Both the deficiency and too much intake of Calcium into the body have severe health effects — both negative — and we have to eat just the amount needed by our body.
Don’t get this wrong, we need Calcium to help form and maintain healthy teeth and bones. It is one of the most important minerals needed by the human body.
This article will highlight the important functions of Calcium in the body, the benefits of calcium and side effects of “too low” and “too high” intake of Calcium.
This will be outlined when we discuss the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for every class of people — children, adults, pregnant women, lactating mothers, etc.
We will also talk about “what is too low” and “what is too high”, as well as common foods high in calcium.
Benefits of Calcium to the body you should know;
Calcium helps our body with:
• Building strong bones and teeth
• Clotting blood
• Sending and receiving nerve signals
• Squeezing and relaxing muscles
• Releasing hormones and other chemicals
• Keeping a normal heartbeat
So, what are the conditions that could arise from not consuming enough calcium and those that could arise from consuming too much calcium?
Side effects of Calcium in the body
The body needs enough supply of Calcium to perform the functions listed earlier in this article. Increased intake of calcium for a short period of time does not normally cause side effects but this could change over a prolonged intake.
Consuming higher amounts of calcium over a long period of time raises the risk of kidney stones in some people. There is also a side effect when you don’t take enough.
People who consume inadequate amount of Calcium over a long period of time can develop osteoporosis (thinning of bone tissue and loss of bone density over time).
Recommended Daily Allowance of Calcium
The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for this mineral called Calcium is telling us how much of Calcium most people should get each day. The amount of calcium we need hugely depends on some factors such as age and gender. Other factors, such as pregnancy, illnesses, bone mass, are also very important in determining the RDA.
Infants (Adequate Intake)
0 – 6 months: 200 milligrams per day (mg/day)
7 – 12 months: 260 mg/day
Children and Adolescents
1 – 3 years: 700 mg/day
4 – 8 years: 1,000 mg/day
9 – 18 years: 1,300 mg/day
19 – 50 years: 1,000 mg/day
50 – 70 years: Men – 1,000 mg/day; Women – 1,200 mg/day
Over 71 years – 1,200 mg/day
Pregnant and Breast-feeding women
14 – 18 years: 1,300 mg/day
19 – 50 years: 1,000 mg/day
Up to 2,500 – 3,000 mg a day of calcium from dietary sources and supplements appears to be safe for children and adolescents, and 2,000 – 2,500 mg a day appears to be safe for adults.
The following list can help you determine how much calcium you are getting from food: (Calcium-rich Foods List)
Some foods high in calcium include:
5. Dark leafy greens vegetables
6. Fortified cereals such as Corn Flakes (they can have a lot of calcium in one serving, make sure to check the “Ingredients Listing” and “Nutritional Compass” on the food pack)
8. Fortified soymilk (check the label)
For those that are lactose intolerant, you only need to go for dairy food options that do not contain lactose e.g yogurt, in which the lactose had been converted to lactic acid.
Sardines and dark leafy vegetables are also easy to get and not costly. Soybeans and fortified soy milk made from the beans can also be very good sources of calcium.
Not all soy milk is rich in calcium, so check the label to see if they are fortified.