When you go shopping for groceries, you probably aren’t picking broccoli just for its high glucaric acid content. But this often-overlooked nutrient plays a key role in liver metabolism and is vital for your ability to remove toxins and excess hormones. Its cousin, calcium-D-glucarate, is used in supplements. Read on to find out what you need to know about the benefits (and unconfirmed myths) surrounding this natural detoxifier.
What is Calcium D-Glucarate?
Calcium-D-glucarate is the salt form of D-glucaric acid, a close chemical relative of glucose. Like sugar, glucaric acid is found naturally in many fruits and vegetables. But unlike sugar, the gut converts glucaric acid into a compound (D-glucaro-1,4-lactone) that blocks an enzyme called beta-glucuronidase [1, 2, 3, 4].
Beta-glucuronidase reduces the liver’s detox ability, allowing toxins to re-enter the blood. Diets rich in fat and protein increase the amount of beta-glucuronidase in the body. High levels of this enzyme have been linked to inflammation and certain forms of cancer [5, 6, 7, 8, 9].
- Improve detoxification: helps more effectively remove dietary, environmental, and drug-related toxins from the body
- Hormonal balance: lowers excess steroid hormones, like estrogen
- Reduced cholesterol: reduces LDL cholesterol and triglycerides
- Antioxidant: protects blood proteins and cells from free radical damage
Glucaric acid is the naturally-occurring form of calcium-D-glucarate. While it is produced in small amounts within the body, the vast majority comes from your diet. It’s abundant in citrus fruits and leafy vegetables, some of the best sources being [2, 13]:
- Grapefruit, oranges, and lemons
- Apples, peaches, plums, apricots, and sweet cherries
- Cabbage, Brussels sprouts, spinach, broccoli, and cauliflower (“cruciferous” vegetables)
Other food sources include grapes, carrots, alfalfa sprouts, potatoes, corn, cucumber, lettuce, celery, green pepper, tomato, and mung bean sprouts.
Fruits and vegetables contain variable amounts of glucaric acid, ranging from 0.1 grams per kilogram (2.2 lbs) in lettuce, to 3.5 grams per kilogram in apples and grapefruit. However, studies are conflicted on whether a diet rich in fruits and vegetables provides enough glucaric acid for the detox benefits [14, 15].
Snapshot of Calcium D-Glucarate
- Helps remove toxins from the body
- Lowers excess estrogens
- May lower cholesterol
- May decrease the risk of cancer
- Naturally part of a healthy diet
- Safe even at very high doses
- Limited research on benefits in humans
- Megadoses might be required for strong detox benefits
- Interacts with prescription drugs
Health Benefits of Calcium D-Glucarate
1) Enhances Detox
Your gut converts calcium-D-glucarate into glucaric acid, which helps the liver clear toxins. It improves phase II liver detox, allowing the removal of fat-soluble compounds like pesticides and other toxic chemicals [16, 17, 18].
2) May Lower Cholesterol
One rat study showed that adding the active form of glucaric acid to the rats’ diet prevented them from developing high cholesterol .
3) May Lower High Estrogen Levels
The liver removes excess hormones from the blood, including estrogen and estradiol, as well as estrogen-like chemicals found in the environment (xenoestrogens). Several weeks of high-dose calcium-D-glucarate lowered blood estradiol by 23% in animals .
Based on this, clinical reviews recommended calcium-D-glucarate supplementation at 1000 mg – 3000 mg daily for conditions involving high estrogen levels, such as PMS, fibroids, and polycystic ovary syndrome [27, 28, 1].
4) Anti-Cancer Potential
A great deal of research has investigated the role of glucaric acid in preventing and treating cancer, mostly in animals.
In one clinical trial, calcium-D-glucarate reduced beta-glucuronidase in a sample of smokers and non-smokers. At high levels, this enzyme hinders the removal of cancer-causing chemicals, possibly increasing lung cancer risk. The dosage was increased from 1.5 grams to 9 grams per day over the 6 weeks .
Excess Estrogens & Breast Cancer
Other Cancer Types
Rats exposed to a liver carcinogen were less likely to develop tumors with calcium-D-glucarate in their diets .
The dosages and methods in the studies wildly varied. Without proper clinical studies, it’s impossible to say if calcium-d-glucarate has anti-cancer effects or not.
