Calcium Info – by SunCoastHealthCare.com
Calcium, the most abundant mineral in the body, is found in some foods, added to others, available as a dietary supplement, and present in some medicines (such as antacids). Calcium is required for vascular contraction and vasodilation, muscle function, nerve transmission, intracellular signaling and hormonal secretion, though less than 1% of total body calcium is needed to support these critical metabolic functions.
Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA): average daily level of intake sufficient to meet the nutrient requirements of nearly all (97%–98%) healthy individuals.
Adequate Intake (AI): established when evidence is insufficient to develop an RDA and is set at a level assumed to ensure nutritional adequacy.
Estimated Average Requirement (EAR): average daily level of intake estimated to meet the requirements of 50% of healthy individuals. It is usually used to assess the adequacy of nutrient intakes in populations but not individuals.
Tolerable Upper Intake Level (UL): maximum daily intake unlikely to cause adverse health effects .
The FNB established RDAs for the amounts of calcium required for bone health and to maintain adequate rates of calcium retention in healthy people. They are listed in Table 1 in milligrams (mg) per day.
Table 1: Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDAs) for Calcium:
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
* Adequate Intake (AI)
Sources of Calcium
Milk, yogurt, and cheese are rich natural sources of calcium and are the major food contributors of this nutrient to people in the United States . Nondairy sources include vegetables, such as Chinese cabbage, kale, and broccoli. Spinach provides calcium, but its bioavailability is poor. Most grains do not have high amounts of calcium unless they are fortified; however, they contribute calcium to the diet because they contain small amounts of calcium and people consume them frequently. Foods fortified with calcium include many fruit juices and drinks, tofu, and cereals. Selected food sources of calcium are listed in Table 2.
Table 2: Selected Food Sources of Calcium:
Food Milligrams (mg)
per serving Percent DV*
Yogurt, plain, low fat, 8 ounces 415 42
Mozzarella, part skim, 1.5 ounces 333 33
Sardines, canned in oil, with bones, 3 ounces 325 33
Yogurt, fruit, low fat, 8 ounces 313–384 31–38
Cheddar cheese, 1.5 ounces 307 31
Milk, nonfat, 8 ounces** 299 30
Soymilk, calcium-fortified, 8 ounces 299 30
Milk, reduced-fat (2% milk fat), 8 ounces 293 29
Milk, buttermilk, lowfat, 8 ounces 284 28
Milk, whole (3.25% milk fat), 8 ounces 276 28
Orange juice, calcium-fortified, 6 ounces 261 26
Tofu, firm, made with calcium sulfate, ½ cup*** 253 25
Salmon, pink, canned, solids with bone, 3 ounces 181 18
Cottage cheese, 1% milk fat, 1 cup 138 14
Tofu, soft, made with calcium sulfate, ½ cup*** 138 14
Ready-to-eat cereal, calcium-fortified, 1 cup 100–1,000 10–100
Frozen yogurt, vanilla, soft serve, ½ cup 103 10
Turnip greens, fresh, boiled, ½ cup 99 10
Kale, fresh, cooked, 1 cup 94 9
Ice cream, vanilla, ½ cup 84 8
Chinese cabbage, bok choi, raw, shredded, 1 cup 74 7
Bread, white, 1 slice 73 7
Pudding, chocolate, ready to eat, refrigerated, 4 ounces 55 6
Tortilla, corn, ready-to-bake/fry, one 6” diameter 46 5
Tortilla, flour, ready-to-bake/fry, one 6” diameter 32 3
Sour cream, reduced fat, cultured, 2 tablespoons 31 3
Bread, whole-wheat, 1 slice 30 3
Kale, raw, chopped, 1 cup 24 2
Broccoli, raw, ½ cup 21 2
Cheese, cream, regular, 1 tablespoon 14 1
* DV = Daily Value. DVs were developed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to help.
Calcium deficiency symptoms can include:
-Osteopenia or Osteoporosis
-High blood pressure.
Top 10 Calcium Rich Foods;
1) Raw Milk
1 cup: 300 mg (30% DV)
2) Kale (cooked)
1 cup: 245 mg (24% DV)
3) Sardines (with bones)
2 ounces: 217 mg (21% DV)
4) Yogurt or Kefir
6 oz: 300 mg (30% DV)
1 ½ cup cooked: 93 mg (9% DV)
1 cup: 41 mg (4% DV)
1 oz: 224 mg (22% DV)
8) Bok Choy
1 cup:74 mg (7% DV)
1 cup: 82 mg (8% DV)
1 oz: 76 mg (8% DV).
Calcium is critical in the teens into the early 20s when bones are solidifying and the body is achieving its peak bone mass. The greater the peak bone mass, the longer one can delay osteoporosis or loss of bone mass at a later age. More than 10 million US adults are affected by osteoporosis and it is one of the leading causes of broken bones in the elderly.
Studies have shown that consuming calcium rich foods are associated with a decreased risk of colon and rectal cancers. The evidence is not enough to recommend calcium supplements for the prevention of colon cancer, but eating calcium rich foods may have the same effect. (There’s actually a link between calcium supplements and heart attacks, so it’s best to get the mineral from calcium rich food sources.)
There is a connection between calcium intake and lower body weight. It is believed that calcium in the diet can bind to fat in the digestive system, preventing absorption, therefore lowering the calories that actually make it into the body.
Blood pressure and heart health
Calcium rich foods help relax smooth muscle, found in the veins and arteries, and can help reduce blood pressure. The DASH Diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) recommends a diet high in calcium to help improve blood pressure. (Note, full-fat dairy has been shown to be healthier compared to low-fat dairy.)
Calcium, being the most important mineral, tends to get neglected the most. Children usually fuss about having milk and eventually stop drinking milk altogether. It should be widely known that such deficiencies of calcium can result in many diseases over the long term. If milk and dairy products are not desirable, try to combine these ingredients with other cereals and make recipes that involve milk and dairy products. However, all dietary supplement stores and pharmacists have calcium supplements in their stores, though it’s always advisable to take a physician’s advice before starting any medicinal treatment.