CALCIUM

A table of products which are the best sources of calcium:
ProductServing sizeCaloriesAmount (mg)DV (%)Nutrient densityQuality
Spinach1 small plate41244.824.510.6Excellent
Collard greens1 small plate49226.122.68.2Excellent
Basil2 tsp863.46.315.2Very good
Cinnamon 2 tsp1255.75.68.5Very good
Yoghurt1 cup155447.444.75.2Very good
Swiss chard1 small plate35101.510.25.2Very good
Skimmed cheese30g72183.118.34.6Very good
Kale1 small plate3693.69.44.6Very good
Skimmed milk1 cup121296.729.74.4Very good
Goat's milk1 cup168325.732.63.5Very good
Rosemary2 tsp728.22.87Good
Romaine lettuce2 small plates1640.344.6Good
Celery1 small plate19484.84.5Good
Sesame seeds1/4 cup20635135.13.1Good
Broccoli1 small plate4474.77.53.1Good
Cabbage1 small plate3346.54.72.5Good
Green beans1 small plate4457.55.82.4Good
Zucchini 1 small plate3648.64.92.4Good
Garlic30g4251.35.12.2Good
Tofu120g86100102.1Good
Mustard2 tsp738.93.92Good
Sprouts1 small plate6156.25.61.7Good
Orange16252.45.21.5Good
Asparagus1 small plate43363.61.5Good
Champignons150g3125.52.61.5Good

FUNCTIONS

Beneficial effects of the products rich in calcium:
  • To maintain healthy and strong bones;
  • To help the proper functioning of nerves and muscles;
  • To help in case of blood clots.
Which indications require products rich in calcium?
  • Osteopenia (reduced bone mass);
  • Frequent bone breaking;
  • Pain and muscle spasms;
  • Tingling or numbness of hands and feet;
  • Deformities of the bones and slow growth and development of children.

IMPACT OF COOKING, STORAGE AND PROCESSING

Calcium content of foods is remarkably stable. Calcium does not degrade or leech out of foods as they are stored, and there does not appear to be any major change in bioavailability of calcium over the shelf life of the best food sources.

PUBLIC HEALTH RECOMMENDATIONS

In 2010, the National Academy of Sciences released Dietary Reference Intake (DRI) updates that included Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDA) for age and gender specific calcium intake goals. These RDAs are as follows:

  • 0 – 6 months: 200 mg
  • 6 – 12 months: 260 mg
  • 1 – 3 years: 700 mg
  • 4 – 8 years: 1,000 mg
  • 9 – 13 years: 1,300 mg
  • 14 – 18 years: 1,300 mg
  • 19 – 30 years: 1,000 mg
  • 31 – 50 years: 1,000 mg
  • 51 – 70 years, female: 1,200 mg
  • 51 – 70 years, male: 1,000 mg
  • 70+ years: 1,200 mg
  • Pregnant or lactating women, 14 – 18 years: 1,300 mg
  • Pregnant or lactating women, 19 – 50 years: 1,300 mg

The dietary reference intake for the calcium is 1000 milligrams and was established by the FDA. This is the recommended value and is the basis for the DV (daily values) calculations. NAS has established the maximum recommended amount (called Tolerable Upper Intake Levels) for calcium – 2500 milligrams.

WHY DO WE NEED PRODUCTS RICH IN CALCIUM?

Minerals such as the calcium cannot be produced in the body and therefore should be consumed through products. Calcium is a mineral which constitutes 1.5% of the total body weight. Although it has many important functions in the body, the calcium has the most significant role in promoting healthy bones and preventing osteoporosis. Namely, a diet low in calcium is one of the factors associated with the occurrence of osteoporosis.

Other nutrients, such as magnesium, phosphorus and trace elements (microelements) – zinc, copper and boron, also have an important role in increasing the bone density. These nutrients can be found in many products rich in calcium. Consequently the intake of these products will not only satisfy the need for calcium, but also for substances which in synergy with it promote health. Although the dairy products have always been considered to be an important source of calcium, there are different types of green leafy vegetables which contain it in large quantities. Sufficient intake of calcium is especially important nowadays because the diet of many people is deprived of this mineral. For example, sodium, caffeine, phosphates from soft drinks and over-consuming of proteins can provoke excessive excretion of the calcium from the body.

BENEFICIAL EFFECTS OF THE CALCIUM

Strengthens the bones structure

Calcium is best known for its role in maintaining the strength and density of bones. During the process which is called the mineralization of the bones, the calcium binds the phosphorus and they create the calcium phosphate, the main component of the mineral complex hydroxyapatite, which gives the structure and the strength of the bones. If there is insufficient intake of calcium, then the body will start using it from the bones, and one day it will result in osteoporosis.

Other health beneficial effects of the calcium

The calcium is also important for many other physiological activities, like blood clots, nerve functionality, muscle contractions, regulation of the enzymatic activities and the function of the cell membranes.

THE REASONS FOR CALCIUM INSUFFICIENCY AND THE SYMPTOMS

Besides low intake, there are other factors which contribute to calcium insufficiency. The lack of gastric juice prevents the calcium absorption and can result in its low status. Hypochlorhydria, a condition where the production of hydrochloric acid in gastric secretions of the stomach and other digestive organs is absent or low, is common for many older people.

Also, regular intake of vitamin D is necessary for the absorption of the calcium. Lack of vitamin D or the impossibility of its conversion from inactive to active form, can result in low calcium status. Lack of calcium in children can result in an irregular mineralization of the bones, which leads to rickets. The lack of calcium in adults can result in osteomalacia or ‘softening of the bones’.

Low levels of calcium (free or ionized calcium) can cause tetany, a condition marked by intermittent muscular spasms.

CAN WE CONSUME TOO MUCH CALCIUM?

Excessive calcium consumption (over 3000 mg per day) can result in a condition called hypercalcaemia. If the phosphorus level is low, and the calcium level is high, then the hypercalcaemia can result in calcification of the soft tissues. This led the FDA to bring the Tolerable Upper Intake Levels on 2500mg.

 

CALCIUM

CALCIUM