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Calcium Citrate : Uses, Benefits, Side Effects, Dosage

Sep 5, 2022

Have you taken any calcium tablets in your childhood? No? Then you must have read or seen calcium tablets advertisements. Do you recall now? Generally, these tablets are referred to as for young kids or older people (generally those over 40 years). These tablets help them strengthen and maintain their bone health. Normally, one should take them as per the doctor’s suggestion.

This article concerns the chemical ingredient calcium citrate used to cure bone health or related diseases. You will learn what is calcium citrate, is used for, its side effects, and the preparation method.


What Is Calcium Citrate?

The calcium salt of citric acid is termed calcium citrate. As citrate calcium is sometimes employed as a preservative and food additive, it is somewhat akin to sodium citrate. The use of this as a food preservative is only to give flavor to the food items.

Calcium citrate is also known as calcitrate or tricalcium citrate. It has a molecular formula of C₁₂H₁₀Ca₃O₁₄ and 498.432 g/mol molar mass. It has more alternative names, such as tricalcium dicitrate, tricalcium citrate, or acicontral.


Chemically speaking, what calcium citrate can be answered as it is an organic compound and belongs to the class known as tricarboxylic acids and derivatives. These acids generally contain three carboxyl groups. Apart from natural food items, It is also found in some dietary calcium supplements such as Caltrate or Citracal. Calcium makes up 21.1% of calcium citrate (tetrahydrate) and 24.1% of calcium citrate (anhydrous) by mass. Calcium citrate of tetrahydrate form occurs in nature as the mineral called Earlandite.

What Is Calcium Citrate Made From?

The main chemical used to prepare this is citric acid. It is like a parent compound of calcium citrate. To answer what is calcium citrate made from, the following is its preparation procedure. The parental compound citric acid is generally prepared by the fungal fermentation process industrially. This is an intermediate product that is isolated during citric acid preparation. With the help of lime water, citric acid is neutralized in the broth solution. This neutralization step helps in precipitating the insoluble calcium citrate. This precipitate is filtered from the broth and frequently washed to get clean calcium citrate.


3Ca(OH)₂(s) + 2C₆H₈O₇(l) → Ca₃(C₆H₅O₇)₂(s) + 6H₂O(l)

As a result, the calcium citrate produced can be sold in the market in both ways, i.e., as calcium citrate and citric acid. It is treated with dilute sulfuric acid to form calcium citrate.


What Are the Chemical Properties of Calcium Citrate?

Some major chemical properties are,

  1. It is sparingly soluble in water.
  2. In hydrothermal synthesis, crystalline tricalcium dicitrate tetrahydrate [Ca₃(C₆H₅O₇)₂(H₂O)₂]·2H₂O is obtained. These crystals obtained are needle-shaped.
  3. The crystal structure comprehends a 3-D network in which eightfold correlated Ca²⁺ (calcium ions) are connected via hydrogen bonds and citrate anions among four water molecules. Two are non-coordinating crystals, and the other two are coordinating.

How Does Calcium Citrate Help?

It increases plasma calcium levels. It decreases calcium flux from the task of osteocytes by lowering the discharge of PTH, i.e., parathyroid hormone. Calcium performs this activity by stimulating a G-protein with a calcium receptor on the side of parathyroid cells. The decrease in calcium flux escalates the calcium amount settled in the bone. As a result, it aids in increasing the mineral density in bones. The lowering in PTH secretion also lessens the quantity of vitamin D consumed in calcidiol, which is its active form.


With the rise in calcidiol, the statement of calcium-dependent ATPases and TRPV6, both of which are involved in calcium uptake from the gut. TRPV6 means transient receptor potential cation medium subfamily V member 6. A decrease in calcidiol means less calcium absorption.

TRPV5 is the medium that is responsible for calcium reabsorption in the kidney. It is extracted when PTH secretion is lowered. Therefore, it aids in increasing calcium elimination through the kidneys. Calitonin is another type of hormone. During high plasma calcium periods, calitonin probably assists in shortening bone resorption.


What Is Calcium Citrate Used For?

