Calcium ascorbate is one of the mineral ascorbates, or mineral salts of ascorbic acids. It combines calcium, a mineral, with ascorbic acid, also known as vitamin C. The addition of calcium salts to ascorbic acid buffers the acidity of the ascorbic acid, making it much easier for a person to digest the mineral salt and for it to be absorbed by the digestive tract. The combination is also convenient in that it provides supplementation for both calcium and vitamin C in one dose. Generally, 1,000 milligrams of calcium ascorbate provide approximately 900 milligrams of vitamin C and 100 milligrams of calcium.
Vitamin C is an essential vitamin and antioxidant, providing vital functions such as boosting the immune system and destroying free radical cells that can cause cancer. Calcium is essential for strong bone and teeth development. Combined into supplements, calcium ascorbate provides necessary nutrients while minimizing gastrointestinal discomforts such as diarrhea and nausea. This substance is especially helpful for severely ill patients who require increased nutrition for recovery but are unable to tolerate the more acidic supplements such as vitamin C.
Available in powder, chewable tablets and oral tablets, calcium ascorbate is best taken with food. Food slows down the digestive system, allowing the body to slowly absorb the calcium ascorbate supplement into the bloodstream and thus receive maximum benefits. Slow-release capsules are available for patients who are unable to consume food. Studies have shown that the absorption rate of calcium ascorbate remains largely the same no matter whether it is taken as a powder or as capsules.
This supplement is not without risks, however. Vitamin C is water-soluble, which means that the body flushes it out of the body through the urinary tract. Even so, excessive vitamin C intake of 500 milligrams or more has shown that it might cause damage to healthy DNA and increase the chances of hemochromatosis, a disease in which the body stores too much iron. High levels of calcium might cause kidney stones, soft tissue calcification and renal insufficiency.
Calcium ascorbate has limited uses. Besides supplements, it also is used as a food supplement source of vitamin C and as an additive to keep fruits fresh. It is added to freshly cut fruits and vegetables to prevent them from turning brown and to extend their shelf life.