The need for calcium
The need for calcium
Calcium is among the most abundant of all the minerals in the body. It means that, unlike other minerals, the human body requires calcium in more significant amounts. Calcium is indeed the most crucial mineral in bones. 98% of all calcium in the human body is in bones.
At birth, the human body contains about 26 to 36 gms of calcium. This amount keeps rising till adulthood due to the growth of bones, teeth, and other organs. So by adulthood male body contains 1400 gms and the female body 1200 gms of calcium – Yes, that is quite a lot.
Calcium: a mineral with numerous functions
However, one should not underestimate the importance of calcium for other body functions. Calcium is vital for muscle contraction, nerve conduction, heart contraction, blood vessels, blood clotting, and even needed for the secretion of hormones. It means that the body maintains its strict levels in the blood and uses bones as stores. Bone serves as an excellent store as they are continually remodeled.
- Good for bone health
- It May help prevent certain cancers like colorectal cancer
- Cardiovascular health
- It helps prevent obesity and promotes weight loss
- Reduces risk of metabolic syndrome
Fulfilling calcium requirement becomes difficult with age
Despite a high calcium requirement by growing bodies, its deficiency is uncommon in young adults in developed nations (though they might still benefit from intermittent supplementations). It is because the modern diet has enough calcium content.
Infants can absorb almost 60% of dietary calcium. However, adults can only absorb about 25% of it. And this capacity to absorb declines further with age.
It explains why adults older than 50 years of age are more prone to its deficiency. Additionally, the presence of chronic disorders may make things worse.
Moreover, fulfilling the calcium requirement becomes quite challenging with age.
It is because absorption rates of calcium drop rapidly at higher intakes.
In practice, it means that one cannot treat calcium deficiency by consuming lots of calcium in a short time, as most of it would not get absorbed.
Thus, the only way to manage calcium deficiency is its prolonged supplementation at moderate doses.
For most healthy adults, 1000 mg of calcium a day would be enough. But older adults need bit higher amounts of calcium, and thus 1200 mg a day is good. However, those living with hormonal issues, metabolic disorders, osteoporosis, inflammatory bowel disease may require even higher calcium intake, thus necessitating supplementation.
With proper dietary planning, one can fulfill calcium requirements through diet.
Most of the white-colored foods are rich in calcium.
Thus, calcium is high in yogurt, cheese, milk, tofu.
Many juices are calcium-fortified. Cereals are moderately rich in calcium.
Role of supplements in calcium intake
It is always good to fulfill the need for any nutrient through diet.
However, sometimes supplementing the diet becomes essential, as fulfilling all the needs via diet may be challenging. In such cases, the most common practice is taking calcium supplements in a dose of up to 500 mg a day.
Dosage of 500 mg is preferred, as it is well-absorbed.