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What Is Calcium Lactate?

Antacids containing calcium lactate.
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  • Written By: Paul Scott
  • Edited By: R. Halprin
  • Last Modified Date: 12 July 2014
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Calcium lactate is a compound produced by exposing calcium carbonate to lactic acid. The result is a white, crystalline calcium salt found in various medicinal and food industry applications. Medicinally, the compound is used as an antacid, dietary calcium supplement and as a component of several mouthwash products. Food industry applications of calcium lactate include raising agents in the baking industry and shelf life enhancer for fruits. Calcium lactate dietary supplements should only be taken under the supervision of a doctor because excessive calcium intakes may impair certain biological functions and even cause severe allergic reactions in rare cases.

Calcium lactate is a crystalline salt produced by treating calcium carbonate with lactic acid and has a variety of food- and medicine-related uses based on its strong calcium content. Probably the best known of these are a wide range of calcium supplements available in tablet and powdered form. Calcium is an essential component in several biological functions including bone mineralization, muscle contraction, cell membrane maintenance, and nerve conduction. Calcium deficiencies can cause significant health problems requiring supplementation with agents such as calcium lactate. Antacid and mouthwash preparations are other medicinal uses of calcium lactate.

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The food industry utilizes this form of calcium in a number of applications such as raising agents in commercial baking or in low sugar foods to prevent tooth decay. The compound is also frequently used in conjunction with xylitol in chewing gums, a combination which promotes remineralization of tooth enamel. Calcium lactate is added to cheese to speed up aging, and small crystals of the compound are often exuded from ripened cheeses. The compound is often used to increase the shelf life of cut fruit and is generally preferred to other agents such as calcium chloride for this type of application as it leaves no bitter after taste.

Although the value of supplements containing this calcium compound are unquestionable, mention should be made of the potential dangers of their overuse. Calcium absorbed in excess may have serious, long-term effects on general health with malabsorption syndrome being the most common. This condition develops when the body's ability to absorb or assimilate other crucial minerals is impaired due to excessively high calcium levels, thereby potentially leading to secondary conditions including malnutrition and anemia. Other symptoms of calcium overdoses and allergic reactions include constipation, nausea, muscle pain, headaches, intense thirst, and chronic fatigue. Calcium lactate should therefore be only used subject to a doctor's approval and supervision; any side effects should be reported immediately.

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