Calcium

Milk and other dairy products find their way to our tables everyday and are a central player in our daily nutrition. Dairy products are an important source of calcium. Calcium plays an important role in bone and teeth production as well as other roles in blood clotting, nerve impulses, heartbeat regulation and muscular movement.

Calcium stores are found in the bone. If a person's diet does not supply enough calcium, the calcium stored in the bones will be moved to the blood stream. It is important to supply the body with calcium daily, since bones are constantly renewing themselves and using up the calcium fed to the body. A imbalance of calcium in the body (where calcium is lacking) will result in a lower bone density. The walls of the bone will become weaker and more fragile. A lack of calcium at an early age can lead to osteoporosis later in life.

Osteoporosis is a disease which effects the bone's mineralization density. Bone depletion normally begins after age 35 among both men and women.

Calcium absoption is dependent on a number of factors:

  • Age
    The ability to absorb calcium decreases with age. Therefore it is very important to preserve a positive calcium balance throughout adolescence.
  • Vitamin D
    Vitamin D is produced when a person is exposed to sunlight. Vitamin D increase the absorption rates of calcium in the digestive system and helps absorb it into bone tissue. A vitamin D deficiency can cause caclium to be released out of the one and into the blood stream.
  • Magnesium, Flouride and Vitamin K
    In small amounts, these elements help the blood absorb calcium from the intestines.
  • Vitamin C and Lactose
    These two elements create a acidic environment which helps absorb calcium in the intestines. There are certain foods whose acidic levels prevent the absorption of calcium, such as spinach, high fiber foods or drinks with cocoa.

Calcium Deficiency

  • Low-calcium diet
    Calcium deficiency can begin at a young age, therefore it is very important to maintain a balanced diet which includes enough calcium. Many studies show that if a person can maintain the optimal bone density, this prevents deficiency and osteoporosis.
  • Genetics
    Bone density is determined both by hereditary and acquired factors. Smaller, thinner and shorter people are more likely to suffer from osteoporosis.
  • Estrogen
    Bone density decline occurs simultaneously to the the release of estrogen. Menopausal women taking hormone supplements are less likely to develop osteoporosis.
  • Exercise
    Lack of exercise is a significant risk factor, as exercise encourage bone production. Inactivity causes a decrease in bone density.
  • Caffeine, Alcohol and Smoking
  • High Intake of Sodium
    This can cause the release of calcium through the urine.
  • Steroids
    Some steroids prevent the absorption of calcium in the body.
  • Fizzy Drinks

Recommendations to Prevent Osteoporosis

  • calcium-rich diet
  • avoid fizzy drinks
  • avoid smoking
  • exercise
  • avoid excessive amount of coffee a day (up to 3 cups)
  • flavonoid-rich foods such as blueberries and cherries help stabilize collagen, a protein in the bone

Osteoporosis

If you aren't worried about osteoporosis, you aren't thinking too far ahead. Bones are contantly being built and destroyed. Up to the age of 30, the rate of bone production is higher than that of bone breakdown. The rate of breaking down the bone gets much faster among women going through menopause. New studies have shown the importance of calcium consumption during childhood and adolescence, as this is the time bone density is formed. The phenomenon of bone density deterioration is called osteoporosis.

The good news is, is that women can lower their risk of osteoporosis by living a healthy lifestyle, which includes enough calcium, vitamin D and physical activity. It is important to keep up this lefstyleeven after menopause.

Did you know?
3 out of every 4 women do not get the recommended dose of calcium

AgeRecommended Dose

4-8 800 mg.
9-18 1300 mg.
19-50 1000 mg.
51-70 1200 mg.

What foods contain high amounts of calcium?

  • cheeses
  • leben
  • milk
  • yogurt
  • cabbage
  • parsley
  • spinach*
  • celery
  • soybeans
  • nuts**
  • almonds**
  • sesame**
  • sardines

There are also many calcium-enriched foods that are available:

  • yogurt
  • milk
  • certain cheeses
  • some pizza brands
  • breads
  • certain cereals
  • some soy products

There are calcium supplements available, but should only be taken after consulting with a doctor or dietician.
Lactose-intolerant women should speak to a dietician to see how they can supplement calcium in their diet.


* spinach and chocolate also contain inhibitors that make it hard to absorb the calcium.
** These foods are also high in calories.