The Best Calcium Supplements

The best calcium supplement should be independently certified for accuracy and purity. It should include vitamin D to aid in absorption, and it should rely on a form of calcium that's easy for your body to process — like calcium citrate. To find the best, we talked to doctors and consulted clinical research, and then checked out 11 finalists for ourselves to see which were the most palatable.

The 3 Best Calcium Supplements

Citracal Petites Calcium Citrate Formula + D3

Best
Overall
Citracal Petites Calcium Citrate Formula + D3
Easy-to-swallow calcium tablets that don’t need to be taken with a meal.
Pros
Calcium citrate
Can take without food
Easy to swallow
Cons
Not food-based

Why we chose it

Calcium citrate

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 U.S. National Library of Medicine concluded that calcium citrate’s absorption rate was 22-27% higher than the much more common calcium carbonate.

Can take without food

Calcium citrate can also be taken without a meal: Because it’s acidic, your stomach can easily break it down and process it. Non-acidic forms of calcium need the help of stomach acid (which your body only produces when you eat) to be fully absorbed.

Easy to swallow

Citracal also stood out for being easy to swallow. Calcium in any form is a bulky mineral, so most of the pills we tested were quite large. Nature Made, for example, offered thick tablets with pronounced edges that felt likely to stick going down, while Nature’s Bounty’s pills were so large we weren’t sure we could swallow them. But Citracal comes in smooth, slender caplets roughly the size of a Tylenol.

Points to consider

Not food-based

The production of Citracal mostly involves synthetic ingredients. While there’s no clinical evidence to suggest that food-based supplements are superior, some people prefer this option based on the theory that nutrients work together synergistically in their natural state and can be less potent when created synthetically.

Rainbow Light Calcium Citrate Mini-Tablets

Best
Food-Based Supplements
Rainbow Light Calcium Citrate Mini-Tablets
A food-based supplement that also includes herbal extracts for bone strength.
Pros
Natural ingredients
Calcium citrate + food-based supplement
Respectable rating
Cons
More expensive

Why we chose it

Natural ingredients

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

Calcium citrate + food-based supplement

Rainbow Light also includes calcium citrate, with each pill providing 200 mg of calcium and 200 IUs of vitamin D. Furthermore, these tablets are food-based, meaning that their nutrients are sourced from whole foods rather than being synthetically produced.

Respectable rating

Rainbow Light received a respectable 75/100 from third-party testing group Labdoor. Third-party testing is essential to ensure the purity and safety of any supplement to ensure you’re getting all the right stuff, and nothing else, from your calcium supplement.

Points to consider

More expensive

As is often the case with food-based supplements, the price tag for Rainbow Light was significantly higher than our other picks. While the price may vary based on where you shop, we found Rainbow Light for $0.11 per pill on Amazon, compared to $0.02 per pill for Citracal. But if you’re willing to pay more for an all-natural option, it’s our favorite.

Vitafusion Calcium Gummies

Best
Gummy Supplement
Vitafusion Calcium Gummies
A chewable option to take with a meal.
Pros
Pleasant taste
Affordable alternative
Cons
Contains tricalcium phosphate

Why we chose it

Pleasant taste

Vitafusion’s “natural fruit and cream” flavor reminded us pleasantly of Creme Lifesavers. 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. Vitafusion gummies do leave a faintly chalky aftertaste behind, but this was true of all the options we tried.

Affordable alternative

At $0.08 per gummy, this option is priced in between our other top picks. Each gummy offers 250 mg of calcium and 500 IUs of vitamin D.

Points to consider

Contains tricalcium phosphate

It’s important to note that none of the chewable supplements we tested contained calcium citrate. 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. This means Vitafusion should be taken with a meal to help absorption.

Guide to Calcium Supplements

How to find the right calcium supplement for you

Consult with your doctor

Be sure to speak with your doctor before taking any of these. They can help you determine if you actually need a calcium supplement and may make specific recommendations. Most health organizations, 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. 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.

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.

Don’t forget about Vitamin D

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) explains that without vitamin D, the human body is unable to form a hormone called calcitriol, which makes it hard to absorb calcium from dietary sources. Instead, your body will start to use up calcium stored in the skeleton — which weakens your existing bone structure. When you’re shopping for calcium supplements, avoid those that don’t come with Vitamin D. Our top picks have both.

Add magnesium and vitamin K separately

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. This helps prevent 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.

While it’s not a good idea to bundle these up with your calcium supplement, you can take separate supplements or eat foods that include these:


Food

Amount

Vitamin K

Magnesium

Kale, raw


1 cup

141% DV

2% DV

Broccoli, boiled


1 cup
138% DV
4% DV

Carrot Juice


1 cup

34% DV
8% DV

Spinach, raw


1 cup

180% DV
6% DV

Swiss chard, raw


1 cup

374% DV
7% DV

Calcium Supplements FAQ

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. In fact, a European research panel found no adverse risks from ingesting titanium dioxide at all, while the US National Institutes of Health report that magnesium stearate toxicity is “very rare.”

Where else can I get calcium in addition to supplements?

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. But know 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

How much Vitamin D do I need alongside calcium supplements?

Our top picks offer between 400 and 1,000 IUs of vitamin D per serving, a range that matches commonly recommended supplementation levels. You can check out our vitamin D review to learn more, but know that you’d have to consume about 4,000 IUs a day before toxicity becomes a concern.

The Best Calcium Supplements: Summed Up

Citracal Petites Calcium Citrate Formula + D3
Rainbow Light Calcium Citrate Mini-Tablets
Vitafusion Calcium Gummies
Best Overall
Best Food-Based Supplement
Best Gummy Supplement
Price
$10
$13
$8
Form
Petite caplets
Mini-Tablets
Gummy vitamin
Dosage
2 caplets twice daily
4 tablets daily
2 gummies daily
With or Without Food
Either
Either
With Food