Best Calcium Supplements of 2023: Dietitian-Approved Supplements for Boosting Bone Health

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Athletes are often interested in optimizing their diet for the best overall health and performance. But, it’s important not to discount the importance of introducing vitamins and other supplements into your routine to ensure your diet is as well-rounded as possible.

Calcium is a mineral critical for everyone, especially athletes and those who regularly participate in physical activity. It’s important to keep your bones and tissues strong to help fight against osteoporosis and weak bones. That’s why taking the best calcium supplements is helpful when your diet alone doesn’t meet your recommended calcium intake.

But, which calcium supplements are best to take? We rounded up our favorite picks to help you find the right calcium supplement. This review will help you understand why it’s important to get enough calcium, the recommended daily amounts, and how to find the right supplement.

Best Calcium Supplements - Our Top Picks

Why Trust Us?

The health and safety of ACTIVE's readers are of the utmost importance to us. To ensure your well-being when consuming calcium supplements, the ACTIVE.com editorial team prioritizes products that are independently tested by a third party. We've also consulted with a team of nutritionists and dieticians to ensure the products we feature are of the highest standard. This helps us create the most accurate, authentic review content for our readers.

Featured Calcium Supplement - Metagenics Bone Builder® with Magnesium

Metagenics Bone Builder with Magnesium

SPECS

  • Price: $$$
  • Flavor options: N/A
  • Form: Tablets
  • Serving size: 3 tablets
  • Calcium per serving: 620mg
  • Other Vitamins: 600 IU vitamin D

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The Metagenics Bone Builder with Magnesium is a great choice for a calcium supplement for people who want to support their overall bone health as they stay active. In addition to containing 620 milligrams of calcium, this supplement also provides other important vitamins and minerals for bone health.

This supplement also has 600 IU of vitamin D, 350 milligrams of phosphorus, and 300 milligrams of magnesium in three tablets. Notably, some of the calcium and phosphorus in this supplement come from microcrystalline hydroxyapatite concentrate (MCHC), which is derived from natural bones.

This supplement is non-GMO and gluten-free. Metagenics uses several quality-control measures, such as robust internal testing and participation in the USP-good manufacturing process audit program. Consumers can view internal testing results for each lot number on the company's website

What We Like

  • Provides 620mg calcium and additional minerals
  • 600 IU vitamin D per serving
  • Several quality control measures are in place to ensure the quality and safety of supplements

What We Don't Like

  • 3 tablet serving size
  • Contains a few filler ingredients, such as cellulose and sodium starch glycolate

BUY: Metagenics Bone Builder with Magnesium


Best Overall Calcium Supplement - ZAHLER PowerCal Comprehensive Calcium Formula

ZAHLER PowerCal Comprehensive Calcium Formula

SPECS

  • Price: $
  • Flavor options: N/A
  • Form: Tablets
  • Serving size: 4
  • Calcium per serving: 1000 mg
  • Other vitamins: 400 IU Vitamin D

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Ideal for meeting the daily calcium needs of most people, the Zahler PowerCal Comprehensive Calcium supplement provides 1000 milligrams per day of calcium from a combination of calcium citrate and calcium carbonate. It also contains 400 IU of Vitamin D per serving (100% of the Daily Value) and magnesium. A magnesium deficiency predisposes people to osteopenia, osteoporosis, and bone fractures.

For the best absorption of calcium, the company recommends taking two tablets at a time with food, so you should take this supplement twice daily. If you have special diet considerations, this product can still work for you, as it is kosher, non-GMO, dairy-free, and soy free. We also like that the Zahler supplement is produced in a Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) certified facility, which helps ensure its quality.

What We Like

  • Provides 1000mg calcium and additional minerals
  • 2 sources of calcium, calcium citrate, and calcium carbonate
  • 400 IU vitamin D per serving

What We Don't Like

  • 4-tablet serving size
  • Contains a few filler ingredients, such as cellulose and silicon dioxide

BUY: ZAHLER PowerCal Comprehensive Calcium Formula


Best Calcium Citrate Supplement - NOW Calcium Citrate

NOW Calcium Citrate

SPECS

  • Price: $
  • Flavor options: N/A
  • Form: Tablets
  • Serving size: 2 tablets
  • Calcium per serving: 600mg
  • Other vitamins: 400 IU vitamin D

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NOW is a well-known brand in the supplement space and is known for making quality products that are produced in a GMP-certified facility. Although this supplement contains less than the RDA of calcium per serving for most people, it can be helpful if you already consume some food sources of calcium and just need to add more calcium to your diet. It also contains 400 IU of Vitamin D, which meets the RDA, plus it contains additional minerals from magnesium, copper, zinc, and manganese.

All calcium in this supplement is from calcium citrate. Calcium citrate is absorbed well by the body, so it's a great choice for a calcium source. We also like that NOW uses a plant-based formula, so it's suitable for vegetarians and vegans.

