New Study Documents Equal Absorption & Significant Cost Benefits of Commercial Calcium Carbonate

August 2, 2011

Commercial Calcium Carbonate Vs. Commercial Calcium Citrate

June 2001 (Newstream) -- Americans can help save their bones, while they save substantial money according to a new study published in the June 2001 issue of the Journal of the American College of Nutrition. "Absorbability and Cost-effectiveness in Calcium Supplementation" authored by lead investigator, Robert P. Heaney, MD, Osteoporosis Research Center at Creighton University in Omaha, compared the absorption and cost-effectiveness of single doses (500 mg) of commercially-available Os-Cal(R) calcium carbonate and Citracal(R) calcium citrate in 24 postmenopausal women. Subjects also received single dose encapsulated calcium carbonate and no-load blanks (placebos).

To eliminate any variability in absorptive performance due to vitamin D insufficiency, all subjects were given a vitamin D supplement starting one week before the first test and continuing throughout the study. The researchers evaluated the efficiency of absorption or bioavailability, analyzing serum and urine calcium over a 24-hour period. The study was designed as a randomized, four-period cross-over, and used standard pharmacokinetic analysis of the increment in serum calcium and the decrement in serum parathyroid hormone, as well as urine calcium excretion. Heaney et al concluded that both calcium supplements were absorbed equally, and therefore had equivalent bioavailability.

The authors calculated that Citracal costs between 1.5 and 1.8 times as much as Os-Cal per gram of elemental calcium. To determine the cost effectiveness of the two supplements, researchers factored in the savings in annual health care costs that could result from preventing fractures associated with osteoporosis. The cost benefit analysis of the two supplements documented that treating all people 65 years or older with Os-Cal could yield net savings of up to $478 million in annual health care costs. Because of its higher cost, there were no savings if Citracal supplements were used in place of Os-Cal.

Osteoporosis, or porous bone, is a disease that is a major public health threat for more than 28 million Americans. According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, eight million American women and 2 million men have osteoporosis, and millions more have low bone density. Each year, osteoporosis leads to 1.5 million fractures, often of the hip, spine and wrist. An average of 24 percent of hip fracture patients, age 50 and over, die in a year following their fractures. Estimates of direct national health care costs to treat hip and other bone fractures associated with osteoporosis exceed $15 billion annually. These costs are expected to grow by more than $60 billion by the year 2020 unless more aggressive steps are taken to prevent and treat the disease.

The National Institutes of Health reports that a large percentage of Americans fail to meet currently recommended guidelines for optimal calcium intake and a unified public health strategy is needed to ensure optimal calcium intake in the American population. Americans can help prevent and slow the progression of osteoporosis by following a healthy lifestyle, getting adequate calcium and vitamin D (through dietary sources and calcium supplements, such as Os-Cal), getting bone density tests, and engaging in weight-bearing exercise, such as walking.

Manufactured by GlaxoSmithKline, Os-Cal calcium carbonate is the brand preferred by doctors for women at risk of osteoporosis and has been clinically proven effective to help maintain bone mass in more studies than any other brand. Every batch of Os-Cal is quality-tested to meet USP dissolution standards. This study was funded by Creighton University and a research grant awarded by GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Healthcare.

Call toll-free 1-866-288-0123 weekdays from 10 am to 4:30 pm EST to get an osteoporosis risk assessment chart and to learn more about calcium supplementation. Visit the Os-Cal website at www.oscal.com and TUMS(R) CALCIUM for LIFE(TM) website at www.tums.com.