5 Best Calcium Supplements for Strong Bones

Calcium is essential for strong bones and overall health, but it can be difficult to get enough Calcium in your diet.

After age 50, humans lose 1% of their bone density each year. However, most people don’t know they have low bone density until they break a bone.

Unfortunately, about 50% of people who break a hip bone in later life never fully recover.

In addition, if you lack of Calcium this means you are at risk for developing:

  • osteoporosis (a disease that causes the bones to become brittle)
  • rickets (a disease that results in weak and deformed bones)
  • osteomalacia (softening of the bone tissue)

To increase bone density and prevent these problems from happening, many different types of Calcium supplements are available that range in price and effectiveness.

In this blog post, we will discuss the 6 best Calcium supplements to choose from.

If you want more info on supplements – including risks and general FDA guidelines – please see our “Supplements and Vitamins – Ultimate Beginner’s Guide“.

How We Chose

Our selection criteria emphasizes information that directly helps with osteoporosis and other health concerns.

  • Price per Dose: Per dose pricing ensures prices of products are evaluated transparently.
  • Levels of Calcium and Vitamin D3: Vitamin D3 helps your body absorb Calcium. If you lack vitamin D3, then you won’t be able to absorb Calcium.
  • Additional Vitamins: Other vitamins such as K, magnesium and others may further help Calcium absorption.
  • Third Party Testing of Components: All the vitamins we list below have the endorsement from a well-recognized doctor or certification program such as the National Science Foundation (NSF) or USP. We’ve included links to these certification programs in the resources section at the bottom. 

We also include information about the type of supplement and whether the supplement is environmentally friendly. 

Beneath our list of best Calcium supplements, we’ve answered common questions. 

If you’re wondering about the differences between carbonate versus citrate, or if you want more information about the third party verification certifications (such as the USP or NSF) be sure to check out this section!

We believe you’ll find the following products useful.  Note if you buy using links on this page, we may earn a small 1-5% commission which helps support this channel.

1 – NatureMade (Can’t Go Wrong)  

Trusted, cheap and simple.

  • Price Per Dose: $0.15/dose
  • Levels of Calcium and Vitamin D3: 600 mg Calcium and 200 IU Vitamin D3
  • Additional Vitamins: None
  • Third Party Testing of Components: The United States Pharmacopeia (USP) has reviewed and verified the ingredients, potency, and manufacturing process. For more information direct links see below.

NatureMade has been around for a long time.  

In 1971, it became the first national vitamin brand in the United States to achieve United States Pharmacopeia (USP) certification on several of its goods.

We are putting the Nature Made Calcium Supplement as our top choice because it’s a familiar and safe choice for people who want a plain and simple supplement.

In a day and age where thousands of companies offer calcium supplements, many consumers’ best option is the simplest and safest.

For safety and simplicity, we rank NatureMade as our top choice.

Advantages:

  • Low cost per dose
  • Trusted well-known brand

Disadvantages:

  • No other vitamins or nutrients besides Calcium and vitamin D
  • No environmental emphasis
  • Carbonate (may need to be eaten with food, see section below for more info)

2 – Citracal (Slow Release)  

#1 rated Calcium supplement on Amazon.

  • Price Per Dose: $0.13/dose
  • Levels of Calcium and Vitamin D3: 1200 mg Calcium and 1000 IU Vitamin D3
  • Additional Vitamins: 80 mg Magnesium
  • Third Party Testing of Components: This product has been reviewed by EMPR, and Pharmacy Times, but is not on the NSF or USP verified list of supplements. For more info on EMPR and Pharmacy times see below.

We put Citracal as our second choice for several reasons.

Citrical has one of the highest levels of Calcium and Vitamin D3 from any of the supplements we’ve seen.

Normally consuming such a large dose of Calcium and Vitamin D3 would be ineffective because your body can only absorb around 500 mg of calcium every few hours. 

However, Citracal claims their single dose slowly and continuously releases small amounts of both Calcium and Vitamin D3 for efficient absorption. 

While their claims have not been verified by top third party certification services (USP and NSF – for more info see below) their product has been evaluated by second tier certification services (EMPR and Pharmacy Times).

Finally, Amazon lists over 500 calcium supplements and Citracal is their top rated product!

Advantages:

  • High dosage of both Calcium and vitamin D
  • Slow release technology
  • Very popular and highly rated 

Disadvantages:

  • No environmental emphasis

3 – Garden of Life (Whole Foods)

Blend of environmentally friendly whole foods ingredients.

  • Price Per Dose: $0.28/dose
  • Levels of Calcium and Vitamin D3: 1100 mg Calcium and 1600 IU Vitamin D3
  • Additional Vitamins: 357 mg Magnesium, 50 mcg Vitamin K, and probiotics to help support absorption and healthy digestion.
  • Third Party Testing of Components: This product has been reviewed by top certification program NSF, as well as USDA Organic and Carbon Free. For more info see resource list below.

Garden of Life calcium supplements are slightly more expensive per dose, however their other qualities more than make up.

Garden of Life has an extremely high amount of calcium and Vitamin D3 per dose, as well as other vitamins and minerals.

What really makes Garden of Life shine is their certifications from both industry leading NSF and environmentally friendly certifications like USDA and Carbon Free. 

Garden of Life calcium uniquely comes from AlgaeCal, a plant based organic type of calcium, which they claim helps with quick absorption.

Advantages:

  • High calcium per dose
  • Calcium from Algae
  • Certified from a variety of third party sources
  • Environmentally friendly

Disadvantages:

  • Lesser known
  • Quick absorption plus high dose means body won’t absorb all calcium (will need more than 1 dose)

4 – Viactiv (Soft Chews)

Tasty and #2 rated calcium supplement on Amazon.

