calciumWhat is Calcium

Calcium (Ca) is the most plentiful mineral in the body and is necessary for a number of important functions. The body needs sufficient dietary calcium (along with vitamin D and numerous other nutrients such as vitamin K) to develop and keep healthy bones and teeth. Calcium likewise plays a crucial function in lots of systems consisting of intracellular signal to make it possible for the combination and regulation of metabolic processes, the transmission of info via the nerves, the control of muscle contraction (consisting of the heart) and blood clotting. In addition, it has actually been recommended that adequate calcium intake (for instance from lowered fat dairy items) may assist lower high blood pressure and might assist safeguard versus colon cancer, although more proof is needed to completely validate these functions.

The skeletal system contains about 99 % of the body’s calcium with approximately 1kg present in adult bones. The major constituents of bone are calcium and phosphate, forming hydroxyapatite, which is associated within a meshwork of collagen fibres to form a stiff structure. The body’s requirement for calcium varies with the rate of bone development, so in addition to securing essential organs, the skeletal system functions as a ‘bank’ of minerals from which calcium and phosphorus may be continuously taken out or deposited to support physiological requirement.

Calcium levels in the blood are carefully managed and blood plasma levels are maintained within narrow limitations. Calcium absorption is well controlled to match the requirements of the body balance can be kept at a variety of different levels of calcium intake. Even at low levels of consumption, there is proof from the Gambia, for instance, that balance can be accomplished. Calcium condition is kept by balancing  absorption from the digestive tract, excretion through the kidneys and mobilisation and deposition in the bone. These websites are regulated by feedback mechanisms managed by numerous hormones consisting of parathyroid hormone and the turned on kind of vitamin D. Plasma levels of calcium just become abnormal if there is a breakdown of this homeostatic mechanism, and not typically as a result of distinctions in nutritional calcium intake. The body invests this effort since small variations in plasma calcium concentrations may have severe repercussions to the performance of important organs and to health in general. Low blood calcium is called hypocalcaemia and high blood calcium is called hypercalcaemia.



For some nutrients, nutritional deficiency is recognized by the presence of a low blood level of the nutrient however for nutrients such as calcium, for the factors explained previously, low blood levels rarely take place. Since of the need to preserve blood levels, the impact of a bad supply of calcium is normally reflected in bone density since bone acts as a storage tank in times of need. For instance, inadequate calcium in bones can arise from an insufficient supply of vitamin D which is essential for absorption of calcium. In kids, vitamin D deficiency results in rickets and, in adults, osteomalacia, where bones become weak owing to lack of calcium.

In regards to dietary supply, a significant proportion of girls have average calcium intakes listed below the Lower Reference Nutrient Intakes (8 % of females aged 19-24 years and 6 % of females aged 25-34 years) showing these intakes are likely to be inadequate. An appropriate calcium consumption is crucial for health, specifically in times of growth (in childhood, teenage years, pregnancy) to establish peak bone mass as well as during lactation (breastfeeding). Supplements are often suggested for those at risk of osteoporosis. See nutrient requirements for details on calcium requirements throughout the life course.


Adverse results

Getting calcium as part of a diverse diet plan is unlikely to cause any adverse effects however taking high dosage supplements sometimes causes tummy pain and diarrhoea.


Sources of Calcium

High calcium foods with high calcium levels

Milk, cheese and other dairy items provide about half of the calcium. Bread is also a crucial source in the UK because many bread flour (though not wholemeal) is strengthened with calcium by law. Calcium is also offered by some green leafy veggies such as broccoli and cabbage (but not spinach), fortified soya products and fish eaten with the bones such as sardines, tinned salmon and whitebait.


Calcium absorption

Calcium absorption is affected by a number of promoting and inhibitory aspects. Promoting aspects include vitamin D, lactose, dietary protein, non-digestible oligosaccharides and an acidic environment in the little intestinal tract. Calcium is most easily absorbed from milk and dairy items. Inhibitory factors include phytates (e.g. in wholegrain cereals, pulses), oxalate (e.g. from spinach, rhubarb, beetroot), use of antacids, unabsorbed dietary fats, extreme consumption of nutritional fibre and large consumptions of phosphoric acid (e.g. from carbonated drinks). Calcium is typically less available from plant foods where the calcium might be bound by phytates and oxalates in foods, makings the calcium unavailable for absorption from the gut into the blood. However, absorption from some plant foods is excellent e.g. broccoli, although the amount present is typically lower than in milk.