The consumer cost of calcium from food and supplements

J Am Diet Assoc. 2002 Nov;102(11):1669-71. doi: 10.1016/s0002-8223(02)90355-x.


Nutritional authorities encourage consumers to include calcium-rich foods in their daily diets. However, consumer purchases are driven not only by health considerations and dietary preferences, but also by cost. This study assessed the cost of calcium from a wide variety of food sources, as well as supplements, based on retail prices in Seattle, San Francisco, Raleigh, NewYork City, and Washington, D.C., while controlling for seasonal variation. Costs were adjusted based on calcium absorption fractions. Calcium carbonate supplements emerged as the least expensive source of calcium, at roughly one-third the cost of the least expensive food source of calcium. The least expensive food sources of calcium were Total cereal, skim milk, and calcium-fortified orange juice from frozen concentrate. This information is useful for dietitians, health professionals, and consumers in meeting calcium requirements on a budget.

MeSH terms

  • Absorption
  • Biological Availability
  • Calcium, Dietary / administration & dosage
  • Calcium, Dietary / economics*
  • Calcium, Dietary / pharmacokinetics
  • Costs and Cost Analysis
  • Dairy Products / economics
  • Dietary Supplements / economics*
  • Humans
  • Lactase
  • Nutritional Requirements
  • Seasons
  • United States
  • beta-Galactosidase / administration & dosage
  • beta-Galactosidase / economics


  • Calcium, Dietary
  • Lactase
  • beta-Galactosidase