Calcium: where to find it in the diet?

Calcium is the most abundant mineral in the human body, every day we must ensure a good calcium intake through food. Known for its role in bone mineralization, calcium is just as important for the nervous system and blood clotting. The needs of a healthy adult are 900 mg per day.

Characteristics of calcium:

  • Essential mineral for the mineralization of bone and teeth
  • Vitamin D allows its fixation on the bones
  • Found in dairy products, tofu and some drinking waters
  • Calcium deficiency is a risk factor for osteoporosis and fractures
  • The needs are increased in adolescents, the elderly and pregnant women

Why eat calcium-rich foods?


Bone mineralization

Calcium is involved in the mineralization of bone tissue and teeth. It ensures the strength and rigidity of bones and tooth enamel. More than 99% of the calcium is thus housed in the bone. At any stage of life, calcium has an important role: in children it allows bone growth, in adults the maintenance of bone capital and the prevention of osteoporosis and fractures in the elderly.

Muscle contraction

Calcium intervenes at the level of neuromuscular excitability and allows the muscle to contract. It is also necessary for the relaxation of the muscle after contraction and for the proper functioning of the heart muscle.

Coagulation sanguine

This mineral allows blood to clot and tissues to heal properly.

brain function

Essential for neuromuscular excitability, it intervenes at the level of the conduction of nerve impulses. It also plays an antidepressant role and promotes sleep.

Foods sources of calcium

It is important to include enough calcium-containing foods in the diet to cover the body’s needs and avoid a deficiency. Calcium is mainly found in cheese, tofu-derived products and dairy products.

Firm tofu made with calcium sulfate                                   100 g683 mg
Cheeses: gruyere and parmesan50 g506-592 mg
Cheeses: emmental, cheddar, edam, gouda, provolone, roquefort, swiss50 g331-396 mg
Fortified soy beverage250 ml (1 cup)320-370 mg
Canned sardines with bones100 g (8 medium)382 mg
Ricotta cheese, partly skimmed milk125 ml (1/2 cup)                 356 mg
Regular tofu prepared with calcium salt100 g350 mg
Goat’s milk250 ml (1 cup)345 mg
Cow’s milk, 0%-3.25% fat250 ml (1 cup)291-333 mg
Plain yogurt, 0%-3.25% fat175 ml253-332 mg
Fortified rice drink250 ml (1 cup)319 mg
Cheeses: camembert, blue, feta, mozzarella50 g194-288 mg
Canned salmon with bones100 g239-277 mg
Cooked black cowpea beans250 ml (1 cup)223 mg
Cooked white beans250 ml (1 cup)170 g
Orange juice, fortified with calcium125 ml (1/2 cup)                 155 mg
Boiled collard greens125 ml (1/2 cup)                 141 g
Atlantic perch, grilled100 g137 mg
Tofu prepared with magnesium salt100 g135 mg
Boiled spinach125 ml (1/2 cup)                 129 mg

Calcium-rich waters

Beyond food, certain drinking waters particularly rich in calcium can help cover the body’s needs. Water is said to be rich in calcium if it contains more than 120 mg of calcium per litre. Among the calcium-rich waters we find:

  • hepatic
  • Courmayeur
  • counterx
  • Salvetat
  • Quézac
See also  Water, an essential element for our body

How to properly use calcium?

Use of calcium

Daily calcium requirements

 Recommended Dietary Intake (ANC)                               
Babies 0-6 months                                             200 mg
Babies 7-12 months260 mg
Babies 1-3 years old500 mg
Children 4-6 years old700 mg
Children 7-9 years old900 mg
Children 10-12 years old1 200 mg
Teenagers 13-15 years old1 200 mg
Teenagers 16-19 years old1 200 mg
Men 19-60 years old900 mg
Women 19-60 years old900 mg
Men 60+1 200 mg
Women 60 and over1 200 mg
Pregnant women1 000 mg
Nursing women1 000 mg

Calcium-based food supplements

In food supplements, calcium is often associated with other nutrients such as vitamin D or phosphorus. These supplements are often indicated for the maintenance of bone capital and during growth. The dosage varies according to age, problem and context. Ask your doctor for advice.

Adverse effects of calcium

Consequences and symptoms of a lack of calcium

In the event of a deficit in calcium intake, the calcemia (calcium level in the blood) is self-regulated by drawing the necessary calcium directly from the bone tissue. In the long term, the symptoms of a lack of calcium are therefore bone: rickets, osteoporosis, increased risk of fracture, etc. Deficiency in this mineral can also cause thyroid disorders (hyperparathyroidism) if it is associated with a lack of vitamin D intake.

Consequences of too high a level of calcium in the blood

Hypercalcaemia, or too much calcium in the blood, can lead to hypercalciuria (increased calcium levels in the urine) and the formation of kidney stones and calcium deposits in the urinary tract and kidneys. Calcium intake should never exceed 2 g per day.

Interactions with other nutrients

Some factors disrupt the proper assimilation of calcium or increase its elimination through the urine. This is the case of the phytates present in the envelope of whole cereals, salt and proteins. Excess calcium can also disrupt the assimilation of other nutrients such as magnesium, zinc or even iron. Finally, a good supply of vitamin D is essential to allow the fixation of calcium in the bone tissue.

Chemical properties

The symbol for calcium is Ca, its atomic number is 20. It is an earthy metal with a light gray to white color. The atomic molar mass of calcium is 40.078 u. It is the fifth most abundant mineral in the earth’s crust and the first in the human body.

Calcium carbonate is made up of carbonate ions and calcium. It is the constituent of chalk, marble and the shells of certain animals.

Calcium chloride is a calcium salt particularly recognized for its exothermic properties. It is he who is used in cement, to clear snow from roads or to make refrigerators.

Calcium hydroxide consists of calcium and hydroxyl, it is the major constituent of lime water and milk of lime

Finally, calcium sulphate comes in the form of a white powder that swells in water. in food, it is the E516 additive used for its firming and stabilizing properties.

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Nutrient history

Calcium has been used in lime preparations by the Romans since the 1st century. It was not until 1800 that calcium was discovered and identified as a mineral in its own right. It is H. Davy who will be the first to isolate it. From that moment on, calcium has been the subject of thousands of studies and has become a focus of interest for many scientific fields.

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