What is Calcium?
Calcium is a mineral found naturally in many foods. It can also be taken as a dietary supplement. There is more calcium in the human body than any other mineral. The average male body is composed of around 1.5 kg of calcium, while the average female body has around 1 kg of calcium. While 99% of this calcium is present in the bones and teeth, the remaining 1% contributes to cell function, muscle, and brain activity.
Benefits and Uses of Calcium
Calcium’s number one role is to strengthen the structural components of the bones. Hormones control the passage of calcium from the skeletal system throughout the vascular system and to other parts of the body. Calcium also plays an important role in the cells where it helps change the biological activity of proteins and is involved with muscle contraction.
Besides being a nutrient, calcium binds with bile, dietary fat, and certain acids so that can be removed along with other waste matter rather than being absorbed by the body. This lowers the amount of fats that are absorbed and is a generally unnoticed benefit of a diet containing adequate calcium.
Vitamin D is needed for your body to absorb calcium. Calcium deficiency can cause rickets in growing children and osteomalacia. Post-menopausal women are especially at risk for osteoporosis because hormonal changes cause the body to break down calcium stores in bone.
Calcium is present in a whole host of foods. These include all dairy products, most soy products, cruciferous vegetables, seeds, nuts and dried fruit. Another good source of calcium is a natural supplement called calcium citrate. Poorer sources include oyster shell because they may contain heavy metals such as mercury. Avoid consuming calcium made from the bone meal of animals due to the risk of transmissible diseases. Avoid regular use of antacids as calcium supplements.
So how much calcium do we need? There is currently a variance between the daily recommendations and optimal health recommendations as shown below.
- Adults under 65: Recommended daily intake 800 mg, optimal daily intake 1000 mg
- Adults over 65: Recommended daily intake N/A, optimal daily intake 1500 mg
- Pregnant and nursing women: Recommended daily intake 1200 mg, optimal daily intake 1200 -1500 mg
- Young adults (11-14): Recommended daily intake 1200 mg, optimal daily intake 1200 mg
- Children under 11: Recommended daily intake 800 mg, optimal daily intake 800-1000 mg
Calcium Side Effects/Overdose
Common side effects of calcium-vitamin D supplement include nausea, vomiting, irregular heartbeat, constipation, dry mouth, and a metallic taste in the mouth. If you think you may have taken too much calcium, contact your doctor.
Too much calcium can be bad for you. Although it is safe for adults to consume up to 2,000 mg of calcium every day without adverse side effects, going over that may lower the absorption of some other nutrients, including iron, and certain medications, such as tetracycline.
Some substances can prevent the absorption of calcium. One of these is phytic acid, which is found in whole grain cereals and some raw vegetables. Saturated fats also inhibit the absorption of calcium as calcium binds to saturated fats and prevent them from being absorbed. Another is uronic acid, a constituent in dietary fiber.
DrFormulas™ Calcium Complex with Magnesium & Vitamin D provides 1000 mg of calcium per daily serving. It also contains vitamin D3 to help with the absorption of calcium. The supplement contains calcium from ten different sources including citrate, hydroxyapatite, gluconate, dicalcium phosphate, citrate, and glycinate. Along with folate, iron, DHA and folic acid, DrFormulas™ Prenatal Vitamins contains 100 mg of calcium per serving and is formulated for pregnant and breastfeeding women.
Calcium plays an important role in the support of healthy bones, teeth and cells. Taking a calcium supplement, particularly in later life, can reduce the risk of fragile or brittle bones and also support joint health. Take a calcium supplement every day to protect your bones and teeth.