Calcium is a mineral that the body needs for numerous functions, including building and maintaining bones and teeth, blood clotting, the transmission of nerve impulses, and the regulation of the heart rhythm.
Ninety-nine percent of the calcium in the human body is stored in the bones and teeth. The remaining 1 percent is found in the blood and other tissues.
The body needs calcium to maintain strong bones and to carry out many important functions.
Calcium is stored in bones and teeth, where it supports their structure and hardness.
The body also needs calcium for muscles to move and for nerves to carry messages between the brain and every body part. In addition, calcium is used to help blood vessels move blood throughout the body and to help release hormones and enzymes that affect almost every function in the human body, sending messages through the nervous system.
What foods provide calcium?
It is important to get plenty of calcium from food. Food rich in calcium include, for example:
- Dairy products such as cheese and yogurt
- Leafy, green vegetables
- Fish with soft bones that you eat, such as canned sardines and salmon
- Calcium-enriched foods such as breakfast cereals
- Fruit juice, soy and rice drinks.
The exact amount of calcium you need depends on your age and other factors. Growing children and teenagers need more calcium than young adults. Also, mature women need plenty of calcium to prevent osteoporosis.
Over the long term, intakes of calcium below recommended levels have health consequences, such as causing low bone mass (osteopenia) and increasing the risks of osteoporosis and bone fractures.