Hint: Calcium is a mineral that is required for life to exist. Calcium not only strengthens and protects our bones, but also allows our blood to clot, our muscles to contract, and our heart to beat. Our bones and teeth contain 99 percent of the calcium in our bodies.
Calcium is best obtained from food. Calcium is abundant in dairy products such as milk, yogurt, and cheese. Calcium is found in small amounts in certain green vegetables and other foods. Calcium is added to some juices, breakfast foods, soymilk, cereals, snacks, bread, and bottled water. If you drink calcium-fortified soymilk or another calcium-fortified liquid, make sure to shake the container thoroughly.
Vitamin D primarily contributes to the Ca/P balance of body fluids. It increases calcium absorption from the intestines, which is required for the formation of healthy bones and teeth. Vitamin D deficiency increases the loss of calcium ions in urine, causing calcium ions to deposit in the bones. In children, this causes rickets, and in pregnant women, it causes osteomalacia.
Although true calcium deficiency is uncommon, dietary intakes of the nutrient below recommended levels may have long-term health consequences. The following groups are among the most likely to require additional calcium.
Note: Hypocalcemia, also known as a calcium deficiency disease, is characterized by low calcium levels in the blood. Long-term calcium deficiency can cause dental changes, cataracts, brain changes, and osteoporosis, which causes brittle bones. Early signs of calcium deficiency may be absent.