Calcium is a mineral, that is abundantly found in the human body. It is an integral part of our skeletal system and is required for carrying out a few crucial chemical reactions in the body. Bone calcium, is used as a storage, and when there is shortage of this mineral in the body, it is released into the blood stream via the bones.
Many of us may not be eating enough calcium, making our bones soft and eventually brittle. Calcium is lost from the body through urine, stools, bile and sweat, so we must supplement the body with calcium rich foods in order to carry out functions mentioned below.
Main functions of Calcium In The Body
- Calcium is vital for strong bones, cartilage, muscle, and teeth.
- It helps prevent gingivitis in children and it needed for muscle contraction and relaxation.
- It is vital in transmission of nerve impulses, important for blood clotting.
- It also helps regulate passage of nutrients across cell walls and is needed for normal heartbeat as it helps regulate blood pressure.
- Calcium supplements have been shown to reduce blood cholesterol levels; slows rate of bone loss linked to osteoporosis; slows loss of teeth in older people; protects bones and teeth from lead by inhibiting its absorption.
Interesting Facts – Dairy/Non Dairy
Calcium bioavailability from plant foods can be affected by their contents of oxalate and phytate (‘anti-nutrients’), which are inhibitors of calcium absorption.
Dairy calcium was more significantly correlated with bone mass than was nondairy calcium as it is more bioavailable. So for each 300mg of Calcium provided by plant sources, supplements or fortified beverages; would provide about the same amount of absorbable calcium as 1 glass (240 mL) of milk.
As the intake of dietary protein increases, the urinary excretion of calcium increases. This happens because of decreased fractional tubular reabsorption. As a result – as the protein intake doubles, so does the urinary calcium excretion by another 50%.
Top Sources Of Calcium
|Milk, full fat||1 cup||290.4|
|Collards, frozen, boiled||1 cup||357|
|Skim milk||1 cup||306|
|Yogurt, plain, whole milk||8 oz||275|
|Black-eyed peas, boiled||1 cup||211|
|Canned salmon||3 oz||181|
|Calcium-set tofu||3 oz (¼ block)||163|
|Cheese food, pasteurized American||1 oz||162|
|Trail mix (nuts, seeds, chocolate chips)||1 cup||159|
|Baked beans, canned||1 cup||154|
|Cottage cheese, 1% milk fat||1 cup||138|
|Iceberg lettuce||1 head||97|
|Green peas, boiled||1 cup||94|
|Soy milk||1 cup||93|
|Almonds||1 oz (24 nuts)||70|
Recommended intakes of calcium (mg/d) Group Calcium* where a glass of milk is essential!
Consumption of adequate dietary calcium can be accomplished within a variety of tastes and lifestyle choices.
Adult Men 600
Lactation Post-menopausal women 800
Children 1 – 3y 600
4- 6 y 600
7- 9 y 600
10-12 years Boys 800
Girls 800 13-15 years
Girls 800 16–18 years
Boys 800 Girls 800
- There can be impaired bone mineralization which, in children, can cause rickets (bone softening) leading to bone deformities.
- In adults, osteoporosis, characterised by brittle, porous bones and frequent bone fractures, stunted growth and weak joints.
- There can be loss of bone mineralization in the jaw causing tooth decay or periodontal disease
- Severe deficiency can cause excessive nerve activity that leads to spasmodic contractions of skeletal muscles, which can be symptomised by tingling fingers, toes or lips, numbness in arms or legs, and muscle pain or severe muscular cramps or spasms.
- It is also essential for blood coagulation, membrane permeability
A recent article published by ‘Berkley Wellness’ – University of California; states that an upper level intake of 2500 mg/day has been set for adults and that does not cause
Toxicity can cause nausea, vomiting, constipation, dry mouth, thirst, increased urination, kidney stones and soft tissue calcification.
Michelle L. Marcinow, PhD, Janis A. Randall Simpson, PhD, RD, Susan J. Whiting, PhD, Mary E. Jung,PhD, Andrea C. Buchholz, PhD, RD (2017) ‘Young Adults’ Perceptions of Calcium Intake and Health’, Sage Journal
Connie M Weaver, William R Proulx, and Robert Heaney (2009) ‘Choices for achieving adequate dietary calcium with a vegetarian die’. Clinical Nutrition
Berkley Wellness (2017) Calcium Pills: Heartening News