Calcium is the most abundant mineral found in the body. It is necessary for maintaining healthy communication between the brain and other body parts. Humans require calcium to build and maintain healthy and strong bones- about 99% of the body’s calcium is found in the teeth and bones.
The body sources its calcium through ingestion. Calcium naturally occurs in many foods, or most food manufacturers add it to certain products, and some people choose to use calcium supplements. Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium and is required alongside calcium. Vitamin D can be acquired from fortified dairy products, exposure to sunlight, and fish oil.
If you have been looking to know more about calcium and its benefits, then you’ve come to the right place. In this article, we will be discussing calcium’s importance for optimal health.
Calcium and Health
Calcium plays a vital role in many of your body’s basic functions. Your body requires calcium for the following:
As you’ve read, calcium is necessary for the efficient growth, maintenance, and development of bone. As children develop, calcium contributes to the development of their bones. Even after a person stops growing, calcium continues to maintain bone density for the prevention of bone loss. Females who have reached menopause have a higher risk of losing bone density, which may result in the development of osteoporosis; a doctor may recommend calcium supplements for this.
Calcium plays a major role in blood clotting. The process of blood clotting is a complex series of essential steps. These require a range of chemicals including calcium. The role of calcium in the functioning of the muscles includes maintaining the action of the heart muscles. It helps in relaxing muscles, especially those that surround blood vessels- a variety of studies have linked daily intake of 1000-1500mg of calcium with healthy blood pressure.
Calcium is also helpful in the regulation of muscle contraction. Whenever a nerve is stimulated by a muscle, the body releases calcium. This calcium then assists the proteins in the muscles to carry out the contraction. As soon as calcium is pumped out of the muscle, the muscle relaxes.
Recommended Daily Intake (RDI) For Adults
The NIH (National Institutes of Health) says that adults should get up to 1000mg of calcium every day. For women during pregnancy and those over 50, NIH recommends 1,000-1,200 mg daily.
It is possible to recommend additional calcium to people who-
Ø Have started menopause,
Ø Have certain bowel or digestive diseases that decrease your ability to absorb calcium.
Food Sources of Calcium
Most people don’t know this, but yogurt is an excellent source of calcium. Many types of yogurt are very rich in live probiotics which have a wide range of health benefits.
A cup (245 grams) of yogurt contains about 30% of the required daily intake for calcium, as well as potassium, and phosphorus.
Another amazing source of calcium is cheese. Parmesan cheese has the most calcium with up to 331mg or about 33% of the required daily intake. Softer cheeses tend to have lesser amounts of calcium- one ounce delivers 52 mg or 5% of the required daily intake.
Beans and Lentils
Beans and lentils are rich in calcium, and they are also rich in protein, micronutrients, and fiber. White beans are also an incredible source of calcium, with a cup (179 grams) of cooked white beans providing up to 13% of the RDI.
Leafy greens that have an amazing amount of calcium include kale, spinach, and collard greens. For example, a cup (190 grams) of cooked collard greens provides you with up to 226 mg, which is already a quarter of the amount you need in a day.
A lack of calcium in your body could result in the development of a variety of health issues. For adults, low levels of calcium can significantly increase your risk of developing osteoporosis and frail bones that fracture easily. Osteoporosis is more common in older women than in their male counterparts. Other health issues associated with low calcium deficiency are muscle cramps, muscle spasms, and weak and brittle nails.
Your body requires calcium to properly function. Aside from building strong bones and healthy teeth, calcium may also manage blood pressure. Ensure to always eat fresh foods that are rich in calcium so you’ll never run out of them.