Calcium requirements vary throughout your life according to age, stress, medical conditions, allergies and disease. A balanced diet including dairy products, broccoli, spinach, legumes and other calcium-rich foods are the best sources. However, a significant portion of the population in Western countries fails to achieve the daily-recommended 1,000 to 1,200mg of calcium. Calcium citrate, used for supplements and food fortification, provides some advantages over other forms of calcium additives.
Calcium citrate is an organic compound made from the calcium salt of citric acid. With a high content of elemental calcium, the kind your body can absorb, calcium citrate is a beneficial supplement, food additive and preservative. Calcium citrate is often manufactured from citrus juices such as lime juice or added to food in the form of citric acid.
The mineral calcium is vitally important to support tissue, bones and cells in the body. Calcium aids in the activation of enzymes for proper digestion and encourages a healthy heart and nervous system. A deficiency of calcium could cause symptoms such as mood swings, headaches, kidney stones, numbness or muscle cramping, increased cholesterol levels and bone deterioration.
Citrate salts are added to foods in the form of citric acid. The amount of citrate added to food daily is about 500 mg per person, according to FDA Database Reviews. Calcium citrate is the preferred source of calcium for fortifying food and drinks. It has the advantage of a neutral taste and high bioavailability. Other calcium sources have lower calcium content than calcium citrate. Additionally, calcium citrate has good solubility at low pH levels, making it suitable for an additive to orange juice, and its solubility at low temperatures is an advantage for cold food processing. Calcium citrate is also the most economic option for adding calcium to food.
A study published in the “Journal of Endourology” in 2008 concluded that lemon and lime juice, fresh and from concentrates, contains more calcium citrate in the form of citric acid than processed grapefruit or orange juice, or freshly squeezed orange juice. Ready-to-consume lemonade and concentrates contain more than six times the citric acid of lemon and lime juice.
Breads and Flours
Calcium-enriched bread often uses calcium citrate to produce baked goods that can be marketed as “high-calcium.” A study appearing in the “Journal of American Dietetic Association” researched the feasibility of fortifying tortillas with calcium. The conclusion was that fortification of flour tortillas increased the calcium content by a factor of 8.6, making them a viable alternate calcium source.
Other Food Sources
Calcium citrate is also used as a firming agent and acidity regulator in food. Food products that may include this additive are gelatin, ice cream, carbonated beverages, jams, evaporated, condensed and powdered milk, wine and processed cheese.
- ACS Publications: Manufacture of Calcium Citrate and Citric Acid from Lime Juice; F. H. S. Warneford; 1925
- The Merck Manuals Online Medical Library: Calcium
- FDA: Database of Select Committee on GRAS Substances (SCOGS) Reviews: Calcium Citrate
- "Calcium Citrate in Fortified-Food Applications"; Gerhard Gerstner, Ph.D.
- “Journal of Endourology”; Quantitative Assessment of Citric Acid in Lemon Juice, Lime Juice, and Commercially-Available Fruit Juice Products; Kristina L. Penniston et al; 2008