In a nutshell
Calcium and vitamin D work together to build strong bones and teeth. Bones and teeth contain about 99 percent of the body's calcium. This nutrient is especially essential for women during the pregnancy because a lot of this mineral is going to build bones of a growing fetus.
Calcium is essential for many other body functions as well. This mineral helps with correct muscle contractions and relaxation for both skeletal and smooth muscles, including the heart. This nutrient helps to regulate nerve signals, hormones, and other chemicals within the body. Calcium also helps regulate proper blood flow through blood vessels and helps with normal blood clotting.
Calcium in the diet helps reduce high blood pressure and osteoporosis. Research shows that this nutrient may help to prevent certain types of cancer, cardiovascular disease, and other conditions.
Calcium deficiency symptoms can be avoided by eating a healthy and balanced diet with enough dairy products, vegetables, and fruits.
In those who are not getting enough of this nutrient, symptoms may take some time to become apparent. In the case of lack of this mineral in the diet, the body will take the necessary amount of calcium from the bones (actually, bones are calcium-store of the body). This will result in bone weakening and possibly osteoporosis. In addition to bone loss, some other calcium deficiency symptoms include:
• Tingling and numbness in the fingers and hands;
• Poor appetite;
• Abnormal heart rhythm;
• Muscle cramps;
High blood calcium levels are referred to as hypercalcemia. Overdose and toxicity symptoms do not typically occur when calcium is obtained from natural food sources and is more likely to occur with supplements. Symptoms may include:
• Nausea and vomiting;
• Loss of appetite;
• Increased thirst and urination;
• Dry mouth;
• Confusion or delirium;
Daily Recommended Intake
Daily Recommended Intake. The recommended daily intake of this mineral goes up during childhood and then back down during adulthood through aging. The recommended daily intake for calcium is:
• Infants: 200 - 260 mg;
• Children aged 1 - 8 : 700-1000 mg;
• Children aged 9 -18: 1300 mg;
• Adults 19 - 50: 1000 mg;
• Adults 51 years and up to 1200 mg;
• Pregnant and nursing women: 1500 - 2000 mg.
Sources of calcium
Due to the importance of this mineral for human organism, plenty of foods are fortified with Calcium. It is advisable to obtain this mineral from calcium rich foods whenever possible. Some calcium-rich foods include:
• Poppy seeds (100g) -1438 mg;
• Sesame seeds (roasted) (100g) -989 mg;
• Cheese (such as cheddar, mozzarella, Swiss) (100g) - 600-900 mg;
• Sardines (canned in oil) (100g) -382 mg;
• Soybeans, (dry) (100g) - 201 mg;
• Cow milk (100g) - 120 mg;
• Oranges (100g)- 40 mg;
• Broccoli, Cabbage, Celery (100g) -40 mg.