Objective: To perform a meta-analysis of data from available published trials comparing the bioavailability of calcium carbonate with that of calcium citrate.
Data sources: The whole set was comprised of 15 studies involving 184 subjects who underwent measurement of calcium absorption from calcium carbonate and calcium citrate. Category A excluded four studies for lack of physiological relevance, use of a mixed preparation with low content of calcium carbonate, or wide variability in results. Category B was comprised of five studies (from Category A) involving 71 subjects who took calcium supplements on an empty stomach. Category C was comprised of six studies (from Category A) involving 65 subjects who took calcium preparations with meals.
Method: The meta-analysis of calcium absorption data from calcium carbonate and calcium citrate, with calculation of effect size and 95% confidence intervals.
Results: Calcium absorption from calcium citrate was consistently significantly higher than that from calcium carbonate by 20.0% in the whole set, by 24.0% in Category A, by 27.2% on an empty stomach, and by 21.6% with meals.
Conclusion: Calcium citrate is better absorbed than calcium carbonate by approximately 22% to 27%, either on an empty stomach or co-administered with meals.