Calcium is the most abundant mineral in the human body, contained in the bones, teeth, body tissues, nerve cells, blood, and other fluids.
This mineral is necessary for building strong teeth and bones, sending and receiving nerve signals, clotting blood, releasing hormones, contracting and relaxing the muscles, and maintaining a normal heartbeat.
A recent research has also shown that an adequate intake of calcium can prevent osteoporosis, especially when combined with proper levels of vitamin D and regular exercising.
Also, this mineral is shown to be effective in reducing high blood pressure and lowering the risk of colorectal cancer.
Recommended Daily Intake of Calcium
The recommended amount of calcium per day for both men and women is:
- 500 mg of calcium for people aged 1-3;
- 800 mg of calcium for people aged 4-8;
- 1,300 mg of calcium for people aged 9-18;
- 1,000 mg of calcium for people aged 19-50;
- 1,200 mg of calcium for people aged above 50.
Keep in mind that the daily intake of calcium should not exceed 2,500 mg. excessive calcium levels can interfere with your absorption of other minerals, which will weaken your kidney function.
Best Food Sources of Calcium
The best food sources of calcium include:
- Dairy products, such as yogurt, buttermilk, and cheese;
- Sardines and salmon canned with their soft bones;
- Leafy green vegetables, like cabbage, broccoli, kale, collards, turnip greens, mustard greens, and bok choy;
- Tofu processed with calcium salt;
- Fortified beverages, such as soy milk and orange juice;
- Brazil nuts, almonds, tahini, sunflower seeds, and dried beans.
Forms of Calcium Supplements
There are two main forms of calcium supplements:
- Chelated calcium – Even though this form is more expensive, you can absorb the supplements better, and you may take them on an empty stomach.
- Calcium carbonate – For best absorption, this form should be taken with food. Also, you should consume refined calcium carbonate because unrefined calcium may contain lead.
Tips for Best Calcium Absorption
- In order to absorb and use calcium, you need vitamin D. Get 1,000 IU of vitamin D on a daily basis, either through supplements or sun exposure.
- You should take calcium in separate doses, each of them containing no more than 500 mg.
- Keep in mind that calcium and iron compete for absorption. Therefore, you should take these two minerals at different times of the day.
- Avoid taking calcium supplements while consuming foods rich in a calcium-blocking phytic acid, such as oat bran or wheat bran, or foods rich in an oxalic acid, such as spinach and collard greens.