What is in this article?:
- Bone up on calcium
Each of us carries around 2 to 3 pounds of calcium, the body's most abundant mineral. Take this quiz to find out why calcium is essential to our health.
- True. Calcium is required for blood clotting, transmission of signals in nerve cells, and proper muscle contraction.
- True, just slightly. Calcium needs change during one’s lifetime; according to the National Institutes of Health (1994), recommended calcium intake is 1,200 mg to 1,500 mg for pregnant or lactating women and 1,500 mg for men and women over 65.
- False. It’s vitamin D that’s key to calcium absorption, allowing calcium to leave the intestine and enter the bloodstream. Vitamin D also works in the kidneys to help reabsorb calcium that would otherwise be excreted.
A 2003 study published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition found that calcium supplements plus vitamin D may increase calcium absorption by up to 65 percent.
- True. Although plain, low-fat yogurt tops the calcium content list at 415 mg per cup, many nondairy foods are high in calcium. Calcium-fortified orange juice provides 308 mg to 344 mg. Fish with soft, edible bones, such as canned salmon and sardines, provides between 205 mg and 270 mg per 3-ounce serving. Raw or lightly steamed broccoli, the queen of vegetables, has approximately 90 mg of calcium per cup. Other calcium-containing green veggies, such as spinach and Swiss chard, are not good sources because they also contain oxalates, which hinder calcium absorption.