Calcium is one of the minerals our body needs the most. It is mainly found in the bones and teeth.
This mineral’s main function concerns bone mass, i.e., the formation of bones and teeth. It is also essential for coagulation, muscle contraction and transmission of nerve impulses.
An adequate intake of vitamin D is important for the correct absorption and use of this mineral.
Calcium is essential at every age and stage of life. However, the requirements vary, according to the body’s growth stage. Therefore, infancy is the stage of life in which the requirements are higher. There is a decrease in requirements until adulthood. When calcium intake is lower than the requirements, bones become fragile, increasing the risk of fractures.
The dietary reference intake of calcium for adults is, 1000mg, on average.
Despite the fact that dairy products are the main sources of this mineral, it can also be obtained from other foods such as dark green leafy vegetables (e.g. broccoli, watercress, spinach, cabbage), dried fruits (e.g. figs), calcium-enriched soy products, and legumes.
It is important to remember that calcium from milk and dairy products is more easily absorbed by the body, i.e. it has a higher bioavailability, when compared with calcium from other foods such as dark green leafy vegetables.