magnesium: Essential for vitamin D synthesis, and it can improve the bioavailability of calcium.
  • Vitamin K: Necessary for the activation of osteocalcin, a protein that binds calcium to the bone matrix.

Overall Absorption Efficiency: While calcium lactate is not the most potent form of calcium, regarding elemental calcium content, it presents an advantage in terms of its highly soluble nature and moderate absorption efficiency. Thus, it can be a beneficial calcium source for those who might not tolerate other forms well or who have milder requirements for supplementation.

Ultimately, when considering the use of calcium lactate supplements, individuals should consult with healthcare providers to account for personal health needs and nutritional status, ensuring the choice aligns with their physiological requirements and dietary patterns.

Potential Side Effects of Calcium Lactate Supplementation

While calcium lactate is widely used as a calcium supplement and generally considered safe for most individuals when taken as directed, it's essential to acknowledge that it can cause adverse effects in some cases. The potential side effects range from mild to severe and should be understood before adding any supplement to your regimen. Here's a look at some of the possible side effects associated with calcium lactate:

  • Gastrointestinal Issues: A common reaction to calcium supplementation is gastrointestinal discomfort. Symptoms may include bloating, gas, constipation, or, less commonly, diarrhea. Such effects often occur when supplements are taken on an empty stomach or in large doses.
  • Hypercalcemia: Excessive intake of calcium lactate can lead to hypercalcemia – a condition characterized by abnormally high levels of calcium in the blood. Symptoms of hypercalcemia can include nausea, vomiting, weakness, and frequent urination. In severe cases, it can cause confusion, cardiac arrhythmias, or kidney stones.
  • Interactions with Medications: Calcium lactate can interact with various medications, impacting their absorption and efficacy. For instance, it can decrease the absorption of certain antibiotics and thyroid medications. Always consult your healthcare provider before starting calcium supplements if you're on medication.
  • Increased Risk of Kidney Stones: If you have a history of kidney stones, calcium supplements like calcium lactate might increase your risk of developing stones again, though evidence on this risk is mixed. People with this history should consult with a healthcare professional before supplementing with calcium.
  • Allergic Reactions: Though rare, some individuals may experience an allergic reaction to calcium lactate. Allergic reaction symptoms can include hives, itching, difficulty breathing, and swelling of the face, lips, tongue, or throat. If you experience these symptomatic responses after taking calcium lactate, seek immediate medical attention.

Furthermore, the side effects often depend on individual factors such as age, health status, and concurrent use of other supplements or medications. For example, the elderly may be more susceptible to the effects of hypercalcemia due to their typically reduced ability to regulate calcium levels.

Scientific studies examining the safety profile of calcium supplements, including calcium lactate, provide some insight into the risks. For instance, a review published in the British Medical Journal suggested that calcium supplements might be associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular events, although this is still a matter of ongoing debate and research.

Most health organizations recommend obtaining calcium from dietary sources first and foremost. However, if supplementation is necessary, it's important to adhere to recommended dosages and to discuss the advisability of calcium lactate supplementation with healthcare professionals, especially for those with existing health conditions or concerns.

In conclusion, while calcium lactate is a generally safe and commonly used supplement for correcting calcium deficiencies, potential side effects should be recognized. Consuming the supplement responsibly and under the guidance of a healthcare provider is crucial to mitigate these risks.

Risk of Excessive Calcium Intake from Supplements

Excessive calcium intake, particularly from supplements like calcium lactate, can lead to several health issues, a concern that should not be taken lightly. The body needs calcium for critical functions such as bone health and nerve transmission, but the keyword here is 'balance.' Beyond the daily recommended intake, calcium can become more of a foe than a friend.

One of the primary risks associated with excessive calcium from supplements is hypercalcemia, a condition characterized by abnormally high levels of calcium in the blood. According to a study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, hypercalcemia can result in nausea, vomiting, confusion, and in severe cases, cardiac arrhythmias.

Long-term excessive calcium intake has been linked to kidney stone formation. The National Kidney Foundation notes that excess calcium can combine with other waste products to form stones. Those who consume high amounts of calcium, particularly from supplements, are at a higher risk.

There is also a discussion in the medical community about the association between excessive calcium supplementation and heart disease. A metanalysis in BMJ suggested that calcium supplements without coadministered vitamin D are associated with an increased risk of myocardial infarction. Although these findings warrant careful consideration, they underscore the importance of not exceeding recommended dosages without medical supervision.

