Calcium is needed by the body to maintain strong bones. This mineral assists blood vessels to move blood through the body, helps muscles move, and supports nerves to carry messages from the brain to the rest of the body. It is naturally occurring in many foods. Most calcium is stored in the bones and teeth.

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›  Health benefits

Bone health and osteoporosis
In order for bones to reach peak health, the body needs plenty of calcium throughout adolescence and childhood. After the age of 30, bones slowly begin to lose calcium, but a healthy diet and lifestyle can help. Osteoporosis can occur with age as bones become more fragile, porous and prone to fractures. Taking calcium supplements can help to strengthen bones, possibly lowering risk of breakage.

High blood pressure
Some studies have found that getting the recommended level of calcium can reduce the risk of having high blood pressure. Pregnant women are at risk of preeclampsia, the number-one cause of sickness or death in pregnant women and their newborns. Pregnant women who do not get enough calcium in their diets should take a calcium supplement, allowing for at least 1,000 milligrams of calcium a day, in order to lower the risk of preeclampsia.

›  How much do I need?

The recommended dosage depends on the person, as different age groups require a different amount of calcium in the body. Do not consume more than 500 milligrams of calcium at a time from supplements, as absorption is best at or below that dosage.

Calcium supplements can cause gas, bloating and constipation. If these occur, you can try spreading out the dosage over time, taking calcium with meals or changing the brand. Too much calcium can cause constipation and can interfere with the body’s ability to absorb iron and zinc. Calcium supplements can interact or interfere with certain medications, so it is best to consult with your doctor before using.

›  In food

Calcium can be found in many foods, such as dairy products, kale, broccoli, soft fishes (salmon, sardines) and grains.

›  Dietary supplements

Calcium in supplements can be found mainly in two forms: calcium carbonate and calcium citrate. It can also be found in gluconate, lactate and phosphate.

Source: National Institutes of Health, Office of Dietary Supplements

Please consult your health care provider before making changes to your vitamin/supplement regimen.

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