By: Dianna Yanchis, BSc (Nutrition)
Reviewed by Andrea Miller MHSc, RD
Calcium is an important nutrient that contributes to bone strength and density. Calcium is important for people of all ages. It is the most abundant major mineral in the body. Calcium has other important functions including assisting in muscle contraction and blood clotting, and maintaining cell membrane integrity. It can be found in many foods such as, dark leafy greens, cheese, milk, yogurt, bok-choy, broccoli, almonds, and legumes.
- How much calcium do we need?
|Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA)|
|Adults 19-50 years||1000 mg/day|
|Adults 51-70 years
1 cup milk = 300mg ¼ cup almonds = 93mg ¾ cup plain 1-2% yogurt = 332mg
Low calcium levels are rare, as we have the ability to self-regulate our circulating calcium level. Low calcium status results in an increase in absorption. Dietary absorption of calcium declines if need is low. The body has a hard time absorbing a large amount of calcium at once, therefore, spreading out the intake of calcium, over all meals and snacks, is recommended.
What assists the absorption of calcium?
- Vitamin D! Vitamin D is essential in helping the body absorb and use calcium. Along with vitamin D, vitamins C, E, K, and magnesium assist in absorbing calcium. Exercise also helps the body absorb calcium. Food sources of vitamin D include fatty fish, eggs, and fortified milk.
What impairs the absorption of calcium?
- Caffeine, stress, smoking, lack of exercise, alcohol, excess protein, and sodium can all impair our ability to absorb calcium.
More isn’t always better; the recommended daily recommended level of calcium should not be exceeded. If you have questions about your calcium intake and whether or not you need a calcium supplement, talk to a registered dietitian.