Daily aging due to bodily processes cause the loss of vital vitamins and minerals our bodies need to sustain a healthy and long life. If you are not getting necessary nourishment through healthy eating and drinking, you may want to consider supplements and vitamins to help. Calcium is the most abundant and important mineral in the human body. Knowing its function, understanding how our bodies regulate it and what happens when we lose too much of this life sustaining substance is imperative.
There are over 179 identified different uses for calcium in the human body. The average adult has 1Kg of calcium in their body, 99 percent of which is concentrated in the teeth and bones. That is equivalent to one Liter of water, 400 U.S. pennies, a pineapple, or a baseball bat!
Calcium functions include:
- Building strong bones and teeth
- Clotting blood
- Sending and receiving nerve signals
- Releasing hormones
- Contracting muscles
- Maintaining a normal heartbeat
Calcium is regulated mainly through direct exchange with the bone. High and low levels of calcium are controlled by hormones. High levels of calcium in the blood trigger the thyroid to produce calcitonin, which binds to the calcium and is processed out of the body by the kidneys.
Hypocalcemia and hypercalcemia are serious medical conditions where the body has either too much or little calcium in the blood. Both can be hereditary or the result of a poor diet. Generally, they can be treated and regulated via medication.
High calcium levels for an extended period of time may result in kidney stones, a solid build up of crystals over time. They are painful and usually require a visit to the doctor.
Low levels of calcium over time causes osteoporosis, a thinning of bone tissue and loss of bone density, or other possible disorders.
Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA)
Children and Adolescents
- 1 – 3 years: 700 mg/day
- 4 – 8 years: 1,000 mg/day
- 9 – 18 years: 1,300 mg/day
- 19 – 50 years: 1,000 mg/day
- 50 – 70 years:
- Men – 1,000 mg/day
- Women – 1,200 mg/day
- Over 71 years – 1,200 mg/day
The amount of calcium intake required for our bodies can vary based on age, gender. Other factors like pregnancy, lactation, or illness are also important. Be sure to consult a doctor before starting any vitamin supplements and discuss your current medications.
The best source for calcium is dairy products. Milk, yogurt, and cheeses contain an easily absorbed form of calcium.
For people who are lactose intolerant, it is just as easy to extract calcium from other sources. Green vegetables like broccoli, greens, and cabbage as well as salmon, nuts, and sunflower seed are great ways to get the calcium your body needs.
Calcium is added to many products, such as orange juice, tofu, cereals, and breads. Good sources for those on a vegan diet.