Calcium is a mineral found in many foods and is needed by the body to maintain strong bones and carry out many important functions, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), but vitamin D is necessary , since it is a necessary nutrient for health, because it helps the body absorb calcium.
The body also needs calcium for muscles to move and for nerves to carry messages from the brain to different parts of the body. In addition, calcium helps blood circulate through blood vessels throughout the body and helps release hormones needed for many body functions.
Therefore, the daily amount of calcium that is needed will depend on age and gender, but below are the recommended average daily amounts, expressed in milligrams (mg):
- Babies up to 6 months 200 mg
- Babies 7 to 12 months 260 mg
- Children 1 to 3 years 700 mg
- Children 4 to 8 years old 1,000 mg
- Children 9 to 13 years old 1,300 mg
- Adolescents 14 to 18 years old 1,300 mg
- Adults 19 to 50 years 1,000 mg
- Adult men ages 51 to 70 years 1,000 mg
- Adult women ages 51 to 70 years 1,200 mg
- Adults over 71 years 1,200 mg
- Pregnant and lactating adolescents 1,300 mg
- Pregnant and lactating adults 1,000 mg
What foods are sources of calcium?
- Milk, yogurt and cheese are sources of calcium.
- Kale, broccoli, and Chinese cabbage are good plant-based sources of calcium.
- Fish with edible soft bones, such as canned sardines and salmon, are good animal sources of calcium.
- Certain breakfast cereals, fruit juices, soy and rice beverages, and several types of tofu are fortified with calcium. However, to find out if these foods contain calcium, it’s important to check product labels.
However, The Provinces cited a study for the Center for Preventive Chronic Diseases (CDC), led by Dr. Jennifer Di Noia, which reveals that watercress is a superfood, since it contains the amount of calcium that the body needs.
Similarly, calcium is also present in many multivitamin mineral supplements. However, calcium absorption is higher when a person does not take more than 500 mg at a time. For example, someone who takes 1,000 mg of calcium a day in supplements should split the dose instead of taking it all at once.
What happens if you don’t get enough calcium?
In the short term, insufficient calcium intake does not produce noticeable symptoms because the body maintains calcium levels in the blood by taking what it needs from the bones, according to the institute. In the long term, calcium intake below recommended levels impacts health in a number of ways, including low bone mass (osteopenia) and increased risks of osteoporosis and bone fractures.
Can calcium be harmful?
According to some studies, those who consume large amounts of calcium may have an increased risk of prostate cancer and heart disease.
The institute also explained that excess calcium in the blood and urine can cause poor muscle tone, kidney failure, low phosphate levels, constipation, nausea, weight loss, extreme tiredness, frequent urination, abnormal heart rhythm and a high risk of death from heart disease.
However, high levels of calcium in the blood and urine are usually due to a health condition, such as high levels of parathyroid hormone or cancer, and not due to consuming too much calcium.