Including this mineral in your diet and taking it as a supplement is important for the skeletal, muscle and cardiovascular systems to function properly.
Medical Advisor Édgar Ramírez Bojacá
Obgyn and epidemiologist, practitioner at Coomeva Private Healthcare
When people talk about taking calcium, what is the first thing that comes to your mind? Perhaps the idea of drinking milk to protect your bones comes to mind, of course! It is true that this is one way to protect your bones. However, this mineral is not just important for the skeletal system, it also plays a role in our muscle and cardiovascular systems.
According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, “The body stores more than 99 percent of its calcium in the bones and teeth to help make and keep them strong. The rest is stored throughout the body in the blood, muscles and in the fluids between cells. Your body needs calcium to help muscles and blood vessels contract and expand, to secrete hormones and enzymes and to send messages through the nervous system.”
So, are supplements necessary? The answer is yes. According to Édgar Ramírez Bojacá, OBGYN and epidemiologist, some people think that the calcium you receive from the foods you eat every day is enough, and that supplements are not necessary. “This is not true. Studies show that about 50% of the population does not get their basic needs for calcium met through their diet, which makes taking calcium supplements necessary. The same thing happens with people who think that because they take these supplements, they don’t need to include this mineral in their diet. This also isn’t true because supplements alone are not enough to meet the needs of the skeletal system, cardiovascular system and central and peripheral nervous system,” our expert explains.
Calcium-rich foods: Milk, yogurt and cheese are the most widely recognized sources of calcium. Kale, broccoli and Green leafy vegetables. Nuts such as walnuts, almonds and pistachios.
Requirements by age group
It is important to consume calcium throughout your entire life. Humans need it from the day they are born. Each age group has different needs, however:
Age and population group Recommended daily amount
- Babies up to 6 months old 200 mg
- Babies between 7 and 12 months old 260 mg
- Children between ages 1 and 3 700 mg
- Children between ages 4 and 8 1,000 mg
- Children between ages 9 and 13 1,300 mg
- Teens between ages 14 and 18 1,300 mg
- Adults between ages 19 and 50 1,000 mg
- Men between ages 51 and 70 1,000 mg
- Women between ages 51 and 70 1,200 mg
- Adults over age 71 1,200 mg
- Pregnant or breastfeeding teens 1,300 mg
- Pregnant or breastfeeding women 1,200 to 1,500 mg
Things to consider
Truth: The body loses its ability to absorb this mineral when menopause hits. Menopause in women is a sign of change; they experience hot flashes, changes in mood and changes in how their body functions. The body’s ability to absorb calcium is not an exception. Ramírez states that with menopause, the concentration of calcium reduces in the bones. As estrogen levels lower and as the absorption of calcium in the intestine lowers, more of this mineral is therefore excreted through the kidneys.
- The consumption of calcium leads to kidney stones. False. In order for kidney stones to form, high doses of calcium (over 2,500 mg a day) must be taken over long periods time.
- Calcium causes weight gain. False. When calcium attaches to fat cells, it affects our bodyweight; however, its consumption can actually stabilize bodyweight in some cases.
- All calcium supplements are the same. False. The use of calcium citrate is preferred for its effects on the bones.
- Vitamin D is needed for calcium to be absorbed. True. Without vitamin D, there is a higher risk of developing osteoporosis. Some sources of this vitamin include direct and controlled sun exposure, and eating eggs and fish.