The importance of calcium for the overall health of humans is both well known and underestimated. In this article, we provide information about this mineral that is essential for our survival. We will explain what calcium is, what it does, and how you can assimilate it.
Just like vitamin D, calcium is another essential element to keep our bones and teeth in optimal shape. This mineral also enables our blood to clot, helps muscle contraction and the release of hormones, and it works in favour of our cardiovascular and nervous systems. It is useful to pretty much every function of the human body!
The recommended amount of calcium
The recommended amount of calcium varies with age.
From birth to six months, new-borns should intake around 200 milligrams of calcium per day. Infants from seven months to one year of age need 260 milligrams of calcium a day. Children from 1 to 3 years should have 700 milligrams, while from 4 to 8 years of age, the recommended daily dose rises to 1000 milligrams.
Children from 9 to 13 and teenagers from 14 to 18 will need 1300 milligrams of calcium/day, while adults from 19 to 50 have a recommended dose of 1000 milligrams of calcium per day.
Adult males from 51 to 70 years will maintain their previous intake (1000 milligrams/day), whereas women from 51 to 70 years will need to increase the amount to 1200 milligrams per day.
Finally, elderly people (71 and older) will need 1200 milligrams of calcium/day.
There are also some particular cases, such as pregnancy and breastfeeding, that will need a specific amount of calcium: 1300 milligrams/day for pregnant and breastfeeding teenagers and 1000 milligrams/day for pregnant and breastfeeding adults.
How can you assimilate calcium?
Calcium can be found in many foods, most of which are consumed daily from people of all ages. You can easily assimilate calcium by eating a variety of different foods (remember that variety is always important in any diet!) including, for example:
- Green vegetables, such as broccoli, kale, spinach, cabbage, soybeans, bok choy
- Dairy products, such as milk, cheese, yogurt
- Fortified foods, such as breakfast cereals, fruit juices, almond milk, oatmeal
- Seafood, such as sardines, salmon, shrimp
- Vegan foods and vegetables, such as soymilk, tofu, tempeh
You can also assimilate calcium through supplements that are prescribed namely in the presence of hypocalcaemia, or in other words calcium deficiency.
Dietary calcium supplements may also include Vitamin D. This happens because Vitamin D, which is mainly absorbed by the human body through daily sun exposure, increases the absorption of calcium and enhances its benefits.
Calcium and overall health
Finally, let’s take a look at the main effects of calcium on our health.
The first connection between calcium and our body resides in its role in keeping our bones healthy and therefore in preventing osteoporosis. Bones, just like teeth, require plenty of calcium (and vitamin D) throughout our lives, especially in later years, when we slowly begin to lose calcium naturally and we must pay special attention to our daily intake of this mineral. Its effect on bones can also be increased by regular physical activity, from sport to walking.
Calcium also decreases the risk of developing various forms of cancer, although many studies still need to be performed to highlight the details of this critical connection.
What is certain is that calcium influences our cardiovascular system and prevents the risk of stroke and heart disease, but also hypertension – principally when the mineral is absorbed from vegetables.
Are you providing your body with the proper amount of calcium each day?