Following on from my weekly tip, I would like to share more information with you on the importance of getting adequate calcium in your daily diet. Calcium is the most abundant mineral in our body. It’s stored in our bones and teeth and released into our bloodstream when needed. Blood calcium plays a critical role in supporting many functions in the body as well as balancing your body pH levels.
Being deficient in calcium is called hypocalcemia. Symptoms of hypocalcemia range from problems with blood clotting, brittle bones, muscle cramps, weakness, fatigue, blood pressure issues to tingling hands and feet. Thankfully this can easily be checked by doing a simple blood test.
We store 99% of our calcium in our bones and teeth and when we are not getting enough calcium from our diet or supplements our body will start to drain these stores to support other bodily functions. If the calcium deficiency goes on for too long this can lead to osteoporosis or making us more likely to get fractures or broken bones.
The remaining 1% of calcium is found in our blood. This calcium plays an important role in nerve and muscle contractions, blood clotting and normal rhythm function of the heart!
It’s important to remember that while we are concentrating on getting enough calcium in our diet, we need to be making sure that we are getting enough vitamin D too. Vitamin D and calcium work together, and vitamin D enhances calcium absorption. If you are deficient in one you're most likely deficient in the other.
As the body grows from a baby to a child the calcium levels needed increase to support skeletal growth. During the teenage years when our bones are bigger but still growing we need about 1300mg of calcium a day. This drops to 1000mg a day during adulthood and then increases back up when we reach the age of about 50. Remembering as we age that calcium is one of the most important minerals involved in the treatment and prevention of osteoporosis, which can lead to brittle bones.
Females over the age of 50 and males over the age of 70 should consider getting there calcium levels checked and either increasing dietary calcium or taking a supplement to make sure they are getting adequate amounts of calcium
Another important time to be making sure you are getting enough calcium in your diet is if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. During the second and third trimester when the baby’s skeleton is rapidly developing the need for extra calcium in the diet through food or supplementation increases. Your body will use whatever calcium is available for your baby, even if it means stealing your supply! So making sure you have enough to support you and your growing baby is very important. Check your prenatal vitamins as many don’t contain calcium.
Increasing calcium intake through diet is always best, but some might require supplementation. Remember to always speak to your GP or nutritionist before starting a new supplement. As mentioned above a simple blood test will be able to determine if one is required.
High Calcium foods
Beans and pulses
As you can see there is a wide variety of calcium rich foods available, so by eating a well balanced varied diet you should be meeting your required levels.