The Best Calcium Supplement

Convenient to take and easy to absorb

The 30-Second Review

The best calcium supplement should be independently certified for accuracy and purity, and easy for your body to absorb. To find the best, we talked to doctors and consulted clinical research, and then checked out 11 pills, caplets, and gummies for ourselves to see which ones were the easiest to swallow.

Best Overall

Small caplets formulated with calcium citrate — the only form of calcium that doesn’t have to be taken with a meal. The pills also contain a moderate dose of vitamin D to aid absorption.

Others to Consider

The Best Calcium Supplement

Calcium is the most abundant mineral in the body and is essential for building and maintaining strong bones and teeth. It also plays a vital role in keeping your muscles, nerves, and heart functioning normally. As with other nutrients, it’s always best to get your calcium from food first, but this can sometimes be challenging — especially for women as they age.

Do men need calcium supplements? According to the Mayo Clinic, men generally do not need calcium supplements. Men have a much lower risk of osteoporosis than women, whose bodies tend to absorb less dietary calcium as they age.

Our top pick, Citracal Petites Calcium Citrate Formula + D3,, has an affordable $0.05-per-pill price point and high ratings from third-party testing group ConsumerLab. Unlike most of the supplements we tested, it relies on calcium citrate, a form of calcium that doesn’t need to be taken with food. It also includes vitamin D, which aids in the absorption of calcium. A bottle of 200 pills retails for about $11.

Rainbow Light Calcium Citrate Mini-Tablets are a bit pricier ($0.08 per pill). Like Citracal, they include calcium citrate plus a moderate amount of vitamin D. But Rainbow Light sources its calcium from whole-food sources rather than relying on lab-made calcium. There’s no evidence to suggest the source of the calcium in your supplement makes a difference, but some consumers prefer to pay a little extra for added peace of mind — $10 for 120 tablets.

If you have trouble swallowing pills, we’d suggest Vitafusion Calcium Gummies as an alternative. These fruit-flavored bites rely on calcium carbonate and should be taken with a meal to be fully absorbed, but testers reported that they were the tastiest of all the gummies we tested — $7 for 100 gummies.

Our Picks for the Best Calcium Supplement

Best Overall

Citracal Petites Calcium Citrate Formula + D3 Easy-to-swallow calcium tablets that don’t need to be taken with a meal.

Citracal first caught our eye because it provides calcium in the form of calcium citrate. This form of calcium is pricier for manufacturers to source, so you won’t see it as often on ingredient labels. But research suggests it’s also the form that’s easiest for your body to absorb. In fact, a study from the US National Library of Medicine concluded that calcium citrate’s absorption rate was 22 to 27 percent higher than the much more common calcium carbonate. Because calcium citrate is acidic, it can also be taken without a meal — other forms of calcium require food (and the accompanying stomach acid) for absorption.

Calcium in any form is a bulky mineral, so most of the pills we tested were also quite large. Nature Made, for example, offered thick tablets with pronounced edges that were uncomfortable to swallow. But Citracal comes in smooth, slender caplets roughly the size of a Tylenol. Each pill delivers a respectable 200 mg of calcium and 250 IUs of vitamin D.

This product also passed ConsumerLab’s third-party testing with flying colors (in fact, it’s one of their top calcium supplement recommendations) — and despite its use of a premium form of calcium we were fans of its affordable $0.05-per-pill price point.

Best Food-Based

Rainbow Light Calcium Citrate Mini-Tablets A food-based supplement that also includes herbal extracts for bone strength.

Rainbow Light Mini-Tablets are very similar to Citracal. They, too, rely on calcium citrate, with each pill providing 200 mg of calcium and 200 IUs of vitamin D. They have a mild herbal odor, though we didn’t find it unpleasant.

But unlike our top pick, Rainbow Light’s tablets are food-based, meaning that their nutrients are sourced from whole foods rather than being synthetically produced. There’s no clinical evidence to suggest that food-based supplements are superior, but some people prefer this option based on the theory that nutrients work together synergistically in their natural state and are less potent when created synthetically.

This natural pick also includes a few herbal additives, such as horsetail and spirulina, which studies have suggested may help reduce the risk of osteoporosis thanks to their bone-strengthening qualities. Also present is boron, which is similarly thought to improve bone strength.

Rainbow Light received a respectable 75 out of 100 from third-party testing group Labdoor. This supplement does come with a slightly higher price tag than Citracal, at $0.08 per pill. But if you’re looking for an all-natural option, it’s our favorite.

