Calcium is the most vital nutrient required by the living beings. It’s a mineral found in major quantities in the body. It is very important for bone health. Around 99% of calcium in the body is found in bones and teeth. Humans need calcium for maintaining and building of healthy and strong bones. But apart from bone health, calcium is also required for other functions of the body like muscle function, nerve transmission, vascular contraction, hormonal secretion and cardiovascular functions. Calcium is majorly required for bone formation in growing children and adolescents, whereas it is required more in aging adults because of the process of breaking down of bones.

Benefits of Calcium

Calcium is very important for the growth, development and maintenance of bones. In the growing years of a child, calcium helps in the development of bones and once the person stops growing, it helps in maintaining the bones. And during the aging process when there is major bone density loss, calcium is required in huge amounts. Doctors may also recommend calcium supplements to post-menopausal women who are at a higher risk of bone density loss. It is also believed to regulate muscle contraction. The body releases calcium when a nerve stimulates muscle. The work of contraction is carried out by calcium that helps the protein in muscles. This mineral decreases intestinal absorption of lipids and increases lipid excretion which lowers cholesterol levels in the blood and reduces the risk of cardiovascular diseases. Consumption of adequate calcium during pregnancy also helps in lowering blood pressure levels.

Deficiency of Calcium

Hypocalcemia is a calcium deficiency disease which occurs when the body has low levels of calcium. Deficiency of calcium could have widespread negative effects on various parts of the body including bones, teeth, muscles and mental health. A person with calcium deficiency could experience muscle aches, spasms and pain in joints and thighs after moving or walking. It can also lead to fatigue, lack of energy and insomnia. Dry skin, broken or brittle nails, eczema or skin inflammation are also some issues caused by calcium deficiency. It could also cause alopecia, a condition in which a person’s hair falls out in patches.

The bones require high levels of calcium to stay strong. Over a period of time if the calcium levels remain low, it could lead to osteopenia, bone density loss. This could further lead to osteoporosis, where the person’s bones become too thin and prone to fractures. It’s deficiency may have an adverse effect on a person’s dental health causing problems like tooth decay, week tooth roots, brittle teeth and irritated gums. Mood disorders and depression could also be linked to calcium deficiency according to some research.

Recommended Daily Calcium Intake

The Food and Nutrition Board (FNB) has established recommended dietary allowance RDA for the amounts of calcium needed by a person to maintain healthy and strong bones.

Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDAs) for Calcium is as follows

Birth to 6 months200 mg200 mg
7–12 months260 mg260 mg
1–3 years700 mg700 mg
4–8 years1000 mg1000 mg
9–13 years1300 mg1300 mg
14–18 years1300 mg1300 mg1300 mg1300 mg
19–50 years1000 mg1000 mg1000 mg1000 mg
51-70 years1000 mg1000 mg
71+ years1200 mg1200 mg
SOURCE : [1]

Calcium Rich Foods

There are a lot of food items that could help us with our daily calcium intake. Below is a list of few such food items.

1Fennel seeds

Fennel is a perennial herb. Its seeds have a thin, long shape and are brown or pale green in color. They give a sweet scent to curries, desserts, breads and beverages and also have a sweet liquorice like taste. People chew plain fennel seeds after a meal in some parts of the world, mostly India as it helps aid digestion and prevent gas. These seeds are rich in fiber, potassium, magnesium and calcium and also have antibacterial, antifungal and anti-inflammatory properties. It can be an ideal choice for vegans. They help improve digestion and also relax muscle in the intestines. They soothe irritation in the intestine and also relieve constipation. It may also protect against certain chronic diseases and cancer with the help of some powerful active plant compounds present in it.

  • Per 100g of fennel seeds have 1196mg calcium. [2]