Calcium citrate
Calcium citrate is the calcium salt of citric acid
Citric acid
Citric acid is a weak organic acid. It is a natural preservative/conservative and is also used to add an acidic, or sour, taste to foods and soft drinks...

. It is commonly used as a food additive
Food additive
Food additives are substances added to food to preserve flavor or enhance its taste and appearance.Some additives have been used for centuries; for example, preserving food by pickling , salting, as with bacon, preserving sweets or using sulfur dioxide as in some wines...

E number
E numbers are number codes for food additives that have been assessed for use within the European Union . They are commonly found on food labels throughout the European Union. Safety assessment and approval are the responsibility of the European Food Safety Authority...

), usually as a preservative
A preservative is a naturally occurring or synthetically produced substance that is added to products such as foods, pharmaceuticals, paints, biological samples, wood, etc. to prevent decomposition by microbial growth or by undesirable chemical changes....

, but sometimes for flavor
Flavor or flavour is the sensory impression of a food or other substance, and is determined mainly by the chemical senses of taste and smell. The "trigeminal senses", which detect chemical irritants in the mouth and throat as well as temperature and texture, are also very important to the overall...

. In this sense, it is similar to sodium citrate
Sodium citrate
Trisodium citrate has the chemical formula of Na3C6H5O7. It is sometimes referred to simply as sodium citrate, though sodium citrate can refer to any of the three sodium salts of citric acid. It possesses a saline, mildly tart flavor. For this reason, citrates of certain alkaline and alkaline earth...

. Calcium citrate is also used as a water softener because the citrate ions can chelate unwanted metal ions. Calcium citrate is also found in some dietary calcium supplements (e.g. Citracal). Calcium makes up 21% of calcium citrate by weight.

Chemical properties

Calcium citrate is an odorless white powder, soluble in cold water.

Like citric acid, calcium citrate has a sour taste. Like other salts, however, it also has a salty taste. This should not be confused with the product commonly found in grocery stores labeled as "sour salt", which is simply powdered citric acid (which only resembles salt superficially).


Calcium citrate is an intermediate in the isolation of citric acid from the fermentation process by which citric acid is produced industrially. The citric acid in the broth solution is neutralized by calcium hydroxide
Calcium hydroxide
Calcium hydroxide, traditionally called slaked lime, is an inorganic compound with the chemical formula Ca2. It is a colourless crystal or white powder and is obtained when calcium oxide is mixed, or "slaked" with water. It has many names including hydrated lime, builders lime, slack lime, cal, or...

, precipitating insoluble calcium citrate. This is then filtered off from the rest of the broth and washed to give clean calcium citrate.

The calcium citrate thus produced may be sold as-is, or it may be converted to citric acid using dilute sulfuric acid.

Biological role

In many individuals, bioavailability
In pharmacology, bioavailability is a subcategory of absorption and is used to describe the fraction of an administered dose of unchanged drug that reaches the systemic circulation, one of the principal pharmacokinetic properties of drugs. By definition, when a medication is administered...

 of calcium citrate is found to be equal to that of the cheaper calcium carbonate
Calcium carbonate
Calcium carbonate is a chemical compound with the formula CaCO3. It is a common substance found in rocks in all parts of the world, and is the main component of shells of marine organisms, snails, coal balls, pearls, and eggshells. Calcium carbonate is the active ingredient in agricultural lime,...

. However, alterations to the digestive tract may change how calcium is digested and absorbed. According to recent research into calcium absorption after gastric bypass surgery, calcium citrate may have improved bioavailability over calcium carbonate in Roux-en-Y gastric bypass patients who are taking calcium citrate as a dietary supplement after surgery. This is mainly due to the changes related to where calcium absorption occurs in the digestive tract of these individuals.

External links

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