Gastroprotective and toxicological evaluation of the Lithothamnion calcareum algae

Food Chem Toxicol. 2012 May;50(5):1399-404. doi: 10.1016/j.fct.2012.02.028. Epub 2012 Feb 22.


Lithothamnion calcareum is a red alga of the Corallinacea family whose main feature is the formation of calcium carbonate precipitate in its cell walls. L. calcareum is marketed as a nutritional supplement for calcium and other minerals in Brazil and other countries under the pharmaceutical name of Vitality 50+. In this study, gastroprotective and pre-clinical toxicity assays were performed on this product. Doses of 30, 120 and 480 mg/kg were used in the gastroprotective study on Wistar rats. A dose of 2000 mg/kg was used in the preclinical acute toxicity study and oral doses of 1000 and 2000 mg/kg were used in the subchronic toxicity evaluation. L. calcareum played no significant role in the protection of the rats' gastric mucosa, nor did it cause increase in gastric irritation. No impact on the acute toxicity test was identified. In the subchronic toxicity test, serum levels of albumin, total protein and calcium decreased, and creatinine levels increased, suggesting hypercalcemia and possible kidney damage associated with liver damage, given that the majority of these parameters were irreversible. Thus, this work aims to discuss the relationship of the high concentration of calcium in the product with the observed effects.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Drug Evaluation, Preclinical
  • Female
  • Male
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology*
  • Plant Extracts / toxicity*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Rhodophyta / chemistry*
  • Stomach Ulcer / prevention & control*
  • Toxicity Tests, Acute
  • Toxicity Tests, Subchronic


  • Plant Extracts