Additionally, excessive calcium can interfere with the absorption of other vital minerals. Magnesium, for instance, can be adversely affected, as it competes with calcium for absorption. Excessive calcium can thus lead to a magnesium deficiency, which, according to a review in Magnesium Research, can have profound impacts on cardiovascular health.

To mitigate risks associated with high calcium intake from supplements, the Institute of Medicine recommends an upper limit of calcium intake for different age groups. Adhering to these guidelines can help prevent the potential adverse effects of excessive calcium:

Age Group Upper Limit of Calcium (mg/day)
1-8 years 2,500
9-18 years 3,000
19-50 years 2,500
51+ years 2,000

It's crucial for individuals to evaluate their dietary calcium intake and consult with healthcare providers before starting supplementation. This is particularly important for those with a history of kidney stones, hyperparathyroidism, or other conditions that can be exacerbated by excessive calcium levels.

Interactions with Medications and Other Nutrients

Calcium lactate is broadly used as a calcium supplement or a food additive to fortify various products. While it’s generally safe for the average person, it’s crucial to understand its potential interactions with certain medications and nutrients. These interactions can affect the efficacy of your medications and alter the absorption of calcium and other minerals.

Interaction with Medications:

  • Antibiotics: Calcium lactate can bind to certain antibiotics—particularly tetracycline and quinolone classes—decreasing their absorption and efficacy. It is advised to take these antibiotics at least 2-4 hours before or 4-6 hours after calcium consumption.
  • Bisphosphonates: Used for treating osteoporosis, bisphosphonates absorption is reduced when taken close to the time of calcium intake. Following a similar timeframe as with antibiotics is suggested to avoid this interaction.
  • Thyroid Medication: Levothyroxine, a common thyroid medication, can have its absorption hindered by calcium lactate if taken concurrently. Separating the intake of the two by several hours is essential.
  • Medications for Heart Conditions: Calcium lactate can interact with certain heart medications, including beta-blockers and calcium channel blockers, potentially affecting their function. Consultation with a healthcare provider is essential when combining these treatments.

Interaction with Other Nutrients:

  • Iron: Calcium and iron compete for absorption in the body. High calcium intake can reduce the iron absorption rate, which may be a concern for individuals at risk of iron deficiency.
  • Magnesium: Similar to iron, calcium can interfere with magnesium absorption. Since both minerals are vital for several biological processes, it’s important to balance their intake or consume them at different times.
  • Zinc: Excessive calcium consumption can impair zinc absorption, another essential trace mineral. People using supplements should monitor their intake appropriately.
  • Other Minerals: A high intake of calcium can also affect the absorption of minerals like manganese and copper, potentially leading to deficiencies if not managed correctly.

Additionally, it's worth noting that vitamin D substantially increases calcium absorption. Hence, those supplementing with calcium lactate should also consider their vitamin D levels to ensure proper calcium utilization.

It is always recommended to consult a healthcare professional before taking calcium lactate, especially if you are on medications or have a health condition that could be affected by altered mineral levels. A tailored approach to supplementation can help in circumventing these interaction issues and ensure optimal health benefits.

Relevant Studies and Expert Opinions:

  • Study from "Journal of Clinical Pharmacology" highlighting the decrease in antibiotic efficacy due to calcium binding.
  • Advice from the "American Thyroid Association" regarding the timing of thyroid medication and calcium intake.
  • Research by "Journal of the American College of Nutrition" examining the impact of calcium on iron absorption.

The key takeaway is that while calcium lactate is a beneficial supplement, it's not devoid of interactions. Proper timing and consultation with a healthcare professional can mitigate the risk of unwanted interactions.

Calcium Lactate vs. Other Calcium Salts: Health Implications

When encountering the plethora of calcium supplements on the market, it's crucial to differentiate between calcium lactate and other calcium salts. While all forms have the noble intention of shoring up our skeletal framework and fortifying various physiological functions, they differ in bioavailability, side effects, and appropriate use cases.

