What does calcium do for your body and should you be taking it?

Calcium is one of the most important minerals our bodies need. All living organisms need it to survive. It is a vitamin that our bodies don’t produce, which means that we need to get it from the food we eat or from supplements. 


In this article, we break down what calcium does for your body. We also cover how much you should be taking and where you can get it from.


Why we need calcium


Calcium is a mineral that plays many important roles in your body’s basic functions. This includes circulating blood, moving muscles, and releasing hormones. You may not know this, but if you don’t get enough calcium from the food you eat or the supplements you take, your body will start to take it from your bones. That’s not a good thing.


It’s key for bone development and maintenance


Calcium is vitally important for our bones. Without it, they wouldn’t be able to develop, grow or stay healthy. While for children it is vital for their development and growth, once we stop growing calcium plays the key role of maintaining our bones and slowing down density loss.


It’s even more important for women


It’s important for females, with many reports stressing the importance (1). While playing a key role in the development of girls and then maintenance later in life, it’s especially important for women over the age of 50. After experiencing menopause, women can lose bone density faster than men. This can lead to osteoporosis. As such, medical professionals suggest that women increase their calcium intake once they reach this age.


Here are a few other reasons why it is so important:

  1. Our muscles: It helps to regulate muscle contraction
  2. Our cardiovascular system: Calcium helps to prevent blood clots and helps maintain the function of the heart muscle
  3. Our brains: Calcium helps to carry messages from our brains to various parts of our bodies
  4. Our teeth: While we’ve spoken about the importance of calcium for our bones, it’s as important for keeping our teeth healthy


What's important to take note of is that Vitamin D and calcium go hand-in-hand. Our bodies needs Vitamin D to absorb calcium. This means that if you want the full benefit of Calcium it is best to have a diet that is rich in Vitamin D.


How much should you be taking?


When it comes to calcium, the recommended amount for most adults is 1,000 mg per day. For women over the age of 50 and men over the age of 70, 1,200 mg is recommended. There is a negative effect if you take too much calcium though, which includes gastrointestinal issues (2). 


What do we get calcium from?


We get calcium from a variety of foods. Here’s a list of some of them:


  • Seeds: Some seeds are packed with calcium, such as sesame, poppy, and chia seeds
  • Leafy greens: Consider adding spinach, kale, and collard greens to your diet
  • Fortified foods: This includes various types of cereals, even more so when milk is added
  • Figs: Dried figs are rich in fiber, antioxidants, and calcium
  • Almonds: Of all the nuts out there, almonds are one of the highest in calcium
  • Sardines: They are packed with calcium
  • Tofu: Another excellent source of calcium
  • Broccoli: One raw ½ cup gives you 21 milligrams of calcium per serving.

This is only a short list of the many sources of calcium. 


The verdict


As you can see, the health benefits of calcium are clear. With plenty of foods packed with calcium and numerous supplements out there, there is no reason why we shouldn’t be getting the required daily amount.

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