Calcium is the most common mineral in our bodies. There is scientific proof that we need sufficient amounts of calcium in our nutrition. This is relevant for every phase in life, both old and young. Calcium supports the build-up of bone mass with children and with adults the mineral contributes to the maintenance of bones, normal blood clotting and proper functioning of muscles and nerves.
Calcium is an important building block for the bones, as 99% of the calcium in the body is stored in the bones. Bone tissue is continuously broken down (bone resorption) and built up (bone formation) for recovery after minor ‘damage’ and in order to adapt the strength of the bone to the load exerted on it. A varied diet with sufficient calcium, phosphorus, protein and vitamin K and vitamin D plays a role in the maintenance of strong bones. Calcium contributes to the development of the bones while growing (children) and in the maintenance phase of the bone tissue for adults and elderly people.
Bones, muscles and nerves
In addition to the contribution made by calcium to the maintenance of bone mass, calcium supports other bodily functions as well, such as proper blood clotting and the normal functioning of muscles and nerves. When the body needs more calcium than taken in through nutrition, the calcium stored in the bones can be used to maintain the correct calcium level in the blood.
Dairy products, such as milk, yoghurt and cheese, naturally contain calcium. Legumes, vegetables and nuts contain calcium as well, but in smaller amounts. In a varied diet, dairy largely contributes to the intake of calcium. A glass of milk (200 ml) naturally contains about 240 mg calcium. This is more than 30% of the daily reference intake for calcium. A diet containing sufficient calcium can be composed without dairy, but this is not easy. A large portion (200 grams) of boiled broccoli contains about 70 mg calcium. Paksoi (200 grams) provides about 190 mg calcium.
- Dawson-Hughes, B. et al (2013). Bone care for the postmenopausal woman. International Osteoporosis Foundation 2013. Zwitserland, Nyon.
- Heaney, R.P. (2009). Dairy and bone health. J Am Coll Nutr, 2009. 28 Suppl 1: p. 82S-90S. ILSI (1999). Calcium in nutrition. ILSI Europe Concise Monograph Series. International life sciences institute, Brussel, België, 1999.
- Institute of Medicine (US) Committee to Review Dietary Reference Intakes for Vitamin D and Calcium; Ross AC, Taylor CL, Yaktine AL, et al, editors. Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 2011.