Calcium—we all need it and probably don’t get enough of it. Calcium is the most abundant mineral in the body, essential for the development and maintenance of strong bones and teeth. It is equally necessary for body processes: the clotting of blood, the functioning of nerves, and the contraction of muscles, beginning with the heart. If nerve and muscle cells don’t get enough calcium, they’ll take it from the bones. When this happens over many years, the bones thin out, resulting in osteoporosis.
Osteoporosis is defined as excessive loss of bone mass. Bones break when they become thin and weak. Bone density naturally decreases with age, and accelerates in women once they reach menopause. Osteoporosis is increasingly widespread: In the U.S., one in two women and one in five men have a lifetime risk of developing fractures from osteoporosis and experiencing the loss of independence and vitality that result. (You can learn more about osteoporosis in the Specialty Minerals publication, “Osteoporosis and You.” Click here to download a copy.)
How Much Calcium Is Needed? And How Can It Be Obtained?
A typical adult needs 1,000 milligrams of elemental calcium each day. More is needed by teenagers and young adults, pregnant or nursing mothers, postmenopausal women, and men over 65. Children’s calcium requirements increase with age. Click here to read about the U.S. government’s Recommended Daily Intake (RDI) levels for calcium. This is sometimes also called the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA). Most other industrialized countries have similar recommendations for their citizens.
There are three main ways to get your calcium:
- In the normal diet. Good natural sources of calcium are milk, leafy green vegetables and beans. Yogurt and cheeses also increase your calcium intake. Although these foods are good sources, they do not form a sufficiently large part of most people’s diets.
- In calcium-fortified foods. Many delicious foods have been fortified with calcium by the manufacturers. This site has much additional information doing this.
- From calcium nutritional supplements. The dietary supplement industry makes calcium-containing products in many forms, such as tablets, soft chews, effervescents, and soft gels. Click here to read more about calcium nutritional supplements.
Calcium Carbonate—The Ideal Calcium Source For Fortifying Foods
Most foods that are calcium fortified use calcium carbonate as the fortifying compound, and for many good reasons:
- High bioavailability – Calcium carbonate is one of the most bioavailable salts used for fortification, as bioavailable as the calcium in milk. Its bioavailability is increased when taken with a meal, so including it in a food enhances its absorption.
- High elemental calcium content – With a 40 percent elemental calcium level—two or three times that in some calcium sources—only small weights are needed to provide the desired amount of elemental calcium.
- Economical to purchase – Calcium carbonate is one of the most inexpensive calcium salts.
- Economical in use – Having to use less of an already less-expensive calcium compound yields extremely cost-effective calcium fortification.
- Excellent taste – Today’s calcium carbonate-fortified products simply taste great. When manufacturers choose the right grade, the texture is smooth, and the mouth feel very nice—not at all chalky. Consumers will accept nothing less.
- High purities – Manufacturers who sell products in the State of California must consider the lead limits stipulated in Proposition 65. By producing grades of precipitated calcium carbonate (PCC) with low and ultra-low levels of lead, Specialty Minerals Inc. (SMI) enables food manufacturers to conform to Proposition 65.
- Formulating Flexibility – Over 25 grades of calcium carbonates for food are in the SMI product range. They come in different sizes, from 0.07 micron up to 17 microns, and in a variety of shapes. By varying the calcium carbonate’s size and shape, a formulator can change the properties of the product being formulated, to maximize sensory and physical performance.
