Calcium is a mineral that is necessary for the development and maintenance of bones and teeth. It helps against osteoporosis later in life and is necessary for proper functioning of nerves and muscles, blood clotting and transport of other minerals in the body. Vitamin D is needed for the absorption of calcium in the body.
Calcium is mainly found in dairy products like milk, yoghurt, cottage cheese and cheese. Bread, vegetables, legumes and potatoes contain a smaller amount of calcium.
- Important for maintaining strong bones and teeth.
- Assists in normal blood clotting.
- Supports energy levels.
- Good for the muscles, including the heart muscle.
- Good for the nervous system. Calcium supports the transfer of impulses in the nerves.
- Supports digestion.
- Assists in the production of cells and tissues.
Due to a shortage of calcium in infants, muscle cramps may occur. In the elderly, too little calcium intake can lead to osteoporosis. When calcium, due to a shortage of vitamin D, is not absorbed sufficiently, osteomalacia (softening of bones) may occur. Other effects of a calcium shortage are delayed blood clotting and, in case of a serious shortage, muscle cramps.
An excess of calcium disrupts the absorption of iron, zinc, magnesium and phosphorus. There may also be kidney stone development and bone growth may be affected, causing bones to become weaker.
- The absorption of calcium in the body is influenced by several factors. Thus, adequate exercise and sufficient vitamin D ensure an increased uptake. Lack of exercise and insufficient vitamin D reduce the uptake. In addition, older people absorb calcium less well. In women, hormonal changes during menopause have a negative effect on the uptake of calcium. Alcohol also causes a reduced calcium uptake.
- Calcium was discovered in 1808 by the British chemist Humphry Davy.
- The term ‘calcium’ is derived from the Latin word calx (chalk) and the Greek word chalix (pebble stone).
- In the periodic table of elements, calcium has the symbol Ca and atomic number 20. The color is silvery-white.
- The body of an adult contains about 1 kilogram of calcium. 99% of this calcium is stored in the skeleton and teeth.