Calcium, what does it do and how do we get it? We all know that essentially calcium helps to build strong bones but is there more to it? Is milk really the best way of obtaining calcium? Are supplements adequate forms of calcium or is it better to stick to foods? In this article, we are going to examine the mineral known as calcium and find out everything one needs to know about the bone-building mineral.
What is Calcium?
Calcium is a mineral that is traditionally believed to primarily help build strong bones. While this is true, it also aids the body in serving other functions such as blood circulation, vasodilation, and muscle functioning. Most of the calcium is found in bones and teeth while the rest helps perform and maintain these bodily functions.
Are there different forms of Calcium?
When it comes to supplementation, there are indeed different variations of calcium. The differences in calcium come in changes at the molecular level of the mineral itself. The element paired with calcium itself forms a mineral salt and different ones make calcium more absorbable than others. Calcium Carbonate and Citrate are the two most common forms of the mineral and are widely available in the form of supplements. Elemental Calcium is what is actually absorbed by the body and depending on the mineral salt, makes more elemental calcium available.
Which has a better Bioavailability?
Calcium Carbonate tends to yield higher amounts of elemental calcium as opposed to Calcium Citrate. However, Calcium Citrate tends to absorb better than carbonate due to the citric acid paired with it. In the end, absorption of calcium tends to slow down once adequate amounts have been obtained so it is up to individuals to choose which version is right for them.
When should I take calcium?
It is best to take calcium (if taken in the form of supplements) in the morning alongside any other supplements. Taking vitamins and minerals in the morning allows one’s body to metabolize and properly absorb everything as opposed to later in the evening or closer to night-time when the body slows down and prepares for recovery. It is also recommended to supplement Calcium if one is lactose intolerant as high amounts of calcium usually come from dairy products. Being lactose intolerant prevents individuals from absorbing calcium and thus supplementation is recommended.
How much Calcium should I take?
Calcium, like other vitamins and minerals, can be adequately obtained through foods in one’s everyday diet. Calcium specifically can be obtained largely from dairy products. Vegetables, especially dark leafy greens, also contain high amounts of calcium alongside fish. Osteoporosis can potentially result from a lack of calcium as the body resorts to taking it from bones- resulting in brittle bones and a higher risk of fractures, breaks, etc. Calcium deficiency will not immediately result in Osteoporosis and there really are no observable symptoms but should be considered nonetheless. Consultation with a medical professional should first be taken before consuming any supplements to avoid risks, side effects, or interactions with other medications. Below are some recommended amounts of calcium, based on age.
|Age||Recommended Amount in milligrams (mg)|
|Birth- 6 months||200 mg|
|7-12 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|
|19-50 years||1,000 mg|
Information sourced from https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Calcium-Consumer/