Minerals

Calcium – Dietary Mineral

Calcium is an important component of a healthy diet and is a mineral that is necessary for life. Ninety nine percent of the body’s calcium is stored in our bones and teeth and the rest 1% is in the body fluid and cells to perform many metabolic activities and muscle contraction. It is also one of the most abundant dietary mineral found in our body.

Calcium – Sources

Milk Rich in CalciumAll the dairy products like milk, butter milk, cheese and yogurt are good sources of calcium. Today allergy to dairy product is a common form of allergy and these people should consume other non dairy sources of calcium. Vegans should also be very careful about the daily intake of calcium. The other good sources of calcium are seeds and nuts like almonds, hazelnuts, sesame, pistachio; and fruits like figs and mangoes; and vegetables like okra, broccoli, kale and cauli-flower. Calcium is also available through many fortified drinks like orange juices an soy milk.

One thing we need to be careful about consuming vegetables for calcium is the presence of oxallic acid. Oxallic acid is responsible for the calcium stone formation in the kidneys. So it is better to avoid excess tomatoes and other vegetables rich in oxallic acid.

Biological Functions of calcium

Calcium is needed for proper functioning of many organs in our body. The important biological functions of calcium are:
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  • Calcium helps in bone formation and bone growth. Unlike many people think calcium is not idle in our bones, everyday there is lot of calcium movement in and out of our bones. It is extremely important for bone strength and growth of children
  • Calcium aids in muscular health
  • Aids the digestive system
  • Aids in the synthesis of blood cells and platelets.
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Calcium for Weight Loss

Calcium don’t directly influence weight loss. However many recent studies (especially by British Journal of Nutrition) proves that calcium intake can reduce weight of people who are calcium deficient. We all know calcium is absolutely essential for our well being and required in good quantities (it is a quantity mineral). So our brain senses lack of calcium in our body and will increase food craving to get the required calcium. Food craving will result in weight gain, so a diet with good amount of calcium it is is important for a maintaining the optimum weight and to control food craving.

There is also a misconception among people that all dairy products will result in weight gain. It is only partly true dairy products like cheese and other high fat dairy products do result in weight gain because of the amount of fats in it. However there are other ways of consuming good quality dairy product. Ayurveda and Siddha medicine advises consumption of butter milk as a supplement for healthy life. Butter milk is made out of churning the Indian Yogurt and removing all the butter from it. This process will remove all the fat and will give a probiotic and healthy butter milk rich in calcium and all other milk nutrients but with very little fat. This is extremly healthy and aids in digestion. However making good buttermilk from homogenized and standardized milk is a bit difficult as the butter(fat) will not isolate easily through churning. Try to get organic whole milk.

This buttermilk can be spiced up with a little bit of dry ginger, Curry leaves, pepper and Cilantro with little salt to taste. This is an excellent food and controls hunger. Anyone following a regimen for weight loss can have this.

Diseases Associated with Calcium

Hypocalcaemia, Oesteoporosis and Rickets is are the common diseases caused due to lack of calcium.

Calcium– Requirements and supplements

Age Male Female Pregnant Lactating
0–6 months* 200 mg 200 mg
7–12 months* 260 mg 260 mg
1–3 years 700 mg 700 mg
4–8 years 1,000 mg 1,000 mg
9–13 years 1,300 mg 1,300 mg
14–18 years 1,300 mg 1,300 mg 1,300 mg 1,300 mg
19–50 years 1,000 mg 1,000 mg 1,000 mg 1,000 mg
51–70 years 1,000 mg 1,200 mg
71+ years 1,200 mg 1,200 mg

The above table illustrates the daily required intake of calcium. We can see that pregnant, lactating women, elder people and growing children needs more calcium. This should be kept in mind while taking calcium supplements.

We always recommend natural sources of nutrients. However if you are lactose intolerant and don’t have access for other good sources of calcium you can have calcium supplement. Calcium is a safe mineral and even minor over-dosages will not cause any side effects (only major over dosage will result in hypercalcemia which in severe cases can result in renal failure), however most of the calcium supplements comes with Vitamin D (especially D3) fortification. Vitamin D overdosage is toxic and should be avoided. Read more about the risks involved using nutrient supplement before opting for supplements.

Our Recommended Calcium Supplement:

Nature Made Calcium Supplements :

  • Specially formulated to increase calcium absorption to help build and maintain strong bones and teeth
  • Helps build and maintain strong bones and teeth
  • Prevent osteoporosis.
  • Naturally made, and the soft gels are easy to swallow

About the author

Ajithkumar

Ajithkumar, an Engineer and a management professional is the founder of AlternativeMedicineWiz.com. He’s practiced Yoga and Pranayama for more than a decade, after learning it from his renowned guru Gireeshan. He has a keen interest in Ayurveda and Siddha medicine.