Gastric acidity, atrophic gastritis, and calcium absorption

Nutr Rev. 1992 Feb;50(2):33-40. doi: 10.1111/j.1753-4887.1992.tb02510.x.


The deleterious effects of increased gastric pH on calcium absorption from calcium carbonate supplements were observed about 25 years ago. Increasing use of calcium supplements, especially by the elderly, has raised questions about bioavailability from various calcium sources. Decreased gastric acidity is common in the elderly and in patients taking antiulcer medications. A critical review of the available human studies that have investigated the role of gastric acidity in calcium bioavailability suggests that the effects of increased gastric pH are only apparent when poorly soluble calcium salts are taken after an overnight fast. Soluble calcium sources, such as calcium citrate and calcium from milk, are absorbed normally in elderly subjects with atrophic gastritis. Moreover, calcium carbonate, a relatively insoluble calcium salt, is well absorbed in atrophic gastritis patients if administered with a meal. In order to maximize calcium bioavailability, elderly subjects should increase their calcium intakes to at least recommended levels, preferably by increasing milk consumption. When calcium supplements are used to augment dietary calcium sources, a highly soluble source should be of benefit or calcium carbonate may be taken with a meal.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Absorption
  • Biological Availability
  • Calcium / pharmacokinetics*
  • Gastric Acid / metabolism*
  • Gastritis, Atrophic / metabolism*
  • Humans


  • Calcium