Strong Bones for Healthy Aging

Why Calcium Is Good for Your Body

You probably know that calcium is good for you. But like many people, you may not be getting enough in your diet. One reason may be because milk isn’t your favorite beverage—whether you’re lactose intolerant or you just plain don’t like it. But there are lots of different ways to get the calcium you need, and you may be surprised how important it is for your health.


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You probably know that calcium is good for you. But in reality, youre probably murky on the details as to why its so important, and like many people, you may not be getting enough calcium in your diet.

One reason may be because milk isnt your favorite beverage—whether youre lactose intolerant or you just plain dont like it. But there are lots of different ways to get the calcium you need, and you may be surprised how important it is for your health.

Yes, calcium is key for the health of your bones and teeth, but it also affects your muscles, hormones, nerve function, and ability to form blood clots. Plus, research has suggested—although not yet confirmed—that calcium may help other problems like PMS, high blood pressure, and possibly weight gain.

Calcium 101
Calcium is the most common mineral found in the body and is required for the formation of bones and for bodily functions like muscle contractions and blood clotting.

Almost all the calcium in our bodies is stored in the bones and teeth. While bones feel rock hard, theyre actually living tissue that is constantly in flux; new bone is being created while old bone is destroyed.

When youre young, the process is skewed toward bone creation, and you have increasing bone density as you age, peaking at about age 30. After that, the process reaches equilibrium in adulthood. Then, as we age, the process can tip toward destruction, which can result in less dense, weaker bones.

So where does calcium come in? By having an adequate intake of calcium, youre giving your body the building blocks to fuel all its important functions, as well as to knit new bone tissue. If you dont get enough calcium, the body will “steal” calcium thats stored in bones to make sure it has enough to meet the bodys needs.

The recommended daily intake of calcium is 1,000 to 1,300 milligrams per day for people ages 9 and up.

But guess what? Some people fall short. A recent Institute of Medicine report found that, while the majority of people do get enough calcium, girls ages 9–18 are the exception.

In addition, a University of Maryland study found calcium intake to be too low for most people, particularly young women.

The study found the average consumption in girls ages 9 to 18 to be about 814 milligrams daily. While women between 40 and 59 years of age increased their consumption over time, intake in children 6 to 11 years old dropped.


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Tammy Worth
Last Updated: June 17, 2011

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