Calcium supplementation: effect on iron absorption

Am J Clin Nutr. 1991 Jan;53(1):106-11. doi: 10.1093/ajcn/53.1.106.


The influence of calcium supplements on the absorption of dietary nonheme iron and of iron supplements was evaluated in 61 normal volunteer subjects by use of a double-radioisotope technique. When taken without food, calcium carbonate did not inhibit the absorption of ferrous sulphate with doses of either 300 mg Ca and 37 mg Fe or 600 mg Ca and 18 mg Fe. However, at the latter levels, calcium citrate and calcium phosphate reduced iron absorption significantly by 49% and 62%, respectively. All calcium supplements inhibited absorption of the iron supplement when taken with food. The absorption of dietary nonheme iron was also inhibited by all three supplements. This inhibition was less pronounced from a meal of high iron availability and low calcium content (28%) than from a breakfast meal of low iron availability and high calcium content (55%). These results suggest that taking regular calcium supplements with meals makes it more difficult for women to meet their daily iron requirement.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Absorption / drug effects
  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Biological Availability
  • Calcium Carbonate / pharmacology
  • Calcium Phosphates / pharmacology
  • Calcium, Dietary / administration & dosage
  • Calcium, Dietary / pharmacology*
  • Citrates / pharmacology
  • Citric Acid
  • Female
  • Ferrous Compounds / metabolism
  • Food
  • Humans
  • Iron / administration & dosage
  • Iron / metabolism*
  • Male


  • Calcium Phosphates
  • Calcium, Dietary
  • Citrates
  • Ferrous Compounds
  • alpha-tricalcium phosphate
  • tetracalcium phosphate
  • Citric Acid
  • ferrous sulfate
  • calcium phosphate, monobasic, anhydrous
  • calcium phosphate
  • Iron
  • Calcium Carbonate
  • calcium phosphate, dibasic, anhydrous