Vita4Life: Calcium

On May 20, 2011, in Minerals, Reviews, by Andrea

Vita4Life, as marketed by HELP

So a series of “bariatric” supplements are starting to hit the market again, this time marketed by HELP, or Healthy Everyday Life Products. They include supplements from Vita4Life, Protica collagen protein, and Shakeology amongst other things.

Vita4Life says:

The Best Calcium Supplement for Weight Loss Surgery Patients

Vita4Life! Calcium Malate Formula: Our calcium malate chelate formula is designed to meet the calcium supplementation needs of patients who have undergone all weight loss surgery procedures. We use only the highest quality ingredients in our calcium product. Calcium chelate has been proven to offer maximum absorption properties.

What is Calcium Malate Chelate?

Calcium malate chelate is calcium which has been combined with beneficial amino acids so that the calcium is more rapidly and efficiently absorbed by your body. Calcium malate chelate is not only absorbed more efficiently than other forms of calcium, including calcium citrate and calcium carbonate, but it is retained better in your body tissue such as bone and teeth.

Why did we switch from Calcium Citrate to a Chelated Calcium Malate?

Calcium malate chelate offers more superior absorption properties than calcium citrate. Additionally, chelation allows us to offer you your daily dosage in four capsules daily rather than six.

Vita4Life Calcium Supplement

So this is the label for the calcium for Vita4Life, and if it looks somewhat familiar, it’s because it is -

Journey Healthy Bones Calcium


While the product from Vita4Life does not say DimaCal or Albion, rest assured – Albion holds the patent. It’s easy to see once one begins doing the Google search.

From Albion’s website for patents:


4049 DimaCal™ (Dicalcium Malate) Granular 29% Ca
4050 DimaCal™ (Dicalcium Malate) Powder 29% Ca
4055 Calcium Citrate Malate Powder 20% Ca
4056 Calcium Citrate Malate Granular 20% Ca


So now that we’ve gotten this out of the way, we can go back to discussing Vita4Life as if it is DimaCal, as they are the same product in a different wording.

Journey’s Calcium = Vita4Life’s Calcium

Knowing that Albion is the owner of the patent, we can look through the MANY scientific papers they have put out about their chelates. And folks, this is where it gets fun and interesting.

An amino acid chelate is defined as an ion, either metal or mineral, combined with an organic compound derived from hydrolyzed protein, where portions of the broken down protein are combined with the metal or mineral ion creating a combination ion.  This new ion is now sometimes called a proteinate.

Normally in digestion, a mineral salt (like iron), will be ionized and solubilized in the stomach using the acid pH.  As the mineral cations move from the stomach, after having been changed by the gastric secretions, the duodenum or upper small intestine will absorb the mineral or metal as it passes through.  This absorption requires a very acidic pH (low level).  Cations which are not absorbed in the duodenum or upper small intestine will descend through the small intestine, where the pH increases to a more neutral level, thus making the cations into a precipitate and thus nonabsorbable.  These later get excreted through the feces.

In theory, amino acid chelates are not changed by pH, and therefore are not destroyed by the acidity of the stomach and duodenum.  They are transported intact across the lumen of the small intestine intact via a peptide permease across the cell membrane, and immediately into the portal blood stream, allowing for immediate use by the body.

Unfortunately, the theory does not quite work for weight loss surgical patients from everything I see.

Two patent documents, both granting patents to Albion Laboratories -
Biological Assimilation of Metals – Jensen, Sep. 11, 1979
Amino Acid Chelated Compositions For Delivery To Specific Biological Tissue Sites – Ashmead et al., Sep. 5, 1989

The most these say is that after the proteinate enters the portal blood (aka the blood stream), the amino acid compounded with the mineral or metal will determine where the mineral or metal will tend to go in the body.  It does not state where the chelate actually absorbs along the gastrointestinal tract (stick with me, this is important).

Additionally, Albion did a study on magnesium diglycinate that succinctly states the following:

Data from in vitro studies suggest that magnesium disglycinate and other metal amino acid chelates may be absorbed via dipeptide absorption pathways in the upper small intestine.

Albion follows up with the additional information on their website:

In fact, the absorption pathway of a metal proteinate is unknown.  … Due to pH constraints, minerals from amino acid complexes or digested metal proteinates can only be absorbed in the upper portion of the small intestine (duodenum).

This is not good news for RNY or DSers as we have these parts bypassed. I suppose this is an okay product for AGBers and VSGers. But I would not trust it for us malabsorbers at all.

The sheer fact is that we simply do not know enough about amino acid chelates, especially in our rerouted guts.  When I’ve asked for information, I’ve been met with name dropping and intimidation, or I simply get ignored.  There are too many questions on these forms of or supplements in normal people, much less us special folk.  Let’s face it, our supplements are serious business and we must take them as such.  There’s just too many questions about amino acid chelates for this post-op to feel comfortable suggesting them as a viable source of nutrition.


Related Posts with Thumbnails

10 Responses to “Vita4Life: Calcium”

  1. JaimeK says:

    I read through this once and thought to myself “good grief this must be how folks feel when I go on about quantum theory.” (that is a good thing – lots of information) I went back through and read again to catch all the content. I’m not blowing smoke..your brain is amazing. That being said – I am glad we have someone out here that understands what we should have and what we shouldn’t. So far it seems I have chosen really good vitamins and calcium for myself. Whew! :)

  2. Liz Grigat says:

    Wow! Thanks for deciphering that! Given first and foremost that there are better choices formulated in and of itself if good enough for me. However, after HELP’s issues as of late, was good enough to steer me clear of ANYTHING they would promote! Thanks for the work you do to keep us healthy and informed!!

  3. Nicole says:

    thank you thank you thank you, did i say thank you?
    btw, i want to steal your button still!

  4. Andrea says:

    Nicole – my button?

  5. Dagny says:

    Thanks to information I’ve learned from you recently, I am now noticing how often manufacturers tout absorption in the duodenum as a key benefit of their product. And yeah it’s a great feature! IF YOU HAVE A DUODENUM. Which I DON’T, thank you!! NEEEEEEEEEXT!

  6. mm says:

    Oh. My vague comment did not work. Vague comment.

  7. HearthSpider says:

    Andrea, I had RNY 18 mos. ago. Although my labs have been good, I’m wondering if I am taking the right type of calcium for my needs. I’m currently taking CitraCal after switching from ViActive since i was told the ViActive was the wrong type of calcium for me. good move or would you recommend something else?

  8. Andrea says:

    PLAIN Citracal is good. Any of their new types (Bone Builder, Heart Health, Extended Release) are all bad.

  9. Anni says:

    I sent off for every vitamin sample in the world as a pre-op. As I got them I started to read all the materials that came with them. Yes, I am a label reader and one of “those people” that read the inserts that come with meds either OTC or script. I recieved a few samples from companies, who I now know, are linked close together, either by type & action of the supplement or manufacturer. I ended up trying a lot of vitamins as a pre-op. Fast-forward to now. I was cleaning up my vitamin/protein area the other day and threw away a bunch of unused vitamin samples form various companies. Vita4Life was one of them. Can you guess the rest? I sincerely thank you for this website and the education you provide for people that would easily be swayed by big words and name dropping. Thanks to you, more people are not suffering with deficiencies that they would have had from trusting so-called WLS “professionals.”

Leave a Reply