Calcium is by far the most important mineral our body requires, and the one we are most likely to be deficient of.
An adult body contains about three to four pounds of calcium. Ninety-nine percent is found in bones and teeth, with the other 1% distributed throughout the body in fluids and tissue.
When our body is in a balanced state it can store calcium reserves, and in stress situations this reserve is used. If our body has no reserve calcium then it will take the calcium it needs from our bones, usually the spine and pelvic bones.
Humans reach peak bone mass around age 25. By 40 to 50, the resorption, or tearing down, may start to exceed the deposition or building up. This is how our total bone mass can start to gradually decline leading to osteoporosis. Women over the age of 50 (postmenopausal) are most at risk but younger people and older men are at risk too.
- Builds and maintains bones and teeth
- Regulates heart rhythm
- Aids vitality and endurance
- Helps maintain proper nerve and muscle function
- Aids in normal blood clotting
- May help to lower blood pressure
- May reduce the risk of colon cancer
- Eases insomnia
- Aids in the absorption of many nutrients
Most dietary calcium comes from dairy products, and scientific research has shown that this is a good source of calcium that the body readily absorbs.
When choosing a calcium supplement, research has shown that calcium citrate/malate (CCM) is absorbed better than calcium carbonate. Calcium citrate/malate is the form of calcium most recommended by doctors.
New guidelines have been established for calcium intake that are up to 50% higher than previous recommendations.
Ages 19 to 50 – 1,000 mg daily
Adults over age 51 – 1,200 mg daily
Studies have shown that the average daily amount of calcium consumed by Americans is about 500-1,000 mg.
Symptoms of Deficiency
- Muscles cramps
- Heart palpitations
- Poor growth
- Tooth decay
- Osteoporosis (loss of bone mass)
- Brittle nails
- Aching joints
- Softening of bones
- Brittle bones
Vitamin D is needed to properly absorb calcium. Stress and immobilization can reduce your bodie’s ability to absorb calcium.
Foods like spinach, cocoa, soybeans and foods high in phosphates (this may include carbonated cola drinks) can interfere with the absorption of calcium into your body.
A light meal allows better absorption of calcium than an empty stomach. Caffeine increases the loss of calcium through the kidneys
- Dairy foods
- Salmon (with bones)
- Green leafy vegetables
- Blackstrap molasses
The Micronutrient Information Center can provide more specific information about calcium.