5) Antioxidant Effects
In one animal study, the active form of calcium-D-glucarate prevented organ damage in diabetic rats .
Calcium-d-glucarate has antioxidant potential, but we still don’t know just how beneficial this is for humans.
Benefits Lacking Evidence
Some people report benefits for:
- Weight control
- Hair loss
These are only anecdotal; research is lacking to support supplementing in such cases.
Limitations and Caveats
Despite promising animal studies, barely a handful of human clinical trials using calcium-D-glucarate exist. This makes it very difficult to discuss dosages or any specific benefits. We know it plays a role in healthy metabolism and is a natural part of our diet, but much less is known about its helpfulness as a supplement.
Calcium D-Glucarate Side Effects & Warnings
So far, the few clinical trials performed have shown no side effects or toxicity related to calcium-D-glucarate or glucaric acid. It was safe even at extremely high doses (27 grams per kilogram of body weight), and excess glucaric acid is removed through the urine. There is no known toxic or lethal dose [48, 1].
Safety During Pregnancy & Breastfeeding
If you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, avoid calcium-d-glucarate supplements due to the lack of safety data. There is no known risk of eating fruits and vegetables containing glucaric acid, so you can eat these as usual.
One major caveat to keep in mind is that increased liver detox may affect the metabolism of prescription drugs. Your liver could potentially remove pharmaceuticals from the body faster than normal with high calcium-D-glucarate consumption.
Drugs to pay additional caution to include acetaminophen, digoxin, statins, benzodiazepines, opioids, anticonvulsants, and some antibiotics.
If you take prescription drugs, talk to your doctor before supplementing.
There is no research supporting the existence of “detox symptoms” with calcium-D-glucarate. Some users have complained of hormone-related problems resulting from supplementation. These include:
- Weight gain
- Worsened PMS symptoms
- Emotional disturbances (depression, anxiety, mood swings)
People have reported similar side effects when starting new supplements, making major changes to their diet, and during “juice cleanses”. This has led to the labeling of these side effects as detox symptoms. However, studies of several detox diets did not find any symptoms directly related to improvements in liver detoxification [49, 50, 51].
Effects on Testosterone
In theory, glucaric acid could allow the body to remove any excess steroid hormones at a higher than normal rate, including testosterone. Some claim that it will balance testosterone in men by helping them get rid of too much estrogen. However, the effects of calcium-d-glucarate on testosterone haven’t been researched.
Calcium D-Glucarate Supplements & Dosage
Glucaric acid is the natural form found in the diet, and calcium-D-glucarate is an ingredient in supplements. The supplements are typically sold as 200mg, 300mg, and 500mg capsules. Since the active form is processed in the gut, it is best taken by mouth.
DIM (diindolylmethane) is another nutrient found in cruciferous vegetables. DIM improves Phase I liver detoxification, a crucial step for neutralizing toxins and excess hormones.
Calcium-D-glucarate helps Phase II detoxification, and may work synergistically when combined with DIM.
In one clinical trial with 95 women, a combination supplement containing DIM and calcium-d-glucarate – along with several other plant-based nutrients – improved estrogen metabolism after 28 days .
Both are available either as separate supplements or combined into products marketed for liver detox and hormonal balance. DIM is usually dosed at 100-200mg daily alone or in tandem with calcium-D-glucarate [53, 54].
In human trials for cancer prevention, dosages ranged from 1.5 to 9 grams per day, although the generally recommended oral dosage is 1.5 to 3 grams daily .
You would need to eat at least 1 kilogram (2.2 lbs) of fruit and vegetables in a day to get the same amount. But because of the lack of research, the optimal dosage and timing are still unknown.
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Calcium-D-glucarate is the main ingredient in a number of detox supplements. Its relative, glucaric acid, is naturally found in various fruits and vegetables, such as grapefruit, apples, and broccoli.
The detox action of calcium-d-glucarate could help with many issues arising from the modern, industrialized lifestyle: toxic exposure, pollution, high environmental estrogens, and hormonal disturbances. It may help your liver work in full speed at removing these toxins, which also aids cancer prevention.
Despite a surge in research, we still know very little about the benefits of calcium-d-glucarate in humans. It’s generally safe but best used in moderation.