What We Like

  • Suitable for vegetarians and vegans
  • 300mg calcium per tablet from calcium citrate
  • Produced in a GMP facility
  • Contains the minerals copper, magnesium, zinc, and manganese

What We Don't Like

  • 1 serving doesn’t meet the RDA for calcium, which may be a problem if you don't already eat some sources of calcium

BUY: NOW Calcium Citrate


Best Organic Calcium Supplement - Garden of Life mykind organics plant calcium

Garden of Life mykind Organics Plant Calcium

SPECS

  • Price: $$
  • Flavor options: N/A
  • Form: Tablets
  • Serving size: 3 tablets
  • Calcium per serving: 800mg
  • Other vitamins: Vitamin D, Vitamin K2

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If you’re looking for a natural way to meet your calcium needs, the Garden of Life mykind Organic Plant supplement might be a good choice for you. This calcium supplement contains a type of calcium that’s derived from plants, including calcium from over 20 fruits and vegetables.

This supplement is also certified USDA organic, gluten-free, non-GMO, and kosher, so it should work for many diet restrictions. The Garden of Life supplements provide most of the RDA for calcium per day, plus greater than 100% of the RDA for vitamin D.

What We Like

  • 1000 IU Vitamin D
  • 800mg calcium from plants
  • Great option for people who follow a vegan diet or simply want a plant-based supplement.
  • Suitable for people who only want plant-based options

What We Don't Like

  • Not third-party tested
  • More costly than other brands

BUY: Garden of Life mykind organics Plant Calcium


Best Calcium Supplement for Bone Health - NOW Calcium and Magnesium

NOW Calcium and Magnesium

SPECS

  • Price: $
  • Flavor options: N/A
  • Form: Softgel
  • Serving size: 2 softgel tablets
  • Calcium per serving: 1000mg
  • Other vitamins: None listed

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For those concerned about staying on top of their bone health, this NOW Foods supplement provides 1000 milligrams of calcium and 500 mg of magnesium, which meets the RDA for calcium for many adults. We also like that this supplement provides greater than 100% of the RDA for magnesium. It contains three sources of calcium (calcium citrate, calcium carbonate, and calcium ascorbate) and magnesium (magnesium oxide, citrate, and magnesium ascorbate). Both calcium and magnesium are essential minerals for bone health.

And, if you’re concerned about quality, this supplement is made in a GMP facility, plus it’s gluten-free, dairy-free, kosher, and suitable for vegans and vegetarians.

What We Like

  • 1000 mg of calcium from 3 sources
  • Magnesium added for skeletal health
  • Only 2 tablets per day

What We Don't Like

  • Doesn’t contain vitamin D

BUY: NOW Calcium and Magnesium


Best Chewable Calcium Supplement - GNC Calcium Citrate Soft Chews

GNC Calcium Citrate Soft Chews

SPECS

  • Price: $
  • Flavor options: Berries and Cream or Caramel, but flavors sold separately
  • Form: Chew
  • Serving size: 1 soft chew
  • Calcium per serving: 500 mg
  • Other vitamins: Vitamin D, vitamin K2

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Not a fan of taking pills? In that case, we recommend the GNC Calcium Citrate Soft Chews. Each chew provides 500 mg of calcium citrate which is a bioavailable calcium source (that means it’s better absorbed by the body). In addition, it provides 800 IU of Vitamin D and Vitamin K, both of which support bone health.

The instructions suggest you can take one to two chews per day. However, one 500 milligram serving of supplemental calcium is probably adequate for people who already eat some sources of dairy or drink cow's milk consistently. These chews also come individually wrapped, so they're easy to keep in your gym bag or purse to take them on the go.

What We Like

  • An accessible option for people who dislike pills and capsules
  • 800 IU Vitamin D
  • Chews come in tasty flavors

What We Don't Like

  • 1 package only contains a 30-day supply

BUY: GNC Calcium Citrate Soft Chews


Best High-Dose Calcium Supplement - Garden of Life Dr. Formulated Calcium

Garden of Life Dr. Formulated Calcium

SPECS

  • Price: $
  • Flavor options: N/A
  • Form: Tablets
  • Serving size: 5 tablets
  • Calcium per serving: 1300mg
  • Other vitamins: Vitamin D, vitamin K2

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If you don’t eat many food sources of calcium, then you might benefit from a high-dose calcium supplement like the Garden of Life Dr. Formulated Supplement. It provides 1300 milligrams of calcium per serving which fulfills your daily calcium needs. In addition, it contains 800 IU of vitamin D and vitamin K.

We like that this supplement is USDA-certified organic, non-GMO, and gluten-free. Also keep in mind that the calcium source is egg shells, so people with egg allergies should avoid this product.

What We Like

  • Meets 100% of the RDA for calcium
  • for menopausal women and people over age 70
  • Contains 800 IU of Vitamin D
  • Contains a bioavailable form of calcium

What We Don't Like

  • 5 tablets (one serving size) is a large quantity to fit into your daily routine
  • Calcium source is egg shells, so not suitable for people with an egg allergy or plant-based diets

BUY: Garden of Life Dr. Formulated Calcium


What is Calcium?

Calcium is a mineral that’s vital to many body functions. Primarily found in the bones and teeth, it’s the most abundant mineral found in the human body. Small amounts of calcium are also found in the blood, muscles, and tissues outside the bones and teeth. Vitamin D helps with calcium absorption, so it's also key to consume adequate amounts of vitamin D and calcium.

