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Strong bones for a carefree life

 Strong bones for a carefree life

What is Calcium?

Calcium is an essential nutrient that influences every cell in the body. From your skeleton to your teeth, the body depends on calcium to carry out its many functions. Not only does calcium preserve bone density with the help of vitamin D and magnesium, it also allows nerves to send messages, assists in contracting muscles, including the heart. Calcium supports normal blood clotting and regulates blood pressure.

Importance of Vitamin D

Vitamin D and calcium work hand and hand. Vitamin D helps regulate calcium in the body by increasing the absorption of calcium (and phosphorus) from the small intestine, decreasing the amount of calcium and phosphorus loss in the body, and maintaining the appropriate levels of calcium and phosphorus in the bones.

Calcium is Essential at all stages of life

Strong bones for a carefree life 

Childhood and Adolescence

In childhood, calcium is required to build, develop and maintain bones. Bones continue growing until the age of 30, although the density of your bones and peak bone mass develop during the adolescent years. Obtaining enough calcium during childhood ensures a healthy reservoir of calcium for adulthood. Calcium requirements increase during adolescence due to accelerated muscle, bones and gland development. During peak growth spurts calcium is absorbed two times the normal rate in comparison to non-growth stages.  Strong bones for a carefree life

Adults

As we age intestinal absorption of calcium declines. Therefore, it is essential to ensure we have a calcium-rich diet and we are meeting our recommended daily intake. There are several nutrients that when combined with calcium-rich foods increase the absorption of calcium. These include Vitamin D, Vitamin C and lactose from milk. A calcium deficiency leads to the removal of calcium from the bones to be used in the body for its other functions, leading to weakening of the bones. In women, estrogen aids in the absorption of calcium so during menopause we need to ensure we are getting enough calcium in our diet.

Pregnancy and Lactation

Pregnancy and lactation increase the rate of calcium loss from the bones; therefore, increasing calcium needs for both mother and baby. Calcium builds strong bones and teeth in a baby and helps the mother minimize calcium loss from her bones.

Table 1: Dietary Reference Intakes of Calcium

Life Stage

Dietary Reference Intake (DRI)(mg/day)

Infants 0-6 months 210
7-12 months 270
Children 1-3 years 500
4-8 years 800
Adolescents 9-18 yrs 1300
Adults 19 – 50 years 1000
51-70+ years 1200
Pregnancy & Lactation 1300

 

Table 1: Dietary Reference Intakes of Calcium

>Food

Calcium (mg)

Milk 2%M.F. (250ml) 300
Yogourt, plain 2% M.F. (187.5ml) 320
Cheese, cheddar (50g) 360
Spinach, raw (250ml) 30
Broccoli, raw (125ml) 22

Ref: Health Canada DRI website 2007; Canadian Nutrient File database 2007b;