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Can I Give Calcium Citrate Instead of Ground Egg Shells?

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I wanted to supplement my cat with calcium citrate instead of egg shells. I have read that without acid minerals are not bioavailable. What are your thoughts?

Jesse's Answer

When you feed a raw meat diet, a carnivore produces 15 times more hydrochloric acid in the stomach than us humans.

A carnivore produces a lot of acid to break down bones, skin, blood, digest meat, fur, feathers, etc... and this strong acid is what helps the carnivore extract the calcium from its diet. That's why, dogs and cats eating a commercial diet or cooked meat diet have poor calcium absorption because the cooked meat diets shut down the body's production of hydrochloric acid.

So I am not sure why someone would say that calcium citrate is better for our carnivore friends because that's just calcium... with egg shells, it's a whole food with all of its supportive minerals too. It's better for the body when it gets a whole team of nutrients rather than just an isolated nutrient. So in ground egg shells you also get magnesium, sodium, potassium, sulphur, etc plus amino acids.

Personally, I never give nor suggest giving a pure calcium supplement... it's better when it comes from a food source such as ground egg shells. In nature, our carnivore friends also get some calcium from blood. Blood is also a source of calcium because blood transports the calcium to the other parts of the body. But the meat we feed is drained of blood and thus we must supplement the food with a calcium supplement. Contrary to popular belief, bones are not the only natural source of calcium for our pets. Our pets would also get calcium from other sources including blood, egg shells, even possibly soil which the prey is often covered in.

In nature, the carnivore doesn't always eat the bones. If you watch a lion eating a zebra, then you will notice that the lion leaves the bones and just eats the meat. The hyenas then come along and eat the bones. If a lion were to catch a baby gazelle though, then due to the size of the meal the lion would eat the bones too. A cat will eat the bones of a bird but if a cat caught a rabbit, the cat would leave the bones and just eat the meat. The arctic wolf will eat the arctic hare, bones and all, but if the artic wolf catches a musk oxen, the arctic wolf just eats the meat and leaves the bones.

So bones are not the only natural source of calcium for our pets that we know of because and there could be other sources of calcium that we are not aware of yet. However, people have become fixated on bones as the best or ounly source of calcium because everyone knows that bones contain calcium. But bones also contain a high amount of phosphorus and that can be a concern... since meat is already high in phosphorus and low in calcium and thus feeding bones as the only calcium source may not help balance the calcium to phosphorus ratio. This is, my own personal opinion based on my own experiences and the feedback provided by others.

Blood is an interesting source of calcium since fresh prey is loaded with blood. But since blood is not available in supplement form, I only use ground egg shells with great success too because ground egg shells are very high in calcium yet contain almost no phosphorus.

For a human, calcium citrate is okay while for a human, ground egg shells is not good because we humans don't produce enough hydrochloric acid in our stomachs to get the calcium from the ground egg shells.

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