Minerals: Calcium

With over 1kg of calcium in our bodies, and 99% of that in our bones, the main role of this essential mineral is to keep our bones strong, but it takes part in many other functions too, helping to control the contraction of the heart and other muscles, the transmission of nerve impulses, regulating cholesterol levels and assisting in normal blood clotting. Calcium will only help strengthen the bones though if there is regular exercise, and other nutrients are also needed for calcium to do this work – Vitamin D, magnesium, boron and zinc to name just a few. As an example, if there is not enough magnesium the body will flush calcium to compensate – if magnesium levels go up, the body retains more calcium.


Some conditions such as coeliac disease, gluten intolerance or low stomach acid may reduce the absorption of calcium, and medications like diuretics, cortico-steroid drugs and the contraceptive pill can increase the need for calcium so we need to make sure we are getting enough and it is being absorbed. Milk is the best known dietary source of calcium, but for those who cannot tolerate milk, non dairy sources include sardines – with the bones – sesame seeds, almonds & brazil nuts, spinach and a variety of other leafy green vegetables. As always, a varied diet, not too high in sugars that increase the loss of calcium, is the key to obtaining this essential mineral. If choosing a supplement in tablet form, to get the best assimilation it is best if the tablet provides magnesium, vitamin D and boron as well as calcium.

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