The best calcium gummies in the world?
June 11, 2014 10:58 AM   Subscribe

My lactose intolerance has worsened in the past year and so I've gone from eating yogurt/ice cream/cheese a few times a week to more like 1-2 times a month. Dairy and calcium intake has always been bad (i.e. low), but I have a new resolve to fix the problem... please help me find the perfect supplement or strategy!

I'm lactose-intolerant and prefer to eat a naturally dalry-free diet, minimizing lactase pills and dairy substitutes (I cook Asian style so I've been lucky to be able to eat most of the same things I always did). But it's obvious to me that I need to supplement my calcium intake, because it was an issue before my dietary restriction and is even more of a problem now.

Approaches I've already tried and failed:

1) Drinking milk. I have a lifelong aversion to the taste and consistency of milk. I refused to drink it as soon as I was old enough to argue about food, and Lactaid milk isn't any more appealing. Nor do I enjoy eating or drinking creamy foods. So adding milk to my diet is out.

I do have a fondness for fancy cheeses (uncooked) and yogurt. I have tried goat's and sheep's milk yogurt, and while they upset my stomach less than normal yogurt, I can't eat them every day without feeling sick.

2) Calcium supplement pills. Problem: they're huge, even cut in half, so half the time the pill gets painfully stuck in my throat and I can't keep up the habit of taking them.

I do have Vitamin D pills that are very small in size and I could take those daily, but will it do any good if I'm getting little calcium?

3) Calcium chocolate chews. Had an unpleasant aftertaste that turned me off.

4) Calcium gummy supplements. I can only seem to find one brand, designed as gummy bears for kids. I LOVE gummy multivitamins and would happily eat those like candy, but the ones I've seen contain <10% RDV calcium. The calcium-only kind are a markedly different consistency and some of the flavors are pretty bad. I suppose I could buy a bottle and throw out half of it, only eating the flavors that are okay, but that seems like a waste. I'm also hoping that there are more options out there in this realm, something closer to the taste and consistency of regular multivitamin gummies...

I think #4 is probably my best hope, although maybe there's a lactaid-milk Greek yogurt product that I don't know about. I'm also open to any other ideas!
posted by serelliya to Food & Drink (25 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
You don't say which children's gummies you tried, but I use and LOVE the L'il Critters calcium gummies. They taste like candy and I consider them a treat. They sell them at Costco if you have a Costco membership.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 11:02 AM on June 11, 2014

Soy milk? It doesn't taste exactly like milk but you get used to it.
posted by desjardins at 11:03 AM on June 11, 2014

Misread - how about soy ice cream then?
posted by desjardins at 11:03 AM on June 11, 2014

rabbitrabbit: The L'il Critters calcium gummies from Costco are exactly the ones I've tried. The consistency is totally different from their regular gummy multivitamins though (which I prefer), and the cherry flavor reminds me of traumatizing Tylenol syrup from my childhood.

If anyone knows of a different brand, I'd love to hear it!
posted by serelliya at 11:07 AM on June 11, 2014

These Vitafusion Fiber+Calcium Prenatal Support gummies are awesome, I think they're delicious (and I hate the chocolate calcium chews as well). They're marketed as a prenatal vitamin, but I see no reason why - they're just fiber, a little phosphorus, and calcium. Each chew is 25% of the (nonpregnant) RDA.
posted by insectosaurus at 11:08 AM on June 11, 2014

Green Valley Organics makes lactose-free dairy yogurt in 5-6 flavours

Finlandia makes lactose-free dairy cheeses: swiss, havarti, and muenster

Also, you say "it's obvious to me that I need to increase my calcium intake" - has any doctor confirmed this?
posted by elizardbits at 11:08 AM on June 11, 2014

Lactaid also makes ice creams, although only in chocolate and vanilla.
posted by elizardbits at 11:09 AM on June 11, 2014

I didn't like the calcium chocolate chews either, but the Viactiv Caramel flavor was pretty good the last time I had it. No weird aftertaste.
posted by belladonna at 11:09 AM on June 11, 2014

Have you tried almond milk? There are many other non-dairy foods that contain calcium, just use the google to find them.
posted by mareli at 11:11 AM on June 11, 2014 [1 favorite]

I dislike milk as well, but I like almond milk in my smoothies just fine.

What about adding more leafy greens to your diet? Kale and spinach have calcium. Broccoli has quite a bit too.

