Calcium is required by all of us for the build-up and maintenance of strong bones.
Calcium also helps to maintain heart rhythm, muscle function, bone strength, blood
clotting and more. Most of the amount of calcium is stored in bones and teeth, where
it supports their structure and hardness and some amount is present as serum
Requirements of calcium in the body
The body requires calcium for a variety of functions. It is required for vascular
contraction and vasodilation (dilation of blood vessels), muscle function (to move
muscles), nerve transmission- for carrying messages by nerves between the brain
and every body part. To send signals in the body and hormonal secretion. To help in
movements of blood through blood vessels in the entire body and to help release
enzymes in the body.
For these purpose serum, calcium is used which is less than 1% of total body calcium
and is very tightly regulated and does not change with changes in foods we eat; and
this serum calcium remains stored in the tissue of bone and used as a source of
calcium for later use, to maintain constant calcium levels in the blood, muscle, and
intercellular fluids (plasma).
The major part i.e. 99% of the body’s calcium is stored in the bones and teeth to
support their structure. Along with other functions like it works as an ingredient in
many antacids. High levels of magnesium, phosphorus, and potassium in the blood
are controlled by calcium. Studies suggest that it helps in preventing high blood
pressure. Reduces PMS symptoms as well as, a key agent in preventing some
cancers, aids weight loss.
How much Calcium should be in your diet?
Getting a good amount of calcium from the diet, with or without supplements, maybe
enough to keep the bones healthy. For those with deficiency, doctors may
recommend higher doses.
The recommended daily allowance differs for different age groups and are as
Infants- 500 mg/day
Children- 600 mg/day
Adolescents- 800 mg/day
Adults- 600 mg/day
Pregnant women- 1200 mg/day
Lactating women- 1200 mg/day
Elderly- 1200 mg/day
Sources of Calcium:
Calcium-Rich Food Sources:
Food is the richest source of calcium, it is a simple way to add calcium in your body.
It can be obtained from dairy products as well as non- dairy products.
Dairy products include,
● Soy milk
● Powdered milk ( 1 tbsp contains about 50 mg of calcium)
Non- Dairy products include,
● Some green vegetables (in small amounts)
● Some fruit and vegetable juices
● Bottled water (have added calcium)
● Nuts & Oilseeds
The amount of calcium which should be taken from a supplement depends on how
much you get from food. But try to get the daily recommended amount majorly from
food and only less amount from supplements. In general, one shouldn’t take
supplements until there is a need to do so.
Vitamin D & CalciumVitamin D plays a key role in protecting bones, as it helps in the absorption of calcium
in the body and supporting muscles. If there is not enough vitamin D in our body,
then the calcium absorption would get reduced and there are more chances that a
person suffers from calcium deficiency.
We can get vitamin -D from these sources
Calcium Deficiency & Groups at Risk of Calcium Inadequacy
Nowadays, calcium deficiency can be seen in every other individual. Inadequate
intake of calcium for a prolonged time can result in calcium deficiency.
Over a period of time, inadequate calcium levels cause osteopenia in adults and
rickets in children, which if not treated can lead to osteoporosis and the risk of bone
fractures also increase, especially in elders.
The people at the highest risk of calcium deficiency are postmenopausal women. Since dairy
products are one of the most common sources of calcium, people who are lactose intolerant
or vegan is also at increased risk of calcium deficiency.