Calcium: sources, benefits, foods

What are the benefits of calcium?

This mineral is essential for building and maintaining strong bones and teeth. 99% of calcium reserves are thus stored in the skeleton which allows mobility of the body and protects vital organs.

The remaining 1% of non-bone calcium is essential for basic cellular functioning and is involved in many functions:

  • blood coagulation,
  • muscle contraction,
  • nerve conduction …

This concentration of circulating calcium must remain stable. Other, when food intake is insufficient, the body is forced to draw on bone reserves, which can lead to progressive demineralization of the skeleton.

What are our daily calcium needs?

They were recently revised downwards and are now 950 mg per day for an adult over 24 years old. These reference intakes are easily reached with a varied and balanced diet, containing 2 dairy products per day.

Which foods are the richest in calcium?

Calcium is found mainly -and in large quantities- in dairy products and canned small fish whose bones are eaten (sardines).

It is also found in the plant world, but either in much lower concentrations (30 g of cheese contains as much as 600 g of green vegetables), or in foods which are consumed in small quantities (seeds, etc.).

Source: CIQUAL food table © Santé Magazine

Which cheeses are the richest in calcium?

The most calcium-rich cheeses are the hard ones (Parmesan, Emmental, Gruyère, Comté). Why ? Because they have a reduced water content, and in fact all the other components are more concentrated. Rich in calcium, however, these cheeses are the richest in fat. Beware of excess!

Is calcium assimilated in the same way depending on its origin?

Yes. Animal or plant, liquid (water, milk) or solid (food), calcium is well assimilated.

On the other hand, that of food supplements does not have the same effectiveness, because it does not stimulate the secretion of parathyroid hormone, a hormone that promotes the absorption of calcium in the intestine, as much as the calcium from food.

The absorption of calcium is also favored by vitamin D: opting for fortified dairy products can therefore be a good reflex. This enrichment is also systematic in many countries.

How to do when you do not consume dairy products?

Unless they are fortified, vegetable juices (soy, oats, etc.) do not contain calcium. It is then necessary to drink a calcic mineral water of the Hepar, Contrex or Courmayeur type (0.5 l = 300 mg of calcium), to integrate seeds and oilseeds in its diet, to consume good quantities of green vegetables every day and to regularly provide sardines. canned.

Hypercalcemia: what are the consequences of an excess of calcium?

Lack of calcium can have serious health consequences. But a high level of calcium (greater than 2.60 mmol / l) can also cause bone, digestive (constipation, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain) and kidney problems. This often results in loss of appetite, increased thirst, and increased urine output (excretion of urine).

Usually identified in routine blood tests, hypercalcemia is often asymptomatic. It can be due to a parathyroid problem (blood disease, bone metastasis), but also to diet, cancer or bone disorders.

In the most serious cases, thehypercalcémie can cause brain disorders (delirium, hallucinations), emotional turmoilor even a coma.

How to decrease the level of calcium in the blood?

To drink a lot of water (to increase the amount of urine) and regular physical exercise can help decrease calcium levels in the blood. Diuretic drugs can also increase the excretion of calcium.

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