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Calcium is the most abundant mineral found in the human body. It is stored largely in the bones and teeth where they act as structure and maintain cellular functions.
Calcium is required for vascular contraction, vasodilation (aka the expanding and contracting of blood vessels), muscle function, nerve transmission, intracellular signaling and hormone secretion. In short, calcium is an extremely important signaling molecule needed in almost all functions of life. Further roles include regulation of heart function, blood clotting control, and even enzyme function.
Unfortunately, in the most recent Australian Nutrition Survey, 73% of women and 51% of men do not achieve the recommended dietary intake. A lack of calcium will result in weaker bones, increased osteoporosis risk, and even rickets. Symptoms of hypocalcaemia include numbness and tingling in the fingers, muscle cramps, lethargy, poor appetite, abnormal heart rhythms and even convulsions. If left untreated, results in death.
Increased risk of calcium deficiency is involved with:
- High sodium and protein intake increase calcium excretion.
- Caffeine intake results in increased calcium excretion and decreased absorption (watch out coffee drinkers! – 1 cup of coffee = roughly 2-3mg lost)
- Alcohol intake reduces calcium absorption by inhibiting liver enzymes that work with vitamin D.
- Menstrual cycles result in the lowest phase of calcium absorption. With the majority of women not achieving RDI as it is, you can see why this could be a problem. IF you have severe PMS, calcium supplementation can provide relief for almost all symptoms experienced (choose one which includes Vitamin D, Vitamin K and Magnesium for high absorption rates)
- Vegans who have less access to calcium rich foods.
Both men and women have an RDI of 1000mg/day for calcium with increased need as they age. Women over the age of 50 require up to 1300mg/day of calcium as do men over the age of 70. According to the NRV, Calcium RDI has to be reached daily for the first 18 years of life to reach peak bone density.
Top 10 foods that are high in calcium:
- Low-fat yoghurt
- Part-skim mozzarella
- Canned sardines with bones
- Cheddar Cheese
- Non-fat milk
- Calcium-fortified soy milk
- Cottage cheese
- Fresh cooked kale
- Raw Chinese cabbage
- White bread
Supplementation advice: Most shelf supplements come in the form of calcium carbonate which is great when taken whilst eating food as it relies on stomach acids for absorption. Look for a supplement which combines both citrate and carbonate to allow for easier absorption. Make sure that the supplement also contains Vitamin D3, Vitamin K and Magnesium to increase absorption to even higher percentages. Again, of course, take a GMP pharmaceutical grade, potency guaranteed supplement when you can.
To see/purchase the GMP pharmaceutical grade, NSF, TGA, FDA, Informed Choice and potency guaranteed approved products that I have trusted for my personal supplementation for the last 15 years, click here.
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