Calcium Carbonate: Health Benefits, Properties and Uses

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Calcium carbonate is a very abundant inorganic salt in nature. So we can find it in limestones and as a major component of the skeletons of many organisms.

We usually obtain calcium through our daily diet. However, at a certain age, both women and men may need supplements to prevent bones from weakening.

This chemical compound is an ally of health, as we can understand when we learn about its benefits, properties and medicinal uses.

What is calcium carbonate?

  • Molar mass: 100.0869 g/mol
  • Formula: CaCO3
  • IUPAC name: Calcium carbonate
  • Density: 2.71 g/cm³
  • Melting point: 825 °C
  • Solubility in water: 0.0013 g/100 mL (25 ℃)
  • Structural formula: CaCO3

Calcium carbonate is a dietary supplement used when the amount of calcium consumed through the diet is not sufficient. It is usually combined with vitamins and other minerals to enhance its therapeutic effect.

It is a calcium salt containing 40% elemental calcium per gram of salt. It is obtained by precipitation of calcium in the form of carbonate.

Properties of calcium carbonate

  • It is used as a calcium supplement
  • It is a mineral salt essential for the functioning of human body systems.
  • It is used as an antacid.
  • It is an absorbent agent

Benefits of calcium carbonate

Calcium is essential for maintaining healthy bones, muscles, heart and central nervous system.

Calcium carbonate is indicated to prevent and treat calcium deficiency. Its health benefits are

  • It fights and prevents bone diseases. It is used as an adjuvant therapy in the treatment of patients with severe calcium and vitamin D deficiencies, such as those suffering from postmenopausal osteoporosis, senile osteoporosis or osteoporosis resulting from corticosteroid treatments. In addition, it can delay and prevent hypoparathyroidism, rickets and osteomalacia.
  • Patients with high levels of phosphate in blood. Under medical prescription, this calcium supplement is used as a phosphate binder in patients with elevated blood phosphate levels
  • It relieves heartburn and other digestive problems. It is widely used as an antacid to relieve heartburn and indigestion, since it quickly neutralizes stomach acid, and its effect helps to mitigate the discomfort caused by heartburn.
  • Vital in states in which the metabolic demand for calcium increases. Calcium bicarbonate or calcium carbonate is a dietary supplement widely used in stages such as growth, pregnancy and lactation, for the prevention and treatment of calcium deficiency.

Uses of calcium carbonate

Calcium carbonate is an inorganic and insoluble salt used in food as an additive that serves as a neutralizer, hardener and anti-caking agent. For this reason, it is frequently used as a coating for confectionery, chewing gum and for the decoration of bakery products.

It is mainly used in food supplements for coating dragées and in vitamins as an anti-adhesive or anti-caking agent

It is frequently used as an antacid in the pharmaceutical industry. Among the commercial brands of drugs containing it are

  • Alka-Mints
  • Calel-D
  • Caltrate 600
  • Chooz
  • Os-Cal 500
  • Rolaids Calcium Rich
  • Titralac
  • Tums

how to take calcium carbonate

Calcium carbonate comes in the form of chewable tablets, regular tablets, capsules and liquid solution to be taken orally.

The recommended dose in adults is 500 to 1500 mg of calcium per day. In children, the recommended dose is 500 to 1000 mg daily

As a complementary source of calcium, the following is generally indicated

  • Children 4 to 8 years old. 1 tablet per day.
  • Adolescents. 3 tablets per day.
  • Adults. 2 tablets a day.
  • Adults over 65 years old. 3 tablets a day.
  • Pregnant and breastfeeding women. 3 tablets a day.

Of course, the above recommended doses are indicative, as a doctor should always be consulted before taking calcium carbonate.

How long does it take for calcium carbonate to take effect?

The relief produced by calcium carbonate is fast, and its effects are often felt within a minute of taking it and last for about 1 hour

It can be taken for 14 days in a row, but if discomfort persists after using it for this period of time, a health specialist should be consulted immediately.

Precautions before taking calcium carbonate

Before starting treatment, the doctor should know if the patient is allergic to calcium carbonate and if he/she is taking other drugs

It is also important to inform the doctor if you have kidney or stomach diseases, as well as if you have high levels of calcium in your blood or urine.

For women, it is also a priority to inform your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant, or if you are breastfeeding

Interactions of calcium carbonate with other drugs

Interactions of calcium carbonate include the following:

  • Tetracyclines. It may interfere with the absorption of tetracyclines if taken at the same time. For this reason, they should be taken at least 2 hours before, or 4 to 6 hours after calcium carbonate intake.
  • Bisphosphonate-containing drugs. These drugs should be taken at least one hour before, since they decrease the antihypertensive effect of Ca antagonists.
  • Levothyroxine. Because it decreases its effect, it should be taken at least four hours before or four hours after.
  • Antibiotics. The effects of some antibiotics, such as quinolones, may be reduced if taken at the same time as calcium. Therefore, they should be taken two hours before or six hours after.

Possible side effects of calcium carbonate

Side effects of this drug are not common, but some of the following may occur:

  • Stomach pain
  • Vomiting
  • Flatulence
  • Constipation
  • Dry mouth
  • Loss of appetite
  • Increased need to urinate
  • Itching and hives

Calcium is an essential mineral for the body, therefore, maintaining adequate levels prevents osteoporosis and other health conditions. This can be achieved with a balanced diet and supplements containing calcium carbonate.

German Fuertes Otero
German Fuertes Otero
CEO at M.D. from Stanford Medicine: Stanford, California, US, M.Sc. from University of Cambridge: Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, UK and University of Oxford: Oxford, Oxfordshire, UK. PhD at Harvard University Harvard Catalyst: Cambridge, MA, US.

Aunque pueda contener afirmaciones, datos o apuntes procedentes de instituciones o profesionales sanitarios y la información contenida en PharmaSalud esté redactada por profesionales en medicina, recomendamos al lector que cualquier duda relacionada con la salud sea consultada con un profesional del ámbito sanitario.

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