Calcium is a mineral necessary to build and maintain strong bones and teeth. It is the most common mineral in the body, nearly all of which is stored in the bones. This essential nutrient serves several other important functions in the body as well.
Calcium aids in healthy blood clotting and normal blood vessel and muscle contraction; which in-turn helps to lower blood pressure. Calcium supports the central nervous system; as well stimulates enzyme and hormone secretion in the body. Calcium regulates fluid in the body by controlling the flow of water in and out of the cells; as well facilitates in cell communication.
For calcium to work properly in the body, several other nutrients need to be present as well such as: magnesium, phosphorus, vitamin D and vitamin K.
Characteristics of a Calcium Deficiency
A calcium deficiency can increase a person’s risk of developing soft and brittle bones, making them more susceptible to fractures and muscle weakness; resulting in conditions like osteoporosis and rickets.
A person may experience muscle cramping or spasms, as well PMS symptoms can worsen. Some studies suggest that poor calcium levels can also result in higher blood pressure. Other signs and symptoms include, insomnia, numbness or tingling fingers, dizziness and lethargy, tooth decay and brittle fingernails, as well delayed growth in children.
Calcium deficiencies can occur in people with dairy intolerances and in those that avoid animal products like strict vegans, though there are other food sources for this important nutrient. Maintaining a meal plan to ensure all nutrient requirements are being met may help in these cases. Deficiencies can also occur in people with compromised digestive systems caused by severe illness or surgery.
Calcium Food Sources
The most obvious calcium food sources come from dairy products like milk and yogurt, but calcium can also be found in fish, dark leafy greens, cruciferous vegetables, beans, seeds and nuts.
Nutrient-Rich Whole Food Sources for Calcium
This chart lists the best food sources for vitamin calcium along with that food source’s single serving size and the amount of calcium in that single serving.
Calcium Daily Intake Recommendations for Child and Adult
These figures are referenced from the Dietary Reference Intake (DRI) 2005 system; used in Canada and the United States. The DRI system provides the minimum daily intake requirements of vitamins, minerals and nutrients for child and adult; males and females.
To find out what your daily intake requirements are for all of the essential nutrients, see the article Essential Nutrients and Beneficial Foods, posted January 16, 2017.
Written By: J. Marshall
- Canadian Diabetes Association: www.diabetes.ca
- The World’s Healthiest Foods: www.whfoods.com
- University of Maryland Medical Center: umm.edu
- Global Healing Center: www.globalhealingcenter.com
- Health Canada: Dietary Reference Intake Tables: http://hc-sc.gc.ca/fn-an/nutrition/reference/table/index-eng.php