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How much calcium do I need?

Calcium is a big health topic especially when it comes to women and children’s health.

99% of the body’s calcium is in the bones and teeth.  The other 1% of calcium circulates in the body fluids and is part of regulating muscle contraction, blood clotting, transmission of nerve impulses, secretion of hormones and activation of some enzymes.

The players in calcium balance in the body are vitamin D, vitamin K2, magnesium and phosphorus.

  • Vitamin D “the sunshine vitamin”

Our bodies will make vitamin D with sun exposure, the liver and kidneys will work together to make the active form of vitamin D.  (The drawback is that if you are above the 37th parallel you won’t get the exposure you need to make enough). Vitamin D3 is responsible for improving the absorption of calcium we take in to our bodies.

Image Source – www.backdoc.ca
  • Vitamin K2the new vitamin on the block” Recent research has uncovered that vitamin K2 supports the bone building activity and suppresses the bone breakdown at the cellular level.
  • Magnesium “the activator” This mineral is responsible for activating many pathways within the body including the conversion of vitamin D2 to D3(active form).  In addition magnesium also assists in regulation the absorption of calcium in the body. That being said you can’t have one without the other too much calcium will result in a magnesium loss, and vice versa. 
  • Phosphorus “the supporter” The second most abundant mineral in the body after calcium it helps to play a structural role with teeth and the bones.
Now that all the players are outlined it’s important to realize that there is more involved in calcium status then meets the eye.
General calcium recommendations according to Health Canada includes:
Age group Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) per day Tolerable Upper Intake Level (UL) per day
Infants 0-6 months 200 mg  1000 mg
Infants 7-12 months 260 mg  1500 mg
Children 1-3 years 700 mg 2500 mg
Children 4-8 years 1000 mg 2500 mg
Children 9-18 years 1300 mg 3000 mg
Adults 19-50 years 1000 mg 2500 mg
Adults 51-70 years
Men
Women
1000 mg
1200 mg
2000 mg
2000 mg
Adults > 70 years 1200 mg 2000 mg
Pregnancy & Lactation
14-18 years
19-50 years
1300 mg
1000 mg
3000 mg
2500 mg
Next blog will focus on ensuring calcium intake on a dairy free diet.

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