Most people equate calcium with bones, which is no surprise considering that the average person’s bones contain about three pounds of calcium. That’s about 99 percent of the body’s calcium supplies. From what we currently know about calcium, however, it may be involved with more bodily functions than any other mineral. It is involved in the health of our bones, muscles, and heart, as well as many of the body’s cellular processes.
While dairy products contain calcium, they are not typically the best source of calcium for most people. Even if you think you’re getting lots of calcium from dairy products, your body may not be digesting it adequately to extract sufficient calcium to meet its requirements. Although Americans and Canadians tend to consume the highest amount of dairy products in the world per capita, we have a higher incidence of osteoporosis than most other countries. We also suffer from many of the other calcium-deficiency symptoms. Of course, these symptoms can be signs of other problems in the body so you should always be examined by a physician if you are suffering from any health issues.
Common Signs of a Calcium Deficiency
Back or hip pain
Bone loss, malformed bones, or bones that are vulnerable to fractures or breaks
Brittle nails or vertical ridges on nails
Cramps in feet, toes, or legs
Dental cavities or frequent toothaches
High blood pressure
Nervousness, anxiety, or irritability
Nervous tics or twitches, or muscles that twitch
Women: painful or lengthy periods or excessive bleeding during periods
Food Sources of Highly-Absorbable Calcium
Highly usable sources of calcium include: almonds, almond butter, broccoli, carrot juice, carrots, dark leafy greens, kale, kelp, navy beans, oats, sesame seeds, sesame butter (tahini), soymilk and tofu (organic only since soy is heavily contaminated by genetically-modified organisms—GMOs), wild salmon and sardines.
Choosing a Calcium Supplement
Avoid calcium supplements that contain fillers, colors or chemicals. The manufacturer should be able to provide verification by a third-party laboratory that the supplements are free of lead—a metal that is frequently found in many calcium supplements.
A new study of over 9000 women from McGill University found that those women who took 1000 mg. calcium supplements lived longer than those who didn’t.
There are different forms of calcium such as carbonate, citrate, lactate, and gluconate. Calcium citrate and gluconate are usually better absorbed by most people. These forms can be taken at any time during the day but when taken a couple of hours before bed can often help improve sleep quality. Carbonate usually needs to be taken with food or immediately after food to enhance absorption. Ideally, calcium is best absorbed when taken along with magnesium.