What Is Calcium Lactate?

A Less Concentrated Form of Calcium

Calcium lactate is a calcium salt. It is a less concentrated form of calcium, and seems to be less bioavailable than other forms of supplemental calcium. Because of this, calcium lactate is not the most practical form of oral supplemental calcium.

Calcium lactate is often used as a food additive to enhance the calcium content of foods, replace other salts, or increase the overall pH (decrease acidity) of the food.

Close-Up of Pills on White Background
Noraishah Mohd Tahir / EyeEm / Getty Images

What Is Calcium Lactate Used For?

Calcium is the most abundant mineral in the body. It is required for heart, muscle, and nerve function. In the body, blood calcium levels remain relatively consistent and unchanged. It is acquired from dietary sources. 

If you do not get enough calcium in your diet, your body takes calcium from your bones to maintain constant appropriate levels of calcium throughout the rest of the body. If this continues on a long-term basis, it could weaken the bones and increase the risk of fracture.

Apart from calcium for bone health, additional possible benefits of calcium lactate supplementation include benefits to heart health, oral health, and exercise performance.

Heart Health

An older study examined the effect of calcium lactate supplementation on cholesterol in 43 people with hyperlipidemia and previous viral inflammation of the liver. The study participants were divided into a test group and a control (placebo) group. The test group was given calcium lactate and vitamin C three times a day for four weeks.

After the four weeks, it was found that the test group had decreased total cholesterol levels by 4%, which was statistically significant, and had no side effects of supplementation. However, there were no statistically significant changes of other cholesterol markers.

Though this study shows promise for calcium lactate supplementation on heart health, it was small (low number of participants and short treatment period) and provided a relatively low dose of calcium lactate. Additional studies are needed to validate the role of calcium lactate supplementation in relation to heart health.

Oral Health

A study looked at whether adding calcium lactate to xylitol chewing gum helps remineralize lesions on tooth enamel. Artificial lesions were made on enamel slabs of human extracted teeth and worn by 10 volunteers. Another 10 were used as controls and stored in a humidifier.

The study participants wore the enamel slabs without chewing gum, with chewing gum containing xylitol and calcium lactate, or with chewing gum containing only xylitol for four times a day for two weeks.

Remineralization was found to be greater after chewing xylitol and calcium lactate gum than in the other groups, leading to the conclusion that it might increase remineralization of tooth enamel surfaces.

A 2014 study that looked at using a calcium lactate pre-rinse to potentially increase fluoride protection against tooth enamel erosion. The researchers found that using a calcium lactate pre-rinse followed by a fluoride rinse significantly decreased surface loss of enamel when done before an erosive challenge compared to using a fluoride rinse alone.

However, researchers of an earlier study that investigated the use of a calcium lactate pre-rinse on plaque fluoride uptake determined that it did not significantly affect plaque fluoride concentration under any condition.

The mixed results and small sample size of these studies warrants that further research be performed to determine whether calcium lactate is beneficial to oral health.

Exercise Performance

Researchers studied the effects of two different doses of calcium lactate and repeated high-intensity exercise performance. They measured blood pH and bicarbonate of physically active young men at several time increments after ingestion of calcium lactate or placebo.

It was determined that both low- and high-dose calcium lactate supplementation increased in blood pH and bicarbonate, but not adequately enough to improve repeated high-intensity exercise performance.

A 2017 double-blind, placebo-controlled study examined the effect of long term calcium lactate supplementation on blood pH, bicarbonate, and high-intensity intermittent exercise performance.

After providing calcium lactate, sodium bicarbonate, or placebo to 18 athletes four times a day for five days, the researchers concluded that calcium lactate supplementation did not enhance high-intensity intermittent performance.

These studies demonstrated that calcium lactate may not be beneficial for exercise performance, but additional research may be conducted to dive deeper into the mixed results of previous, earlier studies.

Possible Side Effects

In smaller doses, calcium lactate seems to be well tolerated. However, overall high calcium intake can cause some side effects. These include constipation and decreasing the absorption of iron and zinc. Supplemental calcium, not from food, may also increase the risk of kidney stones.

Excessively high levels of calcium in the blood (hypercalcemia) can cause more serious side effects, such as poor kidney function, kidney stones, high urine levels of calcium, and hardening of blood vessels and soft tissue.

Calcium supplements may also interact with some medications, including antibiotics and the thyroid medication levothyroxine.

Dosage and Preparation

As a dietary supplement, calcium lactate is most commonly available in the form of tablets, capsules, or powders. Usual dosages range anywhere from 200 milligrams (mg) up to 1,000 mg depending on the brand and manufacturer.

Determining the exact amount of calcium in calcium supplements can be tricky, because pure elemental calcium is mixed with a filler during the manufacturing process.

For example, calcium carbonate is one of the most common forms of oral calcium supplements. Calcium carbonate contains 40% elemental calcium, with the remaining 60% being carbonate. Calcium lactate is technically just 13% elemental calcium. Check the label to find out how much elemental calcium is provided per pill. 

In a 200-milligram tablet of calcium lactate, there are about 26 milligrams of elemental calcium.

Recommended Dietary Allowances for Calcium

The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDAs) for calcium varies by age and sex. The RDAs include your intake from all sources, including food, drinks and supplements:

  • 1 to 3 years old: 700 milligrams per day
  • 4 to 8 years old: 1,000 milligrams per day
  • 9 to 18 years old: 1,300 milligrams per day
  • Men 19 to 70 years old: 1,000 milligrams per day
  • Women 19 to 50: 1,000 milligrams per day
  • Women 51+ and Men 71+: 1,200 milligrams per day

What to Look For

Because supplements aren’t closely regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, look for products that have been certified by a third party to ensure quality, such as the U.S. Pharmacopeia (USP), NSF International, or Consumer Lab. This ensures that your supplement meets specific standards of quality and dosage.

A Word from Verywell

In general, calcium lactate supplements are not recommended because they have very small amounts of calcium compared to other forms, such as calcium carbonate and calcium citrate.

Most people are able to meet their calcium needs through diet alone, which is preferred to supplementation, if possible. In addition, participating in regular physical activity can help build and maintain strong bones. If you are concerned about osteoporosis or your calcium intake, talk to your healthcare provider about whether calcium supplementation is right for you.

12 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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