We tend to think of calcium as a crucial nutrient for bone health, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg for this essential mineral
Calcium Myths and Facts This essential mineral does a lot more than just support bone health.
Calcium is important for bone health, but it’s also essential for the heart, nerves, hormones, arteries, and muscles to work properly. Yet it’s estimated that only 3 in 10 Americans consume the recommended 1,000– 1,300 mg of calcium daily, and myths and confusion persist.
Taking extra calcium will ensure strong bones Calcium is certainly essential for bone health, but by itself, it doesn’t guarantee that bones will stay strong throughout life. A British Medical Journal analysis of 59 studies that followed more than 13,000 people over age 50 found that adequate calcium, from either food or supplements, increased bone mineral density by up to 1.8 percent in a year; however, that wasn’t enough to prevent fractures. Strong bones also require a whole- foods diet, regular exercise, and supporting nutrients.
When elderly people are defi cient in calcium and vitamin D, taking both supplements can signifi cantly improve the condition of their bones. A study of 3,800 women with an average age of 84 found that daily supplements providing 1,200 mg of calcium and 800 IU of vitamin D reduced risk of hip fractures by 23 percent.
These are key nutrients that enable calcium to fully do its job:
Vitamin D is required to enable proper calcium absorption. Magnesium helps prevent bones from becoming brittle and fragile. Vitamin K helps ensure that calcium is utilized in bones rather than deposited in arteries or kidneys. Potassium from fruits and vegetables— at least as much as the daily sodium intake— prevents excess sodium buildup, which leads to calcium excretion.