What is the Role of Calcium in the Body?

Foods rich in CalciumOur body contains, believe it or not, from 1 to 2.2 kg of calcium, and calcium is the fifth consecutive element present in the human body. About 99% of it is included within the bones and teeth, mainly in the form of apatite (mineral class of calcium phosphate), and less in the form of calcium carbonate. The remaining 1% of calcium circulates in the blood and participates in important functions in the body.

This means that if we are not entering products rich in calcium then the body “takes the loan” or “steal” from the bones (because there it is the most abundant), which certainly reflects in the quality of the teeth and bones. Teeth begin to spoil which means toothache and visiting the dentist, not to speak about osteoporosis and osteopenia.

Functions of Calcium

  • participates in the formation of bones and teeth
  • normalizes the exchange of body water content and sodium chloride (table salt)
  • affects the acid-base balance of the body
  • affects the contractions of the muscles, especially the muscles of the heart
  • It’s necessary for transport of nerve impulses: it activates the action of ferments participating in the creation of neurotransmitters (chemical substances that are governing the transmission of electrical signals between nerve cells)
  • along with sodium, potassium and magnesium it participates in the regulation of blood pressure
  • regulates process of blood coagulation
  • It’s necessary for the transport of nutrients through the cell membrane
  • Improves the immune system, participates in digestion, especially in the metabolism of fats

What is the daily need?

Daily requirement of calcium in the body depends on age. The children, whose body is in the process of growing up, need 1.2-1.5 g, middle-aged people need about 1.0 g, while those with more than 50 years need more calcium, i.e. about 1.5 g.

Where is calcium present?

Calcium is present in many products, but in some of them it is in such a form that is difficult or not possible to use by the body. For example, from the total calcium that is found in carrots only 13.4% is used, which means that you need to eat about 700 g carrots to be able to get the body only ¼ of the daily required amount. Who could eat that carrot? But calcium is good absorbed from milk and dairy products (excluding butter here). Goat milk and goat cheese are richer in calcium than cow’s milk, and the daily dose of calcium from the body can be served with just 0.5 liters of goat’s milk or 100g goat’s cheese.

Richest in calcium are cabbage, beans, and almonds, while it can also be found in sesame, and lentils. Excellent source of calcium are the soft bones of anchovies and salmon.

The table below summarizes the values ​​of the Calcium content in 100 g of some products.

Products Calcium per 100g Products Calcium per 100g
Poppy 1460 mg Cow’s milk 130 mg
Sesame 1400 mg Cottage cheese 80 mg
Nettle 713 mg Fish 30-90 mg
Sardine in oil 330 mg Bread with bran 60 mg
Rosehip 257 mg Meat <50 mg
Almond 252 mg Beets <50 mg
Hazelnuts 226 mg Dried soybeans 201 mg

Deficiency and Excess

After all this, there is no need to write about the lack of calcium in the body, but you should know that excess calcium has its drawbacks. For example, if you drink water rich in calcium, or if you consume for a while preparations that are rich in calcium and calciferol (vitamin D), it can lead to the occurrence of hypercalcemia whose symptoms include loss of appetite, constant thirst for water, emesis, vomiting, weakness, convulsions (seizures), and increased deposition of calcium in the internal organs especially kidneys, muscles and blood vessels.

It is important to know that the adoption of calcium in the body depends on several factors, in particular the mutual ratio of fat in food fatty acids, protein, vitamin D (calciferol), magnesium and phosphorus.

Calcium is absorbed from the stomach using a fatty acid and bile acid. It is considered that only 1 g of fat is necessary to achieve a successful absorption of 10-15 mg calcium. Thus, excess or lack of fat exacerbates calcium absorption. The absorption of calcium is exacerbated by the lack of proteins, and the lack of vitamin D.

The best ratio between calcium and magnesium is 1: 0.6. This is the ratio of these two elements in sardines, black tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce, garlic, beans, pear, apple, grapes, and raspberries. The ratio of calcium and magnesium in low fat quark is 1:0.15, in the milk is 1: 0.1, while in the bread and the meat is about 1:2.

As well the best ratio of calcium and phosphorus should be 1: 1.5. Very close to this ratio is found in low fat quark, cucumber, garlic, grapes. In some products, such as cheese, milk, pork, beef or chicken meat ratio of calcium and phosphorus does not meet the needs of the body and therefore, in addition, these products need to be consumed in combinations such as bread with cheese, meat with vegetables etc.

Absorption of calcium hampers products rich in oxalic acid, and improves the presence of citric acid and lactose. The oxalic acid is found in spinach, beets, chocolate.

Notice: Calcium is lost by thermal processing of the products. For example, when boiling, vegetables lose about 25% of calcium and therefore the water should not be thrown. It can be used for delicious meals. That loss will be smaller.