Calcium is a vital mineral that must be present in the body to maintain bone health. Not only for bones, but calcium also helps the heart, nervous system, and muscles function properly. This aids by preventing or lowering blood calcium levels in people suffering from calcium shortening in their regular diets. To know what is it used for, check the list below:

  1. It treats conditions of low calcium levels, such as weak bones (rickets or osteomalacia), bone loss (osteoporosis), etc.
  2. It helps reduce the parathyroid gland (hypoparathyroidism) and certain muscle diseases such as latent tetany.
  3. For women facing nursing, pregnancy, or postmenopausal conditions, it is used in certain patients to ensure they get enough calcium.
  4. It is present in certain medications such as phenobarbital, phenytoin, or prednisone.
  5. Due to calcium’s protective effect on cells, this medication helps in reducing cancer risk.
  6. It helps in preventing the risk of cardiovascular disease. But some research rejected this effect.

Some other benefits what is calcium citrate used for are given below. It helps in treating

  • Metabolic syndrome
  • Weight loss
  • Preeclampsia

There are many other diseases for which calcium citrate tablets are useful. But it is necessary to contact your physician, chemist, or doctor before taking the medication.

What Are the Side Effects of Intaking Calcium Citrate?

Calcium is important for the body but has certain side effects. If you face any of the below symptoms, get emergency medical help:

  • Hives
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Swelling of your lips, face, throat, or tongue
  • Urination problem, i.e., little or no urination
  • Rapid weight gain
  • Swelling in the body

The presence of a high level of calcium in the blood can result in:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Muscle weakness
  • Bone pain
  • Constipation
  • Increase thirst level
  • Lack of energy
  • Confusion
  • Feeling tired
  • Constipation
  • Upset stomach

There are many more side effects caused by calcium deficiency. It can also cause

  • Reduced bone strength
  • Osteoporosis
  • Osteopenia
  • Fractures
  • Rickets in children
  • Bone disorders in adults

What Should Be the Dosage of Calcium Citrate?

Generally, it is suggested to intake 500 milligrams (mg) of dosage of it. But, it would be best if you took it as prescribed by your physician or as written on the label of the tablet packet.

  • Do not take calcium this medication in smaller or larger amounts for longer than suggested.
  • It can be devoured with or without food.
  • You can consume this tablet with a full glass of water.
  • You can eat it in the form of powder by measuring it with a spoon, as mentioned in the prescription.

Always discuss with a healthcare center the ingredients of the medication you use or intake. It is better to take precautions rather than cure the disease.

This may be a part of your dietary changes in the complete treatment program.

  • Instead of taking calcium citrate tablets to overcome the shortage of calcium in the body, eat fruits that contain calcium.
  • Follow your physician’s instructions and ask them to adjust the calcium citrate dose in your diet according to the changes in your body.
  • It must be stored at the mentioned storage temperature and away from heat and moisture.


Calcium citrate is an ingredient found in a variety of supplements and vitamins. It is a salt typically used as a source of calcium in various over-the-counter supplements. Calcium citrate is used to prevent and treat calcium deficiencies in the body. Patients taking more than 4g of calcium daily are at risk of metabolic alkalosis and hypercalcemia. Incurable intake of calcium supplements is associated with adverse gastrointestinal symptoms such as constipation and flatulence.

Calcium plays a chief role in the body. It is important to harmonize cells, nerves, bones, and muscles. Whenever there is a calcium shortage in your blood, your body starts to take calcium from your bones. As a result, bones start to become weak. The right amount of calcium is important for building and maintaining strong bones.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Is intake of calcium citrate safe for pregnant women?

A. The health conditions of breastfeeding or pregnant women as very sensitive. According to their health requirements, there may be variations in their dosage during their pregnancy period or while they are nursing. Therefore, it is advised to consult your doctor before intaking calcium citrate.

2. How to store calcium citrate?

A. Calcium citrate can be stored

  • Store it in a cool and dry place.
  • Discard it after one year or as instructed on the packaging.
  • Please keep it away from direct sunlight.
  • Please keep it away from your child’s reach.

3. What are the food sources of calcium citrate?

A. Most people can obtain sufficient calcium through food. Some calcium-rich foods include:

  • Calcium-fortified orange juice
  • Broccoli
  • Tofu
  • Soymilk
  • Cheese
  • Breakfast cereal
  • Cow’s milk
  • Chia seeds
  • Salmon or sardines canned with bones
  • Dark and leafy vegetables such as spinach, kale, turnip greens, etc.
  • Yoghurt

4. Who should avoid intaking calcium citrate?

A. People suffering from the following health problems should consult their doctor before taking calcium citrate.

  • Kidney stones
  • Kidney disease
  • Parathyroid gland disorder
  • Cancer
  • High levels of calcium in your blood
Citric Calcium


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