Calcium Carbonate: The heavyweight in calcium content by volume, calcium carbonate is less pricey and requires fewer doses. However, its absorption hangs on the presence of stomach acid, making it less suitable for individuals with impaired digestion or those taking acid reducers. A well-cited study in the American Journal of Therapeutics showed that calcium carbonate's absorption was significantly higher in individuals with normal gastric acid production compared to those with hypochlorhydria.

Calcium Citrate: A more soluble choice and friendlier to those with stomach woes, calcium citrate does not rely on stomach acid for absorption. This adaptability comes at the cost of a lower calcium percentage per dose, nudging users towards a higher intake volume. The Journal of Bone and Mineral Research indicates a marginal edge of calcium citrate over carbonate in terms of bioavailability, especially when taken on an empty stomach.

Calcium Phosphate: Comparable to carbonate in terms of calcium provision, calcium phosphate is often the go-to for people prone to kidney stones since it's less likely to contribute to stone formation. A study in the Urological Research journal suggests that calcium phosphate presents a lower risk for stone formers because it does not increase oxalate levels, a common component of kidney stones.

Positioning calcium lactate in this matrix reveals a middle ground — it doesn't boast the highest amount of calcium, nor does it require acid for absorption, as seen in a comparative study in the Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences. It is gentle on the stomach like calcium citrate, yet not as potent in elemental calcium contribution.

Furthermore, individual health conditions dictate the choice of calcium salt. For instance, those with lactose intolerance may initially assume that calcium lactate, due to its name, is off-limits. However, this misunderstanding can lead to unnecessary dietary restrictions, as calcium lactate is actually lactose-free, making it a viable option.

Yet, the landscape of choice isn't only about absorption and stomach compatibility; certain calcium salts carry implications for cardiovascular health. Recent buzz within the scientific community, spawned by articles in BMJ and Journal of the American Heart Association, draws tentative connections between calcium supplements and increased cardiac event risks. It's paramount for future research to dissect if specific calcium salts contribute differently to these potential hazards.

In summary, when considering the health implications of calcium lactate versus other calcium salts, the aforementioned factors — bioavailability, gastrointestinal tolerance, individual health conditions, and potential cardiovascular impact — are critical in shaping an informed decision. This is not a one-size-fits-all scenario; what one might deem as the most beneficial calcium supplement largely depends on their unique health profile and dietary needs.

Frequently asked questions

Calcium lactate can be effective in preventing osteoporosis and supporting bone health due to its bioavailability. Although it may not contain the highest amount of elemental calcium compared to some other salts like calcium carbonate, its superior solubility and moderate absorption may make it a suitable option for individuals seeking to prevent osteoporosis, especially if they have digestive issues that affect absorption.

Calcium lactate can impact the absorption of other minerals such as iron, magnesium, and zinc, because it competes for absorption in the digestive tract. Excessive intake of calcium lactate may impair the absorption of these minerals, potentially leading to deficiencies. To minimize this risk, individuals should balance their intake of these minerals or consider the timing of their supplementation.

Yes, despite its name, calcium lactate does not contain lactose and is suitable for individuals with lactose intolerance. It is a calcium salt derived from lactic acid and does not involve the milk sugar lactose, therefore it does not trigger lactose intolerance symptoms.

Yes, individuals taking calcium channel blockers should use caution when supplementing with calcium lactate or any form of calcium. Calcium supplements can potentially interact with these medications, affecting their function. Consulting with healthcare providers for personalized advice is highly recommended before commencing supplementation.

Ask a question about Calcium Lactate and our team will publish the answer as soon as possible.

Possible short-term side effects

  • gastrointestinal issues
  • hypercalcemia
  • medication interactions
  • allergic reactions

Possible long-term side effects

  • increased risk of kidney stones
  • increased risk of cardiovascular events
  • mineral absorption interference

Ingredients to be aware of


  • supplements calcium deficiency
  • enhances tooth enamel
  • aids nerve conduction and muscle contraction
  • stabilizes and thickens food products

Healthier alternatives

  • dietary calcium sources (dairy, leafy greens, almonds)
  • vitamin d-rich foods
  • magnesium-rich foods

Our Wellness Pick (what is this?)

NOW Calcium Lactate

  • Supports bone health
  • Easy-to-swallow
  • High-quality supplement
  • 250 tablet count
Learn More!

Thank you for your feedback!

Written by Joey Conners
Published on: 12-14-2023

Thank you for your feedback!

Written by Joey Conners
Published on: 12-14-2023

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