Most of the body’s calcium is stored in the bones and teeth, where it is instrumental in keeping them strong. The small amount of calcium circulating in the bloodstream helps to produce the hormones and enzymes that regulate energy release, digestion and metabolism. Calcium also facilitates the movement of nutrients across cell membranes. In addition, this mineral helps nerve cells to communicate normally, aids muscle contraction and promotes blood clotting. To perform these essential functions, the body simply takes as much calcium as it needs from the bones. Unfortunately, if there’s too little calcium in your diet to replenish this supply, your bones will eventually suffer, and become porous, weak and prone to breaking.
Calcium is often taken in supplement form in combination with Vitamin D and magnesium. The body actually makes Vitamin D when the skin is exposed to sunlight; Vitamin D is also readily available in supplements.
Between 200 and 400 IU of Vitamin D are needed daily to ensure that calcium will be properly absorbed and used. To help improve absorption, calcium should always be taken with food. Avoid calcium supplements made from bone meal, oyster shells, or dolomite; they may contain high levels of lead. People over age 65 are advised to use calcium citrate, because they may not have enough stomach acid to absorb calcium carbonate.
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This article is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.