What is Calcium and What Does it Do?

The calcium is a life-needed mineral. Ca helps our blood to clot, our muscles to contract, and our heart to beat, in addition to building bones and keeping them healthy. Around 99 % of our body’s Ca is in our bones and teeth.

We lose calcium every day by our skin, nails, hair, sweat, urine and feces. Our bodies can not produce a Ca of their own. That is why having enough Ca from the food we eat is critical. It’s stripped from our bodies because we don’t get the Ca that our body needs. This is fine every now and then, but if it happens too often, the bones become weaker and easier to break.

Too many Americans are short of getting the amount of Ca they need every day, which can result in loss of bone, poor bone density, and even broken bones.

How Much Calcium Do You Need?


The amount of Ca that you need each day depends on your age and your sex.
WOMEN
Age 50 & younger 1,000 mg* daily
Age 51 & older 1,200 mg* daily

MEN
Age 70 & younger 1,000 mg* daily
Age 71 & older 1,200 mg* daily

*This includes the total amount of Ca from foods and supplements that you get.

How Much Calcium Do You Eat?

Use Ca Calculator of the International Foundation for Osteoporosis to find out.

Sources of Calcium


Calcium-Rich Food Sources
Nutrition is the strongest Ca source. The dairy products are high in Ca , such as milk, yogurt and cheese. Many green vegetables and other foods have smaller amounts of calcium in them. Ca has been added to certain juices, breakfast foods, soy milk, cereals, snacks, breads and bottled water. Be sure to shake the container as well as Ca can settle down if you drink soymilk or any other liquid that is fortified with Ca .

A easy way to add calcium to many foods is to add a single tablespoon of nonfat powdered milk containing around 50 mg of Ca in it. Adding a couple of table spoons to almost any recipe is simple.

Food Labels Reading – How much calcium do I get?


To calculate how much calcium there is in a given food, check the Daily Value (DV) panel of nutrition facts. On food labels Ca is classified as a percentage of DV. The amount is based on 1,000 mg per day of Ca . For example:

30% DV of calcium equals 300 mg of calcium.
20% DV of calcium equals 200 mg of calcium.
15% DV of calcium equals 150 mg of calcium.

Calcium Supplements


The amount of Ca a supplement requires depends on how much you get from the meal. Try to get the recommended daily amount from food and only substitute when needed to make up for any shortfalls. Generally speaking, you should not be taking supplements you don’t need. Do not take a supplement if you are getting enough calcium from food. Getting more Ca than you need has no added benefit. Doing so can also bear those risks.

Ca supplements are available in a wide variety of formulations (including chewable and liquid) and in varying amounts, without a prescription. The best addition is one that meets the ease, cost and availability needs. When choosing a substitute, keep in mind the following:

Carefully read the product label to determine the amount of elemental calcium, which is the actual amount of Ca in the supplement, and how many doses or tablets you need to take. Pay close attention, when reading the mark, to the “number per serving” and “serving size.”

If ingested in amounts of 500-600 mg or less, Ca is absorbed best. This is the case with foods as well as supplements. Try getting your foods and/or supplements high in Ca in small amounts throughout the day, preferably with a meal. While it is not recommended, it is better to take your calcium at once than not to take it anyway.

Take (most) food supplements made with Ca . Eating food produces stomach acid that helps absorb most calcium supplements in your body. Ca citrate is one exception to the rule, which can absorb well when taken with or without food.

Start with a smaller amount when you start a new Ca supplement, to better tolerate it. Try starting with 200-300 mg daily for a week when swapping supplements, and drink extra 6-8 ounces of water with it. Then, add more Ca gradually every week.

Calcium supplements may have side effects, such as gas or constipation. If you are not solving the problem by through the fluids in your diet, try another form or Ca brand. Finding the right supplement for you may require trial and error but luckily there are many choices.
Review potential associations between prescription or over – the-counter medications and Ca supplements with your healthcare provider or pharmacist.

5 thoughts on “What is Calcium and What Does it Do?”

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