Why Take Calcium Supplements

I am going to write about why take calcium supplements.

What’s so special about calcium?

You know that calcium is predominantly found in your bones and teeth. During your teenage years (from the onset of puberty to the second decade of life) the demand for calcium is markedly increased because of the rapid change in growth and body composition that takes place. The deposition of the total bone mineral between the age of 8 and 18 years is about 146 grams per year, with the greatest accumulation occurring during puberty.

Appropriate calcium intake is necessary in order to maximize peak bone density and to reduce the chance of fractures in teens and the development of osteoporosis in adults.

About 50% of total body calcium is deposited in our bones during puberty in females and 50% to 66% in males. At the end of puberty, males have almost 30% more of total body calcium than females.

Adequate dietary intake of calcium and weight-bearing physical activity during teen years help to significantly augment peak bone density.

Recommended dietary allowance (RDA)

The recommended dietary allowance for calcium is 1300mg for boys and girls 9 to 18 years of age. This recommended dietary allowance was set by the Food and Nutrition Board of the National Academy of Sciences which determined that the maximum positive calcium balance is attained at intakes between 1200mg and 1500mg per day based on the results of calcium balance studies. This guideline is set to meet the requirements of 95% of healthy children.

Exceedingly low calcium intake, such as less than approximately 600mg per day, might pose more major risks of insufficient mineralization.

You need to know that it’s important to teach families to be aware that the calcium content on food labels usually is expressed as a percentage of the “Daily Value” in each serving and this daily value was set at 1000mg per day. Because and ONLY the percent daily value and NOT total calcium intake is on the food label, it’s important to teach families about the daily value and how to understand it.

Children who adhere to strict vegetarian diets frequently have very low calcium intakes if they stay away from milk and dairy products. Calcium bioavailability from vegetables is generally high. Spinach is an exception which is high in oxalate making the calcium practically non-bioavailable.

Many calcium-fortified foods are available including soy cheese, soy yogurt, soy milk, calcium-enriched tofu, calcium-enriched cereals, and juices.

Consumption of dietary calcium and risk of calcium stones

Although augmented dietary calcium consumption may raise the concern of calcium stone risk, the opposite effect is noted, as the occurrence of stone development appears to be diminished in both men and women. Binding of dietary oxalate in the gastrointestinal tract, leading to diminution of oxalate absorption and excretion, may be responsible for this event.

Bone health

Studies reveal that weight-bearing physical exercise produces a remarkable benefit to skeletal growth. In one study important elements in accomplishing peak bone density were non-smoking status, maintenance of normal weight and physical exercise.

An excess of physical activity may interrupt menstruation and have a damaging effect on bone.

Consumption of carbonated beverages, especially colas, may lead to an increase in the risk of fractures among physically active children. The physiologic explanation for this is not clear although it may be more related to very low mineral content rather than an authentic effect of any colas.

Consumption of caffeine is associated with an increased renal excretion of calcium by the kidneys.

In studies of postmenopausal women, loss of bone mineral mass was associated with low calcium ingestion (<800mg per day), high caffeine intake (>300 to 450mg per day, about 2 to 3 cups of brewed coffee per day) and genetic predisposition.

Excessive weight loss and anorexia nervosa (a disorder characterized by severe caloric restriction despite extremely low body weight typically affecting young women) are associated with reduced bone density.

Calcium homeostasis

It is a role of dietary calcium intake, intestinal calcium absorption, skeletal formation and urinary excretion. During adolescence, augmented absorption and reduced excretion of calcium may partly, but not completely, compensate for low dietary consumption. The increase in calcium absorption during teenage years is thought to be caused by vitamin d3, also known as 1,25 dihydroxy vitamin D, the most active form of vitamin D. Vitamin D enrichment of calcium-containing foods stimulates intestinal absorption of calcium, whereas naturally existing oxalate and phytates (grains, beans, nuts, potatoes) diminish it.

The chief function of renal excretion of calcium is the maintenance of overall calcium balance, not serum calcium concentration, which is controlled by changes in bone resorption through the effects of parathyroid hormone and vitamin D.

Even though only a small amount of the total calcium and phosphate is located in the plasma, the serum concentrations of ionized calcium and inorganic phosphate are controlled predominantly by parathyroid hormone and vitamin D, both of which have an effect on intestinal absorption, bone formation and resorption and urinary excretion.


  • For children 9 to 18 years of age, RDA for calcium is 1300mg of calcium per day, ideally provided by calcium-rich or calcium enriched foods such as milk, Chinese cabbage flower leaves, Chinese mustard greens, yogurt, tofu with calcium, bok choy, cheddar cheese and cheese food. Care must be taken to make certain that diets with very low calcium intakes, such as less than 600mg per day are avoided.
  • Calcium supplements may be considered for children and teens who have very low intakes of dietary calcium. It is generally preferable to accomplish intake of calcium through diet, including calcium-fortified foods, because foods deliver multiple vitamins and minerals that are important for bone health including vitamin d3, magnesium, phosphorous and vitamin K2.
  • Consumption of adequate amount of vitamin D to enhance intestinal absorption of calcium is important.
  • Regular weight-bearing physical activity is recommended with the caveat that girls post-menarche (first occurrence of menstrual period) avoid excessive physical activity that may lead to amenorrhea (absence of menstrual period).
  • Avoid excessive consumption of cola drinks or non-calcium fortified sweetened drinks.
  • Don’t smoke cigarettes.

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