While calcium is probably the most discussed of all the minerals, most people still don’t know a lot about this essential life-supporting mineral. Here are 8 things you need to know about calcium.
1. Calcium Makes a Superb Partner—Calcium is not usually found in its pure form in nature. Its molecular structure causes it to connect with other elements. That is why you will find it in forms with other natural elements, including: calcium carbonate, calcium citrate, and calcium sulfate.
2. It Can Bind with Unwelcome Partners—Because of its naturally adhesive qualities, some calcium is vulnerable to being bound with lead if the two elements appear together in nature. That means it is important to check any supplement sources of calcium you may be taking to ensure they are free of lead (as demonstrated by third-party laboratory testing that the manufacturer should provide).
3. Calcium and Phosphorus Don’t Play Well Together—While some phosphorus is needed for calcium absorption, when there is an excessive amount of phosphorus in the diet, calcium is not properly absorbed. Most people’s diets contain excessive phosphorus in the form of soda and animal protein. That doesn’t mean we should pop more calcium supplements; it means we should cut back on phosphorus intake.
4. The More You Sleep The More You Lose—We lose more calcium while we sleep than we do during waking hours. Of course, that doesn’t mean that you should reduce your sleep since sleep deprivation can cause other issues. Eating a high calcium breakfast or taking your calcium supplements at breakfast can help restore the nighttime losses.
5. Take Your Calcium in Smaller Doses—While many health professionals still recommend taking high doses of calcium in a single dose, most experts now realize that the body absorbs about 500 mg at a time. That means it is better to take your calcium supplements in two or three daily doses.
6. Women Need More than Men—Women tend to have higher calcium needs than men. And, postmenopausal women tend to have the highest needs. The daily recommended dose for most men is about 800 mg daily, for premenopausal women that amount climbs to 1000 mg, and for postmenopausal women the recommended dose is about 1500 mg.
7. Got Kale?—While dairy marketing boards still tout milk and dairy products as the best sources of calcium, as far back as 25 years ago, research showed that calcium is absorbed better when it is obtained from plant-based sources. While oxalates found in some vegetables like spinach and chard can interfere with calcium absorption, low oxalate vegetables like kale and broccoli tend to have extremely high absorption rates. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition study found that calcium from kale was absorbed at a rate of 40.9%, while the calcium from milk was absorbed at a rate of only 32.1%. Plus, dairy products tend to be high in phosphorus which can cause calcium loss from bones. The herb nettles, which comes up in the spring, is a lesser-known but excellent source of calcium. For more information about nettles check out my article, “The Allergy Remedy in Your Yard.”
8. Calcium’s Not Just a One Trick Pony—While we tend to think of bones when we consider calcium, the reality is that calcium is essential for great health throughout your body. It is needed for healthy nerve and brain cell transmission, proper functioning of muscles, balancing the constriction and expansion of blood vessels, releasing and stabilizing insulin to balance blood sugar levels, and so much more. Calcium affects the proper functioning of your whole body.