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    You Ask, I Answer: Calcium Absorption, Kidney Stone Risk, and Gelatin-Free Vitamin D Supplements

    0904-calcium-supplements1. Is there research that indicates that calcium carbonate’s absorption is superior to that of calcium citrate?

    2. My doctor recently suggested that I supplement my diet with calcium and vitamin D. Is there a heightened risk of developing kidney stones associated with calcium supplementation?

    3. Most of the vitamin D supplements I’ve found contain gelatin as an ingredient. Do you know of any alternative products?

    — Josh Griffin
    (Location Unknown)

    1. Calcium carbonate contains a higher amount of elemental calcium than calcium citrate (almost twice as much), thereby making its contribution more significant.  Elemental calcium is the actual absorbable calcium in a supplement.  In essence, the more elemental calcium a supplement contains, the more calcium you absorb.

    If you take calcium supplements on an empty stomach, though, calcium citrate is the better choice, since calcium carbonate is not absorbed well if food is not present.

    2. If you are predisposed to kidney stone formation, calcium supplementation (not higher intakes of calcium-rich foods) may increase your risk of developing more stones.  However, there are two considerably more significant risk factors you need to be concerned with:

    1. Not consuming enough liquids
    2. A diet high in oxalate-rich foods (nuts, seeds, chocolate, spinach, berries, etc.).

    3. The only vitamin D supplement I am familiar with that does not contain gelatin is DEVA.

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