Function of Calcium:
Calcium is essential for the normal growth and maintenance of bones and teeth. It
also helps the heart, nerves, muscles, and other body systems to work properly.
Calcium requirements must be met throughout life. Requirements are greatest during
periods of growth such as during pregnancy, breast feeding, and childhood. In order
for calcium to function correctly, it must be accompanied by several other nutrients
including magnesium, phosphorous, and vitamins A, C, D, and K.
Deficiency of Calcium:
Several conditions can lead to calcium deficiency including prolonged bed rest
(depletes calcium from bones), malnutrition, Crohn's disease, celiac disease, surgical
intestinal resection, and other diseases that cause malabsorption problems. The
elderly are also less able to absorb calcium.
Calcium deficiency over a long period of time can contribute to the development of
osteoporosis, which makes bones more susceptible to fracture. Symptoms of
calcium deficiency include poor tooth and bone development; dry skin and nails;
muscle spasms or cramping; numbness, tingling, or burning sensation around the
mouth and fingers; hair loss (alopecia); nausea and vomiting; yeast infections;
headaches; anxiety; and convulsions/seizures.
Note: A variety of medical conditions can lead to the symptoms mentioned above. Therefore, it is
important to have a physician evaluate them so that appropriate medical care can be given.
Toxicity (Calcium Overdose):
Calcium supplements may contain lead. Lead is a toxic metal (especially to children
and those with kidney disease) that can harm the brain and kidneys, cause anemia,
and raise blood pressure. Calcium supplements which are derived from oyster shells,
dolomite, and bone meal are more likely to contain lead. To avoid lead poisoning
from calcium supplements, look for labels which indicate that the supplements have
been tested for lead content.
Taking high doses of calcium supplements results in abnormally elevated blood
calcium (hypercalcemia). There may be no symptoms associated with mild
hypercalcemia or there may be symptoms including loss of appetite, nausea,
vomiting, constipation, abdominal pain, dry mouth, thirst, and frequent urination.
Results of more severe hypercalcemia include confusion, delirium, coma, and death if
Caution: Eating natural foods that are high in calcium is the safest and healthiest way
to get an adequate supply of the nutrient. Due to risk of toxicity, individuals should
always consult with a knowledgeable health care provider before starting doses of
supplements. Before giving supplements to children, it is recommended that you first
consult with their pediatrician. Also, some supplements may interfere with
medications. If you are taking medication, it is recommended that you consult with
your physician before taking any supplements. All supplements should be kept in
childproof bottles and out of children's reach.
Calcium Food Chart (List of Foods High in Calcium):
Milk 8 ounces - (300 mg)
Yogurt 8 ounces - (300 mg)
Cheddar cheese 1.5 ounces - (303 mg)
Tofu, calcium set, 1/2 cup - (258 mg)
Chinese cabbage, cooked, 1/2 cup - (239 mg)
Rhubarb, cooked, 1/2 cup - (174 mg)
Spinach, cooked, 1/2 cup - (115 mg)
White beans, cooked, 1/2 cup - (113 mg)
Bok choy, cooked, 1/2 cup - (79 mg)
Kale, cooked, 1/2 cup - (61 mg)
Pinto beans, cooked, 1/2 cup - (45 mg)
Red beans, cooked, 1/2 cup - (41 mg)
Broccoli, cooked, 1/2 cup - (35 mg)
American Dietetic Association: Complete Food And Nutrition Guide (2nd Edition)
Roberta Larson Duyff, MS, RD, FADA, CFCS
Vitamins, Minerals, Herbs and More
Pamela Wartian Smith, MD, MPH
University of Maryland Medical Center - umm.edu
Linus Pauling Institute - oregonstate.edu
Wikipedia The Free Encyclopedia
Eating foods that are high in
calcium can help to prevent
conditions such as rickets, poor
blood clotting, and osteoporosis.
Foods that are high in calcium
include: dairy products, tofu,
chinese cabbage, spinach, kale,
red beans, pinto beans, and
What is Calcium?
Calcium, the most abundant
mineral in the body, is an
important component of a
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