Foods Fortified With Calcium Carbonate
It is impossible to keep track of all of the food products that have been successfully calcium fortified with calcium carbonate, and the number grows daily. Click on one of these product types to learn more about fortifying with calcium carbonate, and the SMI products that are best for that type of food:
- Baked goods – breads; cookies or biscuits; crackers and graham crackers; waffles, pancakes and cakes, and the mixes to make them,
- Bars – extruded or baked bars: breakfast, granola, energy, snack,
- Beverages – many types of opaque beverages and beverage mixes, dairy and non-dairy,
- Breakfast cereals, both cold and hot – there are a number of ways to add calcium to cereals. Put it in the batter to make the cereal; in the color, flavor or fruit bits used in or on or with the shape; in a coating on the cereal form or on the bits; or as a blend of dry powders in the individual serving pouches of instant oatmeal or grits,
- Chewing Gum – sticks or coated pieces of regular or bubble gums,
- Chocolates and other Candy – hard candies, sugar-free chocolates, nougats, caramels, cream fillings,
- Frozen desserts – ice cream, frozen soy dessert, frozen yogurts,
- Infant Formulas – for healthy babies and babies with special dietary needs,
- Ingredient enrichment – flours, meals and grains: wheat, corn, rice, oats,
- Liquid meals and liquid meal supplements – to replace a meal, to add nutrition to a meal, for dieting or slimming, for diabetics and others with special dietary needs,
- Milks – cow’s milk and milks from other animals, pasteurized or UHT processed, in natural forms or flavored,
- Pastas – macaroni, spaghetti, noodles, couscous, ramen, instant noodles,
- Pet Foods – dry kibble, moist-pouch or wet-canned animal foods,
- Powdered Drink Mixes – flavored milks and mixes to flavor milks, energy drinks, protein drinks,
- Probiotics – the newest fortified functional food,
- Snacks – snack crackers, pretzels, as well as the cheese or other fillings in them,
- Soymilks – which tend to have little natural calcium, refrigerated or shelf stable,
- Tofu – healthy and plant based,
- Yogurts – bulk fermented yogurts, drinkable yogurts and yogurt-based smoothies.
Some manufacturers add the vitamins and minerals to their food products as a premix, to reduce the number of ingredients that must be weighed, and are often used in small amounts. Premixes also ensure that none of the minor ingredients are left out. When ordering a premix from a company that specializes in their preparation, specify the exact grade of SMI calcium carbonate that you have used to optimize your new product, to ensure that it keeps the wonderful taste and good stability that you have formulated into your product.
Specialty Minerals Calcium Carbonates For Food Fortification
SMI manufactures 28 different grades of calcium carbonates for foods. In the seven families of products are PCCs, including ranges of low and ultra-low lead PCCs for California Proposition 65-compliant uses, nano PCCs, ground calcium carbonate (GCC), and ground limestone. These are the CalEssence®, Calopake®, Sturcal™ and ViCALity® PCC families, Calofort® U and Multifex-MM® USP nano PCCs, ViCALity® GF GCC or ViCALity® HP GCC, and Vicron® ground limestones. Some are manufactured in the U.S. and some in the U.K.
Click here to read more about the members of the SMI healthcare calcium carbonate families, their sizes, shapes, and manufacturing locations, as well as the regulations with which they comply.
Then click here to learn how to choose the grade that is right for your product.
- Specialty Minerals calcium carbonates for food, nutritional supplements, pharmaceuticals, and personal care products
- Choosing the right grade of Specialty Minerals calcium carbonate for consumer products
- U.S. Recommended Daily Intake (RDI) for Calcium
- Useful information for formulators: Downloadable information sheets on formulating with calcium carbonate, the effect of particle size and shape in a product, high bioavailability of calcium carbonate, California Proposition 65 lead limits and calcium carbonate lead levels.
- Osteoporosis: Anyone Can Be At Risk—Even You! A downloadable information sheet
- Specialty Minerals minerals in consumer products: See all the products you use every day – foods, nutritional supplements, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, toiletries and other personal care items – which use Specialty Minerals talcs and calcium carbonates
- What is Ground Calcium Carbonate (GCC) / Limestone? A minerals introductory webpage
- What is Precipitated Calcium Carbonate (PCC)? A minerals introductory webpage
- What is Precipitated Calcium Carbonate (PCC) for Healthcare? - A downloadable information sheet
- What is Nano Precipitated Calcium Carbonate (PCC)? A minerals introductory webpage
- Download technical data sheets and MSDS for Specialty Minerals products
- Request a sample
- About Specialty Minerals Inc.
- Quality, GMP and ISO at Specialty Minerals
- Consumer product exhibitions: Where we are participating, and where you can talk to Specialty Minerals staff about your formulations.
- Specialty Minerals consumer product publications: Downloadable papers on food, pharmaceutical and nutritional supplement applications
- Useful consumer product websites