What You Need to Know About Calcium

Dairy products, green vegetables and some varieties of fish are high in calcium.

Dairy products, green vegetables and some varieties of fish are high in calcium.

What is calcium?
Calcium is a vital mineral found throughout the body and in many foods. Your body relies on calcium for many of its daily functions.

Why is calcium important?
Calcium is crucial for bone health. In earlier life, it helps build stronger, denser bones. In later life, calcium maintains healthy bones. Unfortunately many Americans are woefully deficient in calcium.

While almost 99 percent of the calcium in our bodies is in our bones and teeth, supporting their structure and stability, calcium has other important functions as well. It helps blood clot, assists your nerves in sending messages, supports muscle contraction, and many other body functions.

Here’s the kicker. Our bodies are unable to produce calcium on their own, which is why it’s so important to get enough calcium through diet or through supplementation. When we don’t get enough calcium for our body’s needs, calcium is robbed from our bones.

How can calcium benefit me?
Calcium is beneficial at any age. During childhood and adolescence, a proper intake of calcium plus vitamin D helps build optimum bone mass. For adults, calcium is important as it slows the rate of bone loss that naturally occurs with aging.

Significant research has shown that supplementing with calcium and vitamin D is an effective means of maintaining or increasing bone density, preventing osteoporosis, and potentially protecting your health in many other ways.

Do certain foods contain calcium?
Dairy products, such milk, yogurt and cheese, are high in calcium. Green vegetables, such as kale, broccoli, and Chinese cabbage are calcium rich. Even fish, like salmon, contains calcium in smaller amounts. Many foods are calcium-fortified including cereals and orange juice.

Should I take calcium supplements?
Substantial research has shown calcium supplements to be effective in maintaining and increasing bone density. The amount of calcium needed from a supplement depends on your age and your natural dietary intake. Talk with your healthcare practitioner to determine what is right for you.

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