calcium plays an integral role in bone structure and serves as a reservoir of calcium for many functions. This mineral is known to help build bones and teeth as bones lose calcium as they age putting them at a high risk of osteoporosis and fractures.
So getting enough of this nutrient is important as your body cannot make it on its own.
Best sources of dietary calcium
The richest sources of calcium are milk and dairy products like labneh, cheese, laban and yogurt. Other sources that have calcium include spinach, okra, sardines and broccoli.
Absorption of dietary calcium from food
calcium absorption is affected by many factors including the ingested food source of calcium, vitamin D, age, the amount needed and the foods eaten at the same time with calcium-rich foods.
- The highest percentage of calcium absorption is from dairy products (30%) compared to other sources like green leafy vegetables (5%)
- calcium absorption increases with the presence of vitamin D, making fortified milk the best source of dietary calcium
- Children absorb a higher percentage of their ingested calcium than adults as their needs during growth spurts may be two to three times greater per body weight than adults. Keep in mind that the absorption of dietary calcium decreases with age
- Vitamin C and lactose enhance calcium absorption, whereas meals high in fat or protein may decrease calcium absorption and increase its excretion
Good to Remember
Milk drinkers get 80% more calcium in their diet compared to non-milk drinkers. So meet your daily calcium and vitamin D needs by drinking two glasses of Nestlé KLIM® Low Fat.
calcium from pills
calcium supplements are commonly used among women especially in their pre-menopausal phase in order to ensure they meet their daily calcium requirement. But a lot of young women resort to supplements when their calcium intake is poor.
Various calcium supplements are available when dietary intake is inadequate. Supplements may contain one of several different forms of calcium like calcium Carbonate or calcium Citrate.
Have you considered how well your body tolerates this kind of supplement? Does it cause any side effects? Do you take it as often as it is recommended each day? Is the cost within your budget?
Absorption of calcium from pills
calcium is absorbed best by the body when taken several times a day in amounts of 500mg or less. calcium carbonate is absorbed best when taken with food. For people willing to swallow two to three calcium pills a day, calcium carbonate is a sensible choice.
Be aware that calcium also interferes with iron absorption. So you should not take a calcium supplement at the same time as an iron supplement, unless the calcium supplement is calcium citrate which can be taken anytime.
For certain people, some calcium supplements may cause bloating or constipation.
What do the experts say?
Which form is best for our body - calcium from food or calcium from pills?
calcium in pills does not compensate for the calcium in foods!
The latest research shows that calcium in food plays a major role in protecting bones than supplemental calcium in pill form. People who take just dietary calcium or a combination of dietary calcium with supplements had better bone density than those who take supplements alone. So, to maintain healthy bones, you should not eliminate calcium-rich dairy products and go for pills alone, pills supplement your intake but do not replace it!