calcium salts (Cal-Citrate, Calcitrate, Calcium Chloride, Rolaids, Oyster Shell, Tums, and others)

  • Pharmacy Author:
    Omudhome Ogbru, PharmD

    Dr. Ogbru received his Doctorate in Pharmacy from the University of the Pacific School of Pharmacy in 1995. He completed a Pharmacy Practice Residency at the University of Arizona/University Medical Center in 1996. He was a Professor of Pharmacy Practice and a Regional Clerkship Coordinator for the University of the Pacific School of Pharmacy from 1996-99.

  • Medical and Pharmacy Editor: Jay W. Marks, MD
    Jay W. Marks, MD

    Jay W. Marks, MD

    Jay W. Marks, MD, is a board-certified internist and gastroenterologist. He graduated from Yale University School of Medicine and trained in internal medicine and gastroenterology at UCLA/Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.

What is calcium salts, and how does it work (mechanism of action)?

Calcium is an important mineral required for the proper functioning of many organs and tissues. Calcium is needed for the heart, skeletal muscles, and nervous system to work properly. Additionally, calcium plays an important role in blood coagulation (stops bleeding).

Our bones store calcium which can be released depending on our body's needs. Calcium is naturally found in many of the foods we eat. Calcium supplements are needed when we are unable to get enough calcium from the foods we eat.

Calcium is available in various forms as salts combined with other elements which differ in the amount of calcium they contain. Because of the various forms in which calcium exists, different formulations of calcium supplements are not interchangeable on an mg per mg basis; they do not contain the same amounts of calcium. In order to compare forms of calcium, elemental calcium (i.e., the amount of calcium excluding the other elements with which the calcium is combined) can be expressed in milliequivalents (mEq) or (mg) with 1 mEq equal to approximately 20 mg). Listed below are the commonly used calcium salts and their respective calcium content.

  • Calcium acetate: 250 mg (12.5 mEq) per gram
  • Calcium carbonate: 400 mg (20 mEq) per gram
  • Calcium chloride: 270 mg (13.5 mEq) per gram
  • Calcium citrate: 210 mg (10.5 mEq) per gram
  • Calcium Glubionate: 64 mg (3.2 mEq) per gram
  • Calcium gluconate: 93 mg (4.65 mEq) per gram
  • Calcium lactate: 130 mg (6.5 mEq) per gram

What brand names are available for calcium salts?

Cal-Citrate, Cal-Lac, Calcionate, Calciquid, Calcitrate, Calcium Acetate, Calcium Chloride, Calciym Citrate, Calcium Gluceptate, Calcium Gluconate, Calcium Lactate, Calphosan, Calphron, Citracal, Citracal Liquitab, Citrus Calcium, Eliphos, Neo-Calglucon, Phos Cal, PhosLo, Phoslyra, Ridactate, Rolaids, Oysco, Oyster Shell, Tums

Is calcium salts available as a generic drug?


Do I need a prescription for calcium salts?


What are the uses for calcium salts?

  • Calcium supplements are used in individuals who are unable to get enough calcium from their regular diet. Severe deficiency can result in low levels of calcium in the blood (hypocalcemia).
  • Calcium supplements are commonly used to prevent osteoporosis (bone loss).
  • Injectable calcium may be used to treat patients in cardiac arrest or those with life threatening cardiac arrhythmias (abnormal heartbeats).
  • Injectable calcium may be used to treat severe hyperkalemia (abnormally high levels of blood potassium), or hypermagnesemia (abnormally high levels of blood magnesium).
  • Calcium salts also are used as antacids.

What are the side effects of calcium salts?

Common side effects of calcium salts include:

Other side effects include:

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 4/14/2016

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