Calcium Carbonate vs. Calcium Citrate vs. Calcium Phosphate

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Difference between Calcium Carbonate, Calcium Citrate and Calcium Phosphate

Calcium is one of the most important elements around, and the fact that it comes in so many varied forms merely expands its range of uses. In this comparison article, we take a look at three different types of calcium: calcium carbonate, calcium citrate, and calcium phosphate.

Calcium Carbonate
Calcium Phosphate

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Calcium carbonate is a chemical substance that is designated by the chemical formula CaCO3. It is a common substance that can be found in rocks, the shells of marine organisms, snails, eggshells and even pearls. Calcium carbonate is often used in agricultural lime, and is often the reason for “hard” water. Calcium carbonate may be used as a supplement or in antacids, but excessive use entails a certain degree of risk.

Calcium citrate is the name given to the calcium salt found in citric acid. Often used as an additive for food, this substance is also used as a preservative and a flavoring agent. Calcium citrate is made up of as much as 21% calcium.

Calcium phosphate is a group of minerals that contain calcium as well as orthophosphates, metaphosphates and/or pyrophosphates. In some instances, hydrogen may also be present. Calcium phosphate is commonly found in cow’s milk and in the enamel of the tooth.

In Industry

Ken Simmons used calcium carbonate as an additive to the Whetstone Brook in 1989. His purpose was to reduce the effects of acid rain on the stream, and hopefully encourage the trout to continue spawning. Other industrial applications for the substance include neutralizing acidity in soil as well as water.

Calcium citrate is commonly used to soften water, since the citrate ions contained in the substance has the effect of chelating metal ions.

Calcium phosphate is commonly used in the manufacture of phosphoric acid and fertilizers. That being said, the use of calcium phosphate carries the risk of running off the nutrient-laden of the soil, and causing algal blooms in water where the substance ends up.

For Human Consumption

Calcium carbonate is commonly used as a low cost calcium supplement for humans. It has also found use as an antacid agent. In some cases, the substance is as filler for tablets and other medications. Calcium carbonate is also often used in toothpaste, and as a flavor and color preservative for food.

Calcium citrate is often used as a more efficient replacement for calcium carbonate. This is often a more favorable alternative for people who require calcium supplements after surgery.

Calcium phosphate is also used as a dietary supplement, although calcium carbonate and calcium citrate are much more common for these purposes.

Similarities and Differences

Calcium carbonate

  • Can be found in rocks, the shells of marine organisms, snails, eggshells and even pearls
  • Often the reason for “hard” water

Calcium citrate

  • Calcium salt found in citric acid
  • Often used as an additive for food, this substance is also used as a preservative and a flavoring agent

Calcium phosphate

  • A group of minerals that contain calcium as well as orthophosphates, metaphosphates and/or pyrophosphates

Which form of calcium is the healthiest for people to take?
  • Calcium Carbonate
  • Calcium Citrate
  • Calcium Phosphate
 
 

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