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Why We Need Calcium

Updated on June 27, 2012

Calcium is the most abundant mineral in the human body with 99% of being stored in the bones and teeth.

The other 1% of calcium is used for critical bodily functions such as vascular contraction/dilation, muscle function, nerve transmission, and hormonal secretion. The level of calcium in the blood is very precisely maintained. If levels are too low, the body will draw the calcium from the bones (which you can think of as a reservoir of calcium).

So if one is chronically low on calcium, one will loose calcium from the bones making the bones more brittle and likely to fracture, a condition known as osteoporosis. Hence, regular intake of calcium is needed to maintain strong bones and to prevent osteoporosis.

Note that having adequate amounts of other minerals and vitamins is also necessary to help prevent osteoprorosis (not just calcium). Zinc, manganese, copper, boron, vitamin D, vitamin B's, and essential fatty acids all may play a role in preventing osteoprorosis.

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Calcium Amounts

The reference RDA value for calcium for individuals between the ages of 19 and 50 are 1000 milligram per day. As we get older, we should increase that value to 1200 mg starting at age 51 for women and starting at age 71 for men. Growing teenagers from 9 to 18 years should also get more at 1300 mg. [reference: NIH Office of Dietary Supplements]


Read also the article Type of Diet to Reduce Kidney Stones where it is explained why calcium from food decrease risk of kidney stone, while calcium supplement increases risk. Most kidney stones are composed of calcium.

Calcium from Foods

Many people are already familiar with the fact that dairy products such as yogurt, cheese, and milk are a good source of calcium. However, what they might not realize is that a 3.25 ounce can of sardines (with bones) have more calcium than a cup of milk. Other seafoods that have calcium are muscles, oysters, prawns, and to a lesser extent salmon.

Many people are lactose-intolerant to the lactose in certain dairy products. So, other foods that are a good source of calcium are tofu, spinach, kale, and broccoli. You can find more food with calcium in the article Calcium from Foods.

Calcium Supplements

It is best to get calcium from foods, and not from supplements. In another article, I explain how calcium from foods reduce the risk of kidney stones, while calcium supplement increase the risk.

Some women like to take calcium supplement to maintain bone health. However, healthy men generally do not need extra calcium supplements (as mentioned on page 81 of The Chemistry of Calm).

But if you do decide to take calcium supplements upon the advice of your doctor, The Real Vitamin and Mineral Book says that calcium citrate or calcium malate are the most absorbable (especially in older people). In his YouTube video, Dr. Mark Hyman recomend at least 600 mg of calcium citrate or chelated versions. But he does not recommend calcium carbonate.

Many recommend taking calcium with vitamin D and magnesium, since those three work together to increase absorbability. [Page 192]

Your body requires vitamin D in order to absorb calcium. That is why they put vitamin D in many calcium supplements and vitamin D into milk. Because vitamin D is not readily found in foods, it is primarily obtained by the body through the sun's UV rays hitting the skin.

The body will be better able to absorb calcium when it is not taken all at once. It is preferred to split the dose into 500 mg at a time. Physical exercise will also increase calcium absorption. And don't use antacids as a calcium supplement.

Note:

If you have any medical condition or taking any medications, you should check with your doctor first before taking supplements. Not all supplements are suitable for all individuals. Author of this article may receive revenue from the display ads and links within content.

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