  • Price Per Dose: $0.10/dose
  • Levels of Calcium and Vitamin D3: 650 mg Calcium and 500 IU Vitamin D3
  • Additional Vitamins: 40 mcg Vitamin K
  • Third Party Testing of Components: This product has not been reviewed by third party testing. 

Viactiv is a popular calcium supplement.

However, Viactiv is not verified by any major third party services, nor does it have an environmental emphasis.

So how did these chews make it onto our list?

Simple. Taste!

We had to include these soft chews because if you struggle taking pills or get an easily upset stomach then chews may be best for you.

These chews are packaged individually to assist you in getting the nutrients you need at home, in the workplace, or on-the-go.

Viactiv is a tasty way for you to increase your Calcium intake!

Advantages:

  • Soft and chewy
  • Make Calcium supplements tasty

Disadvantages:

  • Contains 2g of sugar per chew

5 – Naturelo (Vegetarian Friendly)  

Variety of vitamins and minerals in a natural product.

  • Price Per Dose: $0.18/dose
  • Levels of Calcium and Vitamin D3: 600 mg Calcium and 750 IU Vitamin D3
  • Additional Vitamins: Vitamin C 60 mg, Vitamin K2 60 mcg, C, Magnesium 200 mg, Zinc 8 mg, Manganese 1 mg, Potassium 50 mg, Boron 3 mg, Silica 3 mg
  • Third Party Testing of Components: This product is reviewed by GMP to be a Natural Product.

Our top 5 calcium supplements ends with Naturelo.

The primary reason we like Naturelo is the wide variety of vitamins and minerals each dose contains.

Another reason we include Naturelo in our top five is because we wanted to provide an extremely safe option for people who have food allergies. 

Naturello is naturally sourced from a GMP-certified facility and is subject to rigorous testing for purity.

This means Naturelo is free of GMO’s, animal by-products and things like nuts, dairy and eggs.

Advantages:

  • Lots of vitamins in addition to Calcium and Vitamin D
  • Vegetarian and environmentally friendly
  • Non-GMO and free of artificial additives or preservatives.

Disadvantages:

  • Not certified by top tier certification services (NSF or USP)

Wildcard – OsteoMD (Unique)  

Unique ingredients and higher price.

  • Price Per Dose: $0.92/dose
  • Levels of Calcium and Vitamin D3: 325 mg Calcium and 2000 IU Vitamin D3
  • Additional Vitamins: 50 mcg Vitamin K, 750 mg Cal-Z-Bone
  • Third Party Testing of Components: This product has not been reviewed by third party testing. 

Calcium hydroxyapatite has been found in some studies to be more effective at strengthening bones than calcium carbonate and citrate supplements alone.

According to the company, its product includes clinically researched Vitamin K2 and CalZbone variants that improve calcium absorption and enhance absorbability.

OsteoMD is not our top choice, but we realize some people are looking to travel off the beaten path!

Advantages:

  • Hydroxyapatite is less common than citrate and carbonate
  • Contains unique patented ingredients like CalZbone
  • 90 day money back guarantee

Disadvantages:

  • Not evaluated by USP or FDA
  • Higher cost per dose

FAQs

What’s the difference between carbonate and citrate?

The calcium supplements listed above are either carbonate, citrate or hydroxyapatite.

Calcium carbonates contain more calcium and require less servings than citrates.

However, citrates are also more easily absorbed by the body so citrates are better to take on an empty stomach. 

People who take medications for heartburn should choose citrate calcium supplements.

Citrates tend to taste sour (like citrus) while carbonates may leave a bitter aftertaste.

What’s Hydroxyapatite?

Hydroxyapatite is a naturally-occurring Calcium-phosphate mineral that is found in high concentrations within human bones and teeth.

Hydroxyapatite, as a supplement, has been shown to be slightly more effective than other forms of Calcium at preventing bone loss and building new bone tissue.

About Third Party Certifications USP and NSF

There is a range of third party certifications, but generally speaking U.S. Pharmacopeia (USP) and National Science Foundation (NSF) are the leading programs. 

USP is a not-for-profit, public health and science organization that sets standards for the quality of ingredients in dietary supplements.

NSF is an independent, nonprofit organization that writes standards for food, water, and consumer products. It also verifies that companies meet those standards.

Further Resources

  1. USP Verified Product Listing 
  2. NSF Certified Dietary Supplements 
  3. USDA Organic Certified Directory
  4. Carbon Free Certified Product Index
  5. List of Certified GMP Natural Products

Should I take calcium supplements if I’m on other medications?

None of the information in this post should be taken as medical advice.

Vitamin K may interfere with Warfarin, the blood thinning medication.

Vitamin D may interfere with certain blood pressure drugs like Diltiazem.

Overall, though, calcium supplements are safe and any extra vitamins you’ll just pee out without any harm whatsoever 🙂

Conclusion

When picking a Calcium supplement you have a lot of options.

Much of your selection depends on what you’re looking for specifically.

Are you looking for …

  • Environmentally friendly? Go with Naturelo
  • Best bang for your buck? Citracal
  • Safe, familiar, and simple? NatureMade
  • Want to explore? OsteoMD
  • Want a tasty chew? Viactiv

We hope this article helps you make an informed decision!

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About the Author

Hey, I'm Jared and I'm a writer and coach.

I help yo yo dieters stop binge eating and emotional eating through journaling, which works because it's so easy, simple and effective for lasting habit change.


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