Food and calcium
Foods rich in calcium include dairy sources (milk, yogurt, cheese), vegan sources (beans, lentils, seeds), and other sources (sardines, tuna, eggs).

Some calcium-rich foods include:

  • Dairy sources:
    • Milk
    • Yogurt
    • Cheese
    • Whey
  • Vegan (nondairy) sources:
    • Beans such as kidney beans, black beans, and navy beans
    • Lentils such as red lentils, yellow lentils, and black gram
    • Nuts such as almonds, Brazil nuts, pistachio, and hazelnuts
    • Leafy greens such as spinach, kale, collard greens, beet greens, and Swiss chard
    • Seeds such as chia seeds, flax seeds, sunflower seeds, and sesame seeds
    • Rhubarb
    • Certain gluten-free grains such as teff and amaranth 
    • Certain fruits such as figs, orange, blackcurrants, butternut squash, and berries
    • Soybeans and soy products such as tofu, edamame, tempeh, and natto 
    • Seaweed such as kelp and wakame
    • Blackstrap molasses 
    • Almond butter 
    • Broccoli 
    • Sweet potato
    • Okra 
    • Fortified cereals, flour, juices, crackers, plant milk, and bread
  • Other sources:

What does calcium do in our body?

Calcium plays several important functions in the body. Some of the roles of calcium in our bodies include:

  • Muscle function: Calcium is required for muscle contraction, whereas the release of calcium from the muscles helps them relax.
  • Bone and teeth health: Calcium plays an important role in developing and maintaining healthy bones and teeth. Calcium deficiency can result in weak bones and teeth and may perturb proper development in infants and children.
  • Heart function: Calcium is crucial for the proper functioning of the heart and maintenance of normal heart rhythm. Calcium may promote heart health by regulating blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
  • Nerve function: Calcium is needed for nerve impulses that carry signals through and across nerve fibers.
  • Blood pressure maintenance: Calcium is required for the maintenance of healthy blood pressure.
  • Hormone release: Hormones regulate various crucial processes in the body. Calcium is needed for the release of hormones in the blood.
  • Blood clotting: Calcium is crucial for blood clotting and minimizing blood loss.

Studies report that calcium may play a role in weight management and reducing the risk of cardiovascular diseases, colon cancer, and metabolic syndrome.

QUESTION

According to the USDA, there is no difference between a “portion” and a “serving.” See Answer

How much calcium do you need in a day?

The amount of calcium you need in a day varies according to age and gender.

Table. The recommended amount of calcium by age and gender
Age group Gender The recommended amount per day (milligrams or mg)
Up to 6 months Male 200
Female 200
7 to 12 months Male 260
Female 260
1 to 3 years Male 700
Female 700
4 to 8 years Male 1,000
Female 1,000
9 to 13 years Male 1,300
Female 1,300
14 to 18 years Male 1,300
Female 1,300
19 to 50 years Male 1,000
Female 1,000
51 to 70 years Male 1,000
Female 1,000
71 years and older Male 1,200
Female 1,200
Special situations:
Pregnancy:
Teens - 1,300
Adults - 1,000
Breastfeeding:
Teens - 1,300
Adults - 1,000

What are the signs of low calcium levels in the blood?

Low serum calcium levels (hypocalcemia) refer to serum calcium levels lower than 8.8 mg/dL (lower than 2.2 mmol/L).

Signs and symptoms of hypocalcemia may vary depending on the severity or how low the calcium levels are. Hypocalcemia may present differently in infants and children compared with adults. Mild hypocalcemia may not exhibit any signs and symptoms.

Some of the signs of hypocalcemia include:

A sudden decrease in blood calcium levels, also called acute hypocalcemia, may be a life-threatening condition that can result in the following:

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Medically Reviewed on 4/12/2022
References
Image Source: iStock Image

https://www.bones.nih.gov/health-info/bone/bone-health/nutrition/calcium-and-vitamin-d-important-every-age

https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/drugs/16297-increasing-calcium-in-your-diet

https://emedicine.medscape.com/article/241893-differential