Target Health Blog


September 17, 2018


A calcium channel embedded in a cell membrane - Wikipedia Public Domain - This work is free and may be used by anyone for any purpose.

Calcium is the most abundant mineral in the body, present mainly in the bones and teeth. It is an essential dietary element required in optimal amounts for good bone health, efficient nerve and muscle function, and overall cardiovascular health. It makes up about three percent of the earth's crust and is a basic component of most animals and plants. Our bones serve as a storage site for the body's calcium, providing this mineral to the bloodstream for use by the heart and other organs. Eating a diet rich in calcium helps to restore it to the bones; supplements can help as well.

Calcium is known mostly for its role in building and maintaining strong bones and teeth, but it is also required for proper functioning of the heart, muscles and nervous system. It plays a role in maintaining normal blood pressure, regulating blood clotting, and preventing cancers of the digestive tract. It is also associated with relieving mood swings, food cravings, and decreasing the pain, tenderness and bloating associated with premenstrual syndrome (PMS).

Calcium deficiency symptoms (also known as hypocalcemia) range from minor - numbness or tingling of the 1) ___, muscle cramps, lethargy and poor appetite - to more severe, including mental confusion, skeletal malformations, dermatitis, and in infants, delayed development. Illnesses such as osteoporosis (brittle, thin, porous bones that easily break) and rickets are also associated with a deficiency. If vitamin D levels are optimal, most adults should be able to meet their daily calcium needs via a varied 2) ___ that includes a wide variety of calcium-rich foods. When individuals are unable to get enough calcium through a diet of calcium-rich foods, or for those who may need more than the recommended daily allowance, supplements can help. Dr. Andrew Weil recommends women supplement with 500 to 700 mg of calcium citrate in two divided doses taken with meals for a total of 1,000-1,200 mg a day from all sources (including diet); for men Dr. Andrew Weil recommends not using 3) ___ supplements at all (except on the advice of a physician), but instead getting 500-600 mg per day through diet. Dr. Weil suggests supplementing with calcium citrate, which is more easily absorbed than other forms, taken with half the dosage amount of magnesium. For seniors, other physicians recommend higher levels of a supplement.

According to the NIH, the normal daily recommended intake for children is as follows: infants through three years of age is 400-800 mg; children between 4 and 10 years of age is 800 mg; adolescent males is 800-1,200 mg; and adolescent females is 800-1,200 mg daily. An abundant source of this mineral in the American diet is dairy products - two glasses of 4) ___ per day provide 1,000-1,200 mg. If you choose to get your calcium via dairy products - and this is not essential, as there are many other calcium-rich foods - make sure you use only hormone-free, organic dairy products to reduce your exposure to the antibiotics and hormones found in many dairy products. Non-dairy foods rich in calcium include: greens such as collards, mustard, kale, broccoli, bok choy; canned salmon (with 5) ___) and sardines; tofu that has been coagulated with a calcium compound; calcium-fortified soy milk, fruit juice and cereals; blackstrap molasses. Calcium supplements can be constipating, and should be balanced with magnesium. Excessive amounts in the 6) ___ may have negative effects, including nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, and increased urination. More serious complications include kidney toxicity, confusion, and irregular heart rhythm. Studies indicate that men who take too much may have an increased risk of prostate cancer, and should limit their dietary intake to 500-600 mg daily from all sources.

Vitamin D is key to absorbing and using calcium, so make sure to get adequate intake of vitamin D. Older people often are 7) ___ in vitamin D, and should have this checked at annual checkups. Do not use bone meal or dolomite as a source. The Food and Drug Administration has issued warnings that bone meal and dolomite could be dangerous because these products may contain 8) ___lead. It is especially important that pregnant women receive enough calcium, magnesium and vitamin D and that they continue to receive the right amount throughout pregnancy, as well as during breast feeding. Older people may need to take extra calcium or larger doses because they do not absorb it as well as younger people.

At 3%, calcium is the fifth most abundant element in the 9) ___ crust, and the third most abundant metal behind aluminum and iron. It is also the fourth most abundant element in the lunar highlands. Sedimentary calcium carbonate deposits pervade the Earth's surface as fossilized remains of past marine life; they occur in two forms, the rhombohedral calcite (more common) and the orthorhombic aragonite (forming in more temperate seas). Minerals of the first type include limestone, dolomite, marble, chalk, and Iceland spar; aragonite beds make up the Bahamas, the Florida Keys, and the Red Sea basins. Corals, sea shells, and pearls are mostly made up of calcium carbonate. Among the other important minerals of calcium are gypsum (CaSO4-2H2O), anhydrite (CaSO4), fluorite (CaF2), and apatite ([Ca5(PO4)3F]).

The major producer of calcium is 10) ___ (about 10,000 to 12,000 tons per year), Russia is next (about 6,000 to 8,000 tons per year), and the United States is the third largest producer, (about 2,000 to 4,000 tons per year). Canada and France are also among the minor producers. In 2005, about 24,000 tons of calcium were produced; about half of the world's extracted calcium is used by the United States, with about 80% of the output used each year. In Russia and China, Davy's method of electrolysis is still used, but is instead applied to molten calcium chloride. Since calcium is less reactive than strontium or barium, the oxide-nitride coating that results in air is stable and lathe machining and other standard metallurgical techniques are suitable for calcium. In the United States and Canada, calcium is instead produced by reducing lime with aluminum at high temperatures. Sources:;; Wikipedia;

ANSWERS: 1) fingers; 2) diet; 3) calcium; 4) milk; 5) bones; 6) blood; 7) deficient; 8) lead; 9) Earth's; 10) China

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