Calcium is an important mineral required for the proper functioning of the human body. It may play an important role in the development and support of healthy bones and teeth, as well as in muscle function, nerve transmission, and blood clotting support.*
In this guide, we will discuss the nutritional value of calcium, the different forms of calcium, and calcium supplements to help you make informed decisions about your calcium intake.
Nutritional value of calcium
Calcium is the most abundant mineral in the human body, with 99% of it found in our bones and teeth. It is deemed to play a role in:*
- Bone and teeth formation and maintenance
- Muscle contraction and relaxation
- Nerve transmission
- Blood clotting
- Regulation of certain enzyme activities
- Hormone secretion
Daily recommended intake
The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for calcium varies by age, sex, and life stage. The RDA may vary by country and locations. Always review the latest RDA and recommendations as these may change.
- Infants (0-6 months): 200 mg
- Infants (7-12 months): 260 mg
- Children (1-3 years): 700 mg
- Children (4-8 years): 1,000 mg
- Children (9-18 years): 1,300 mg
- Adults (19-50 years): 1,000 mg
- Adult men (51-70 years): 1,000 mg
- Adult women (51-70 years): 1,200 mg
- Adults (71+ years): 1,200 mg
- Pregnant and lactating women: 1,000-1,300 mg, depending on age
This list is not exhaustive and is being provided for educational purposes only. This is not a substitute for medical advice; you should consult with your medical professional before taking any supplements. Please check in your respective country and discuss with your doctor your recommended daily value before using any calcium supplement.
Forms of calcium
Calcium can be obtained from various dietary sources and supplements. The most common forms of calcium include:
- Dairy products: milk, yogurt, cheese
- Leafy green vegetables: kale, collard greens, broccoli, spinach (although calcium is less bioavailable in spinach due to oxalates)
- Fish: salmon, sardines, anchovies (with bones)
- Fortified foods: orange juice, cereals, plant-based milk, tofu
- Nuts and seeds: almonds, sesame seeds, chia seeds
Calcium supplements come in various forms, including:
- Calcium carbonate: This form of calcium has the highest concentration of elemental calcium (40%). It is usually best taken with meals.
- Calcium citrate: This form contains less elemental calcium (21%). It can be taken with or without food.
- Calcium phosphate: Less common, this form is found in some supplements and can be taken with or without food.
- Calcium gluconate and calcium lactate: These forms contain lower levels of elemental calcium (9% and 13%, respectively) and are usually not recommended as the primary source of supplemental calcium.
Absorption factors and considerations
Certain factors can affect calcium absorption in the body, such as:
- Vitamin D: This vitamin is essential for proper calcium absorption. Make sure you receive enough vitamin D through sunlight, diet, or supplements.
- Age: Calcium absorption can decline with age, making it important for older adults to monitor their calcium intake closely.
- Oxalates and Phytates: Found in some plant foods like spinach, rhubarb, and legumes, these substances can reduce calcium absorption. Opt for low-oxalate vegetables like kale and collard greens as calcium sources.
Calcium is a vital mineral necessary for various bodily functions, including supporting bones and teeth. To ensure you get enough calcium, consume a balanced diet that includes calcium-rich foods and consider taking supplements if needed. You can also read about calcium AKG.
Before starting any supplementation or taking a calcium supplement, consult your healthcare provider to determine the appropriate dosage and to discuss any potential interactions with medications you may be taking. By understanding the nutritional value, forms, and precautions related to calcium, you can make informed decisions to support your overall health.