Has any doctor told you that you need to supplement your calcium intake? I ask because I also avoid dairy, don't drink milk, don't take supplements, and get plenty of calcium from almond milk, tofu, and veggies--I track what I eat daily in myfitnesspal, which also tracks calcium intake. You might want to track what you eat for a few days to get an estimate about the calcium you are consuming from the food you eat.
posted by inertia at 11:21 AM on June 11, 2014 [3 favorites]

Excerpted from this, "Dairy is not the only good source of calcium.
You can find calcium (in bioavailable forms and significant amounts) in a wide variety of non-dairy, nutrient-dense foods, including vegetables, meat and seafood, nuts and seeds.

Vegetable sources of calcium include kale, spinach (cooked), collard greens, mustard greens, turnip greens and bok choy, and sea vegetables like nori.
Meat and seafood sources include organ meats, bone broth, small fish (like sardines), shrimp, oysters and canned salmon (with bones).
Nut and seed sources include almonds, hazelnuts and walnuts."
posted by ms_rasclark at 11:23 AM on June 11, 2014 [2 favorites]

When you take pills, have several sips of water first; it will make pills easier to swallow. The information on dietary calcium tends to be conflicting on what forms are taken up successfully. But eating more leafy, calcium-rich greens, and more Vitamin D is generally recommended. You can also preserve bone by engaging in weight-bearing activity like active exercise, dancing, weight-lifting. Even brisk walking will help.
posted by theora55 at 11:32 AM on June 11, 2014

Here's another Vitafusion calcium gummy, without the "prenatal" label: Vitafusion Calcium, 500mg + Vitamin D. They have kind of a "creamy" flavor that I didn't love, but they're quite tolerable.
posted by teditrix at 11:33 AM on June 11, 2014

Sardines are nature's calcium gummy. Make sure you're getting the bones and skin.
posted by pullayup at 11:41 AM on June 11, 2014

Aren't calcium supplement pills (i.e., "Tums") supposed to be chewed rather than swallowed whole?
posted by Dansaman at 11:49 AM on June 11, 2014 [1 favorite]

I know you said preferably no pills but this brand is really good - it is easy to swallow, is in a liquid suspension and has other ingredients with it (not just calcium) to increase absorption.

Soy milk fortified with calcium is also a good bet.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 11:49 AM on June 11, 2014

Yeah, seconding just Tums. Find a flavour you like and have at it. That's what I use for supplemental calcium.
posted by csmithrim at 1:06 PM on June 11, 2014

Most Kraft cheeses are lactose free and will be labeled as such near the ingredients. (Also, DiGiorno and Tombstone pizzas use Kraft cheese!) Plus, aged cheeses like cheddar only have trace amounts of lactose -- the longer it's aged, the more lactose gets eaten up by the bacteria. Unless you're really sensitive, you should be able to eat them with no issues.

Also, tins of sardines are a good source of calcium, especially ones with bones if you don't mind a little crunch with your fish.

A note about hard to swallow pills: Tip your head forward when swallowing; it'll open up your throat and help the pill go down a LOT easier. Don't tip your head back thinking gravity will help -- it'll just constrict your throat and make things tougher.
posted by phatkitten at 1:16 PM on June 11, 2014

Tums have lactose in them, unfortunately.

guess how i know
posted by elizardbits at 1:27 PM on June 11, 2014

Nature Made calcium gummies. I looooove these. Even though I'm not pregnant any more, I still hate milk so I take those. BUt when I was preggo and super nauseated by everything, these were easy on my stomach and didn't gross me out.
posted by data hound at 1:46 PM on June 11, 2014

You shouldn't have any problems with hard cheeses (e.g. cheddar) because the lactose is all consumed during the cheese-making process.

Soft cheeses (e.g. mozarella, ricotta) are a different matter.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 1:47 PM on June 11, 2014

elizardbits: my box of Tums Ultrastrength 1000 says this on the ingredient list:
Inactive ingredients: sucrose, calcium carbonate, corn starch, talc,mineral oil, natural and artificial flavors, sodium polyphosphate, red 40 lake, yollow 6 lake, yellow 5 (tartrazine) lake
No sign of lactose in there.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 1:58 PM on June 11, 2014

Lactaid. Their chocolate milk is great. Especially if you put a glass ful in the freezer for two hours. Then eat it with a spoon.
posted by notreally at 2:18 PM on June 11, 2014

There's lots of calcium in seafood and fish, particularly the canned varieties that include the tiny bones, like anchovies and sardines and salmon. Of course, you probably don't want to eat these every week. White beans, deep green leafy vegetables and calcium fortified orange juice are things you might want to eat more frequently, to up your food sources of calcium.

Vitamin D is important for calcium absorption, as it increases the intestine's uptake of calcium, but you do need to ingest calcium, either from food sources or supplements in order for vitamin D to help.
posted by citygirl at 3:52 PM on June 11, 2014

Yummi Bears are the best!
posted by turniphead at 12:00 PM on June 21, 2014

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