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Functions of Calcium Functions of Calcium
If you were to mention calcium, bone health comes to mind. While calcium is most abundant in the human bones, it is vital for... Functions of Calcium
picture of milk

With every gram of protein intake, 6mg of calcium is lost in the urine.

If you were to mention calcium, bone health comes to mind. While calcium is most abundant in the human bones, it is vital for body functions that include nerve transmission, heart health, immune function and blood clotting.
Calcium supplementation has been found to reduce the risk of colon cancer. It has been shown that increasing calcium-rich food sources can help lower high blood pressure and cholesterol.
It seems that the calcium ions are capable of removing cholesterol via their action on bile acids which prevent cholesterol from entering the gut.
A recent study also shows that calcium also enhances weight loss. The study was carried out on 32 obese adults who were divided randomly into three groups.
Each group was given a standard diet of which Group I had about 400 to 500mg calcium daily, group II had 800mg of calcium daily, and Group III had the highest amount of calcium divided into three servings totaling 1,200 to 1,300mg a day.
The outcome of the study after 24 weeks showed the greatest weight loss with the highest calcium intake. Group III’s average weight loss was 11.1 kg compared to 8.6kg in Group II and 6.6kg in Group I.
The good news was that the fat loss was mainly from the trunk region. The study was funded by the National Dairy Council which supported consuming calcium in the form of dairy products.
Milk products offer the most calcium content and non-dairy calcium sources include collard greens, Chinese cabbage, mustard greens, broccoli, bok choy, tofu and small fishes with fine bones such as sardines. The recommended daily intake for adults is between 800mg and 1,200mg daily.
While dairy sources are calcium-rich food sources, a review of several studies shows that calcium from milk products may not improve bone health.
This is reflected in the incidence of fracture rates in the United States that have not decreased despite the increase in consumption of dairy products.
This is due to the fact that while milk products are high in calcium, they are also rich protein sources. With every gram of protein intake, 6mg of calcium is lost in the urine.
Other factors that affect calcium absorption is a diet high in phosphates (found in highly processed foods), high phytate content such as in wholegrains, seeds, nuts and raw beans, as well as foods rich in oxalic acid found in beans, sweet potatoes, spinach and rhubarb.
Inadequate or low stomach acid not only affects absorption of calcium but also other minerals as the acid is required to liberate the minerals in their ionic form from food.
A low magnesium intake also affects calcium level in the body especially in the bones as magnesium is required for the conversion of vitamin D to its active form for bone density. It has been shown that magnesium levels are low in women with osteoporosis.
Excessive coffee and tea intake also depletes the body’s calcium level as the caffeine in these beverages binds with calcium and excretes it via its diuretic action on the kidneys.
While our daily intake of calcium ideally should be from food, it is quite difficult to achieve the daily requirement of 1,200mg from food alone.
A cup of milk, soya milk and yoghurt will provide between 200 and 300mg of calcium. Vegetables like broccoli and bok choy supply between 50 and 100mg of calcium per cup.
If certain people suffer from dairy sensitivities and lactose intolerance and that dietary factor could affect the uptake of calcium, it may be worthwhile to consider a calcium supplement. Calcium supplements are available in many forms and the citrate form is found to be better absorbed.