Calcium Is Important.
Ninety eight percent of all calcium in your body is stored in your bones. Calcium is important for many reasons, most importantly:
- Gives strength to your body’s skeletal system and teeth.
- Protects from osteoporosis, the fourth leading cause of death
- Lowers blood pressure and regulates heart functions.
- Strengthens teeth and helps prevent gum disease.
- Stimulates fat-burning enzymes that regulate weight.
- Raises ‘good’ cholesterol levels and lowers ‘bad’ cholesterol
- May slow or stop the formation of cataracts.
- Helps stabilize our mood by stimulating certain hormones.
- Prevents painful muscle cramps.
Calcium deficiency is a major problem in the US, where over 90 percent of all women receive less than half of their recommended dietary allowance of calcium. Over 98 percent of the calcium your body is stored in bones, where it is used to give bones their strength. If your diet’s calcium level is low, your body must draw on your bones to replace the lost calcium in your bloodstream. This can lead to more cavities, bone fractures, and even bone deformations such as rickets.
Problems created from calcium deficiency:
- Osteoporosis, the weakening of bones. More women die from Osteoporosis than breast cancer, cancer of the cervix, and cancer of the uterus combined!
- There is a suggested link between calcium deficiency and colon cancer.
- High Blood Pressure.
Only approximately 25 percent of the calcium we consume each day is utilized due to the interference of other nutrients in calcium absorption. Try to avoid excessive amounts of these guys:
- Salt. Just one teaspoon a day can cause a 1.5 percent loss in bone density each year!
- Caffeine. More than three cups of coffee (about 350mg) has been shown to contribute to bone loss by encouraging the bloodstream to flush calcium from your system.
- Fat. Too much fat in the bloodstream can combine with calcium and block its absorption.
- Alcohol. More than two alcoholic drinks can disrupt your body’s ability to absorb calcium and encourage your body to flush calcium from your system.
- Phosphoric Acid. This is usually found in sodas, and causes the body to flush calcium from the bloodstream and out of the body.
- Oxalic Acid or Phytic Acid. Found in spinach, beets, turnips, and green beans, they block 95 percent of the calcium in these foods (which on a chart look like they are high in calcium) from being absorbed.
Vitamins that help calcium.
- Vitamin D. It helps the body absorb calcium from food going through the digestive system, and helps the kidneys in maintaining a proper level of calcium in the bloodstream. Additionally, Vitamin D can help the body cope with periods of low calcium intake.
- Vitamin C. It improves calcium absorption in the body.
- Magnesium. It works along with calcium to build stronger bones and regulates how calcium is used in some parts of the body.
- Potassium. It works as a team with calcium and magnesium in some of the body’s functions, like blood pressure.
- Zinc. Your body needs zinc to use nutrients for immunity, for wound healing and for maintaining your senses of taste and smell.
Recommended Dietary Allowances
The USRDA (now RDI) for Calcium is 1000mg. The NIH’s Recommended Calcium Levels are:
|Birth to 6 Months||400mg|
|6 Months to 1 Year||600mg|
|Children 1 to 5 Years||800mg|
|Children 6 to 10 Years||800 to 1200mg|
|11 to 24 Years||1200 to 1500mg|
|Pregnant Women||1200 to 1500mg|
|Men 25 to 65||1000mg|
|Men over 65||1500mg|
Excellent sources of calcium:
- Skim Milk! A glass of skim milk has about 300mg of calcium.
- Yogurt. Nonfat yogurt can have as much as 500mg of calcium.
- Waffles.One waffle usually contains around 170mg of calcium.
- Tofu. Half a cup of tofu contains about 430mg of calcium.
See also: Ten Calcium Tips
Reference: Kaye, Edita M. Bone Builders. New York: Warner Books