Calcium is a mineral found in many foods milk, cheese, broccoli... The body needs calcium to maintain strong bones and to carry out many important functions. Almost all calcium, 99% is stored in bones and teeth, where it supports their structure and hardness.
The body also needs calcium for muscles to move and for nerves to carry messages between the brain and every body part. Calcium is an electrolyte and is critical in the bodies electro pathway system. In addition, calcium is used to help blood vessels move blood throughout the body and to help release hormones and enzymes that affect almost every function in the human body.
The amount of calcium a person needs each day depends on their age. Average daily recommended amounts are listed below in milligrams (mg):
|Birth to 6 months||200 mg|
|Infants 7–12 months||260 mg|
|Children 1–3 years||700 mg|
|Children 4–8 years||1,000 mg|
|Children 9–13 years||1,300 mg|
|Teens 14–18 years||1,300 mg|
|Adults 19–50 years||1,000 mg|
|Adult men 51–70 years||1,000 mg|
|Adult women 51–70 years||1,200 mg|
|Adults 71 years and older||1,200 mg|
|Pregnant and breastfeeding teens||1,300 mg|
|Pregnant and breastfeeding adults||1,000 mg|
Calcium plays an important role in building stronger, denser bones early in life and keeping bones strong and healthy later in life. Other important uses are exocytosis, especially neurotransmitter release, and muscle contraction. This is why it is so important to athletes and weight lifters who do many more muscle contractions than the average person. Long term calcium deficiency can lead to rickets and poor blood clotting and in case of a menopausal woman, it can lead to osteoporosis, porous bones that easily fracture. A high calcium intake has been associated with a lower risk for kidney stones. Vitamin D is needed to absorb calcium. Dairy products, such as milk and cheese, are a well-known source of calcium. Some individuals are allergic to dairy products and even more people, in particular those of non Indo-European descent, are lactose-intolerant, leaving them unable to consume non-fermented dairy products in quantities larger than about half a liter per serving. Others, such as vegans, avoid dairy products for ethical and health reasons. 500 milligram calcium supplements made from calcium carbonate and are used to prevent and to treat calcium deficiencies. Most experts recommend that supplements be taken with food and that no more than 600mg should be taken at a time because the percent of calcium absorbed decreases as the amount of calcium in the supplement increases. It is recommended to spread doses throughout the day. Vitamin D is added to some calcium supplements. Proper vitamin D status is important because vitamin D is converted to a hormone in the body, which then induces the synthesis of intestinal proteins responsible for calcium absorption. Calcium carbonate is the most common calcium supplement. While most people digest calcium carbonate very well, some might develop gastrointestinal discomfort or gas. Taking magnesium with it can help to avoid constipation. Coral calcium is a salt of calcium derived from fossilized coral reefs. Coral calcium is composed of calcium carbonate and trace minerals. Calcium citrate can be taken without food and is the supplement of choice for individuals with achlorhydria. Calcium phosphate costs more than calcium carbonate, but less than calcium citrate. Microcrystalline Hydroxyapatite (MH) is one of several forms of calcium phosphate used as a dietary supplement. Hydroxyapatite is about 40% calcium. Calcium lactate has similar absorption as calcium carbonate, but is more expensive. Calcium lactate and calcium gluconate are less concentrated forms of calcium and are not practical oral supplements. Calcium chelates are synthetic calcium compounds in which calcium is bound to an organic molecule, such as malate, aspartate, or fumarate. These forms of calcium may be better absorbed on an empty stomach.