Best Gummy

Vitafusion Calcium Gummies A chewable option that should be taken with a meal.

If you just can’t handle pills, no worries — we also tested a number of chews. Our pick is Vitafusion Calcium Gummies. At $0.07 per gummy, this option is priced comparably to our other top picks. Each gummy offers 250 mg of calcium and 500 IUs of vitamin D. Vitafusion’s “natural fruit and cream” flavor reminded us pleasantly of Creme Lifesavers, and we preferred Vitafusion to options like Nature Made Adult Calcium Gummies, which we found overpoweringly sweet — or Nature’s Way Alive, which had a strong medicinal scent. The gummies do leave a faintly chalky aftertaste behind, but this was true of all the options we tried.

It’s also important to note that none of the chewable supplements we tested contained calcium citrate. This means that all of them, including Vitafusion, should be taken with a meal (although some claim that this isn’t necessary). Vitafusion uses tricalcium phosphate — an option that didn’t receive as much ire from our experts as calcium carbonate (which Dr. Dean told us she never recommends). But it’s still less absorbable than calcium citrate.

Vitafusion also contain 3 grams of sugar per gummy — chewable options will never be quite as healthy as just swallowing a pill. But it received the highest third-party rating of all our gummy finalists, a 66 out of 100 from Labdoor (who dinged it for having calcium levels that moderately exceeded label claims).

Did You Know?

How much calcium do you need?

Most health organizations, including the Mayo Clinic, suggest that women ages 19-50 should shoot for 1,000 mg of calcium a day, while women aged 51 and older should aim for 1,200 mg of calcium a day.

But despite this high daily allowance, calcium supplements should always be taken in doses of 500 mg or less. Dr. Keith Kantor, CEO of the nutrition initiative NAMED, explained that there’s only so much of the nutrient that our bodies can absorb at one time. He suggests taking half your needed calcium in the morning, and the other half at night.

Should I be worried about additives and fillers?

While researching calcium supplement additives, we ran into some controversy surrounding artificial colors and fillers, especially titanium dioxide and magnesium stearate, which have been linked to health concerns in high doses. We reached out to Morgan Statt, a health and consumer safety advocate at Consumersafety.org, for some help getting to the bottom of the issue. Her take? Don’t be alarmed by these ingredients. She stressed that the health concerns linked to titanium dioxide and magnesium stearate tend to arise from overdoses. (And in fact, calcium itself can cause problems if you take excessive amounts of it.) In other words, the phrase “everything in moderation” applies even to dietary supplements.

Magnesium and vitamin K are also important.

As we learned from Dr. Dean, if you’re concerned about bone health, don’t overlook the importance of magnesium and vitamin K. Magnesium works synergistically with vitamin D and calcium by stimulating the specific hormone calcitonin—which helps to preserve bone structure and draws calcium out of the blood and soft tissues back into the bones, preventing osteoporosis, some forms of arthritis and kidney stones. Magnesium aids in the transport of calcium and potassium ions across cell membranes. This process is critical for nerve impulse conduction, muscle contraction, and normal heart rhythm. Vitamin K, meanwhile, is needed in order for calcium to build bone.

If you’d like to add more vitamin K and magnesium-rich foods to your diet, here are a few suggestions to start you off:

Food

Amount

Magnesium

Kale, raw

1 cup
141% DV

Broccoli, boiled

1/2 cup
138% DV

Carrot Juice

3/4 cup
34% DV

Food

Amount

Magnesium

Spinach

1 cup
47% DV

Quinoa, cooked

1 cup
36% DV

Chard

1 cup
45% DV

Calcium from whole foods is still best.

Calcium supplements aren’t without controversy. There is some evidence to suggest that excessive levels of calcium can increase the risk of heart disease, and most health professionals recommended calcium from dietary sources first. And remember that milk isn’t your only option. The University of California San Francisco’s Medical Center offers these suggestions:

Food

Amount

Calcium

Broccoli, cooked

1 cup
18% DV

Figs, dried

1 cup
30% DV

Hard Cheese (cheddar, jack)

1 oz
20% DV

Mozzarella

1 oz
20% DV

Salmon, canned, with bones

3 oz.
17% to 21% DV

Spinach, cooked

1 cup
24% DV

Tofu, soft regular

4 oz
12% to 39% DV

The Best Calcium Supplement, Summed Up