Calcium carbonate is a basic inorganic salt that acts by neutralizing hydrochloric acid in gastric secretions. It also inhibits the action of pepsin by increasing the pH and via adsorption. Cytoprotective effects may occur through increases in bicarbonate ion (HCO3-) and prostaglandins. Neutralization of hydrochloric acid results in the formation of calcium chloride, carbon dioxide and water. Approximately 90% of calcium chloride is converted to insoluble calcium salts (e.g. calcium carbonate and calcium phosphate).
Gastric-peptic disease occurs as a result of an imbalance between protective factors, such as mucus, bicarbonate, and prostaglandin secretion, and aggressive factors, such as hydrochloric acid, pepsin, and Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori). Antacids work by restoring acid-base balance, attenuating the pepsin activity and increasing bicarbonate and prostaglandin secretion. The acid-neutralizing capacity of calcium carbonate is 58 mEq/15 ml. When used as a nutritional supplement, calcium carbonate acts by directly increasing calcium stores within the body.