Benefits of Calcium Supplements

Meeting your recommended calcium intake comes with many benefits. Some of these include:

  • Solid structure for bones and teeth
  • Strengthens bones and teeth
  • Keeps tissues strong and rigid
  • Improves with muscle function
  • Helps with growth; children need adequate calcium to reach their full height potential

Who Should Consider Calcium Supplements

  • Athletes: Active people don't necessarily have higher calcium needs but they do need to make sure they consume enough calcium for bone and tissue health.
  • Women after menopause: Women lose about 1% of their bone density every year after menopause. This is because estrogen levels start to decline, which leads to less calcium absorption. More calcium is lost in the urine after estrogen production decreases, too. Postmenopausal women have higher recommended calcium intakes to combat the loss of bone mass.
  • People with diets low in calcium: This could include people with a dairy allergy, vegans, vegetarians, people who can't tolerate lactose, or people who don't enjoy dairy products or calcium-fortified foods in general. There are non-dairy and vegan food sources of calcium for these groups of people, but a calcium supplement may still be needed.
  • People over age 70: Calcium needs are higher after age 70 because bone loss increases for both men and women as they age.
  • People restricting calories: If you’re decreasing your calorie intake to try to lose weight, you're likely reducing your overall intake of vitamins and minerals. As a result, you may need a calcium supplement to meet your needs.

How Much Calcium Per Day Should I Take?

The amount of calcium that you need from a supplement depends on how much calcium you routinely get from your diet alone. If you eat foods rich in calcium daily, you may not need a calcium supplement. Calcium needs are not higher for athletes typically, but you should still ensure to meet the recommended amount for your age group.

The United States Food and Nutrition Board publishes recommended amounts for vitamins and minerals. The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) is the average daily level of intake that meets the nutrient requirement for almost all healthy people. The RDAs for calcium for various adult groups are below:

  • Women and men (19 - 50): 1000 milligrams (mg) per day
  • Men (51 - 70): 1000 mg per day
  • Women (51 - 70): 1200 mg per day
  • Women and men (70+ years old): 1200 mg per day

Note that women and men have the same calcium requirements per day except between the ages of 51 and 70 years of age. Calcium needs for breastfeeding or pregnant women are not higher, but it's important to ensure that the RDA for calcium for their age group is still met.

Best Food Sources of Calcium

The following types of foods and drinks are good dietary sources of calcium:

  • Cow's milk dairy products, such as yogurt, milk, cottage cheese, cheese
  • Fortified plant-milk products, like soy, almond, or oat milk
  • Dark green leafy vegetables, such as kale and broccoli
  • Calcium-fortified foods, such as cereal and orange juice
  • Canned fish with edible bones like salmon

FAQS About Calcium Supplements


What is the Best Form of Calcium to Take?

Most supplements contain either calcium carbonate or calcium citrate. Calcium carbonate requires more stomach acid to absorb, so calcium citrate is better for people with low stomach acid levels. Calcium citrate is probably the best form of calcium if you're unsure where you fall on this. Either way, it's a best practice to take a calcium supplement with food to give it the best chance to absorb. If you dislike taking pills, consider buying a calcium chew, as the serving size for calcium supplements is usually two or more per serving.

Which Calcium is Best for Bones?

Calcium citrate and calcium carbonate are both common forms of calcium in supplements. Both have bone health benefits, but calcium carbonate is better to take with meals since it requires stomach acid to help it absorb. A calcium supplement containing Vitamin D is a good choice because Vitamin D helps calcium absorb. A supplement that contains magnesium may also be a good choice for your bone health, though supplemental magnesium is most helpful if you have a magnesium deficiency.

How Do I Choose a Calcium Supplement?

Consider your diet preferences, if the size of the capsule matters to you, and how much calcium you need per day. Calcium supplements come in various sizes and doses, so consider the size and number of tablets or capsules you may have to take per day. The amount per tablet or pill varies from brand to brand. If you eat some sources of calcium regularly but likely don't meet the full RDA, you could take a calcium supplement with about half of the RDA for your age group to ensure you meet the goal.

What Are the Symptoms of a Calcium Deficiency?

It's difficult to tell if you have a calcium deficiency without lab testing unless the deficiency is severe. A typical calcium deficiency symptom is decreased bone strength which leads to weaker bones and osteoporosis. Symptoms of severe calcium deficiency include irritability, tingling in the hands and feet, increased heart rate, muscle spasms, and neurologic symptoms, so if you’re experiencing any of these symptoms you might want to get your calcium levels checked.

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These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

About the Author

Alexandra Ginos, MBA, RD, CSP

Alexandra Ginos is a registered dietitian and board-certified Pediatric Nutrition Specialist. She believes that nutrition is a vital component of physical performance and that a balanced and healthy diet is an essential part of taking care of the body and mind.

See more from Alexandra

Alexandra Ginos is a registered dietitian and board-certified Pediatric Nutrition Specialist. She believes that nutrition is a vital component of physical performance and that a balanced and healthy diet is an essential part of taking care of the body and mind.

See more from Alexandra

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