Calcium (Ca) is the most common 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 blood, muscle, and the fluid between cells (1).

Health Functions

Calcium is a major structural element in bones and teeth. Bone is a dynamic tissue that is 'remodeled' throughout life: some bone cells ('osteoclasts') break down bone and release the minerals ('bone resorption'), while other cells ('osteoblasts') produce new bone to replace the bone that was resorbed (1).

Disease Risk Reduction

Osteoporosis is a bone disorder affected by many factors. With it, bone strength is considerably reduced. Osteoporosis is most prevalent among white postmenopausal women (10).

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Things to know about Calcium

  • Other Applications

    An analysis of 23 large observational studies found a reduction in systolic blood pressure of 0.34 millimeters mercury (mm Hg) per 100 mg calcium consumed daily and a reduction in diastolic blood pressure of 0.15 mm Hg per 100 mg calcium (25).

  • Intake Recommendations

    In 1993, the European Scientific Committee for Food set population reference intakes (PRI) for calcium in milligrams (mg) per day (42).

  • Supply Situation

    According to nutrition surveys of five European countries, the average calcium intake is 884 mg/day for adult men, and 786 mg/day for women (43).

  • Deficiency

    A low blood calcium level usually implies abnormal function of the glands that produce parathyroid hormone (see Health Functions) responsible for regulating calcium levels.

  • Sources

    Dairy products such as milk, yogurt, cheddar cheese, and tofu, represent rich and absorbable sources of calcium.

  • Safety

    Abnormally elevated blood calcium ('hypercalcemia') has been reported only with the consumption of large quantities of calcium supplements (1.5 to 16.5 g/day), usually in combination with calcium carbonate ('antacids') and milk to treat open, painful wounds in the stomach ('peptic ulcers') (1).

  • References

    Consult the full list of scientific references.