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Nutrition Resources

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Calcium


Nutrient description/background:
  • The most abundant mineral in the human body;
  • More than 99% of total body calcium is stored in the bones and teeth;
  • The remaining 1% is found throughout the body in the blood, muscles and fluid between cells.

Nutrient function:
  • Helps support heart muscles and nerves;
  • Builds and keeps bones strong;
  • Needed for muscle contraction;
  • Required for blood vessel constriction and expansion;
  • Needed for secretion of hormones and enzymes;
  • Aids in blood clotting;
  • Needed for sending messages through the nervous system.

DRI/RDA:
  • 0-6 months: 210 milligrams per day (mg/day);
  • 7-12 months: 270 mg/day;
  • 1-3 years: 500 mg/day;
  • 4-8 years: 800 mg/day;
  • 9-18years: 1300 mg/day;
  • 19-50 years: 1000 mg/day;
  • >51 years: 1200.

Food sources:
  • Dairy products, such as milk, cottage cheese, cheese and yogurt;
  • Pinto, red and white beans;
  • Tofu;
  • Chinese cabbage, kale, broccoli, spinach and rhubarb;
  • Calcium fortified foods, such as orange juice.

Indications/Health claims:
  • Increasing calcium intake from dairy products, not supplements, may increase weight reduction;
  • May help prevent and/or treat symptoms of moderate hypertension;
  • High calcium intake helps reduce the risk of osteoporosis and may reduce symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS) in women.

Evidence for or against claims:
  • According to the Cochrane evidence base, trials conducted on calcium's effect on hypertension were of poor quality. A longer and better quality trial must be done to demonstrate calcium's effect on lowering blood pressure;
  • According to Cochrane musculoskeletal trials, calcium, accompanied with vitamin D, showed a significant prevention of bone loss;
  • Low dietary intakes have been linked to PMS in several studies and calcium supplementation has been shown to decrease symptom severity.