Calcium, the most abundant mineral in the body, is a major mineral. This mineral is essential for our ability to grow new bone and for maintaining bone strength. Calcium is also helpful in nerve transmission, intracellular signaling, hormonal secretion, maintaining heart rhythm and muscle function. Though calcium plays a role in many body functions less than one percent of it is needed to support these functions. Ninety-nine percent of the body’s calcium in found in our bones and teeth. The remaining one percent of calcium is found in our blood. Of that one percent, 50% are ionized, 10% are bound to anions, and 40% are bound to plasma proteins.
Though our bodies don’t use a lot of calcium we still need to consume it. The Institute of Medicine has set an Adequate Intake (AI) level for calcium. Below in Figure 1.1 are the AI amounts for both men and women. Figure 1.1
Category | Calcium: Adequate Intake (AI) |
0-6 months| 210 mg/day|
7-12 months| 270 mg/day|
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|
51 years and up| 1,200 mg/day|
Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding do not need to consume extra calcium. The tolerable uptake level (UL) for calcium is 2,500mg/day for adults and children over the age of 1 year.
Calcium can be found in a majority of the foods that we eat. Milk, yogurt, and cheeses are natural sources of calcium and are where the majority of people in the United States obtain their calcium. Calcium can be found in nondairy products as well. Broccoli, Chinese cabbage, kale, tofu, and fortified juices, cereals and soy products are great sources of calcium. Calcium can also be obtained from calcium supplements.
We want to make sure that our bodies are getting enough calcium so that we don’t become calcium deficient. When someone becomes calcium deficient it means that they have low levels of calcium. There are two types of calcium...