Product Review: ProCare Health Sea Salted Caramel Calcium Chews

I’m going to be 100% honest with you. I’m sort of “meh” about caramel.

I know, I know, I know. But still. It’s how I feel!

But I just want to make it clear, I don’t hate the stuff. It’s just not my first choice when it comes to my limited threshold for sweet flavors. Those of you who know me, know my sweet of choice is chocolate. And last year, ProCare Health made my dreams come true with a Dark Chocolate calcium that I still take and covet to this day. (By the way click that link if you want to read my review!)

However, I gave the caramel a fair shot. Because whereas caramel isn’t my absolute favorite, I know some of you freaking LOVE the stuff! And so I channeled your energy for this review!

Sea Salted Calcium Chews: What the hell is it?

Let’s start here. To explain what the hell this product is, I turned to the ProCare Health website and, as it turns out, they have a lot to say on the matter! Check it out:

Enjoy the creamy texture of our NEW Sea Salted Caramel chew while getting your calcium, vitamin D and a dose of probiotics!

Our Caramel Calcium Chew is specially formulated for bariatric patients and delivers calcium in a non-gritty way.  Each chew provides 500 mg TruCal® calcium, 500 IU of vitamin D3 to support calcium absorption, and also contains 500 million CFU’s of probiotics to help with digestion.  All that is packed in a delicious caramel soft chew that you will love to take!

Sweetened with tapioca syrup and raw cane sugar there are no artificial sweeteners or sugar alcohols, so you can feel confident you are maintaining your optimum calcium levels to support your healthy, active lifestyle.

If you find taking calcium tablets difficult, individually-wrapped soft chews make a great alternative that makes it easy to nourish your bones anytime, anywhere and with or without food.

So there are a few things that jump out at me there and, if you are a true Bariatric Foodie, they jumped out to you too. We’re getting to that. I promise!

But first, one of the first things I get asked about this product is, “What is TruCal calcium, and is it the same as calcium citrate?” Because we are advised after WLS to take calcium citrate. It’s drilled into our heads: calcium citrate!

I reached out directly to the folks at ProCare, who had this to say:

Trucal® is an all natural, lactose free calcium with higher absorption than that of calcium carbonate, and equal too or greater than calcium citrate. Unlike other calcium forms, Trucal® offers a balanced profile of essential minerals and antioxidants. (All the healthy parts of milk with very low lactose) Thus, making Trucal® the superior choice for achieving your optimal bone health.

Like Calcium Citrate, TruCal does not require stomach acid for absorption, is non-constipating, does not increase the risk for kidney stones, and you don’t have to consume food with it. Making TruCal a comparable, if not more complete, calcium option than Calcium Citrate.

They also link to this video to learn more about Trucal. Give it a watch. I’m curious about your thoughts!

The Nutrition

When we talk about the nutrition in vitamins, we are not just talking about calories, carbs, and protein. We are also talking about the nutrients in the vitamin…as in…does it have what it says it has, and is that enough for you?

Working off of that definition, let’s talk about these vitamins. (All information is from the ProCare Health website, where you can go to check out the full product info!)

So far as macro-nutrients, each chew has: 15 calories, 0g fat, 3g of carbohydrates, 2g sugars and no protein.

Now for micro-nutrients each serving (one chew) has: 500 IU of Vitamin D3, 500 mg calcium and 500 CFU’s of probiotics per chew. It is also free of sugar alcohols, is kosher, non-GMO and gluten-free.

The ASMBS has different calcium recommendations for each surgery and they can vary from 1,200 mg a day (for RNY and Sleeve patients) all the way up to 2,400 mg a day for Duodenal Switch patients. It is noteworthy that the ASMBS recommendations don’t include Tru-Cal in its recommendations.

The Aesthetics

The packaging is all pretty standard fare. The caramels are pretty small, rectangular, and wrapped in a bit of colorful foil. When you open them, you get…a caramel. Now, caramel lovers know that can mean one of a few things, so let me get a bit more specific.

This is a soft caramel, but not gooey. That is to say it’s not a hard candy, but it’s not one of those caramels where half the caramel will stick to the wrapper when you open it and you find yourself scraping it with your nails and then trying to extract it from your nails for weeks after. That’s not the experience you want, and it’s not the experience that ProCare wants for you! It’s soft but it’s firm at most temperatures. I’ve carried these for a while and the only time it went super soft was when I left one in my car in the middle of summer. Yeah. That wasn’t pretty.

The Taste

Ok so now it’s time to talk about the second thing you might have noticed in the product description above. It has cane sugar in it. Yep. It does.

Two grams of sugar total. Two.

Now don’t get me wrong. This created the exact same conflict in my mind as it probably does in yours. You vacillate between thinking, “It’s only 2 grams…” and “But it’s SUGAR!” and wondering whether the whole “two grams” thing is  a valid argument or a justification.

I’ll get to that in a minute, but for now I will say that one thing I immediately appreciated about this product was that it did not have a yucky aftertaste. Many sugar-free caramel products do. And it’s not their fault. Inherently, caramel is sugar. Caremelized sugar. With some cream and butter. So to take the core ingredient of something and make it artificial is going to have an effect. It’s sort of the reason I don’t eat sugar-free pecan pie (yes that’s a thing).

S’anyway, all that is to say the taste of this caramel is pretty true. It’s a sweet (but not offensively sweet) caramel with just a touch of salt. I actually could go for more salt but I am no vitamin expert, so I have no idea if increased sodium would deactivate some nutrient or yadda, yadda.

Moving on!

I know this isn’t a flavor note but it’s very, very chewy. Like you’re gonna be chewing on that sucker for a minute. And after that you’ll probably spend some time working your tongue around your teeth to extract caramel from it. From conversations with caramel-loving friends, that’s actually a good thing. (Shrugs) For me, since I have more than my fair share of cavity fillings, it’s an interesting and sometimes time consuming thing. But your mileage may vary!

The Cost

Let’s talk dollars and cents. How much does this stuff cost???

According to the ProCare website, this product comes two ways:

  • A 30-ct. bag ($11.99 or $0.40/ caramel)
  • A 90-ct. supply (3 bags of the 30-ct. or $0.33/caramel)

Keeping in mind that most of us take several doses of calcium over the course of a day, the 90-ct. supply may be a good option however that’s where my mind wanders back to that two grams of sugar. Because two grams of sugar in one dose of yummy calcium is negligible. But if I’m talking about taking them for all my calcium doses every day? That’s something entirely different.

The good news for me is that I don’t take this as my sole calcium. While I do use ProCare Health calcium daily, I usually use it once daily. As a treat. For my other doses I use a pretty generic calcium. That’s because of the calorie/sugar count but also to make the ProCare stuff last longer. I have both the Sea Salted Caramel and Dark Chocolate calcium on hand and interspersing doses between a generic calcium makes them last longer.

Longer lasting nummies = a happier Nikki.

Be sure to check out the Sea Salted Calcium Soft chews on the ProCare Health website!