What does it do?
Calcium is an essential mineral that plays a vital role in preserving sturdy bones and teeth, regulating muscle movements, transmitting nerve signals, and facilitating the release of important hormones and enzymes. It is primarily stored in the teeth and bones, providing structure and strength.

How much?
The recommended daily intake for men 19-70 years old and women 19 – the onset of menopause is 1000mg. Men over 70 and post-menopausal women have increased needs of 1300mg per day. Calcium can be obtained from various sources and should be consumed ideally through food. If you need to take a supplement, it should be in accordance with your overall intake from your diet and only used as a top-up to reach your recommended daily intake.

You can supplement any time of the day, preferably with food to aid absorption.

The overall diet largely influences the absorption of calcium. Diets high in fermentable fibres (usually found in oats, legumes, fruits and vegetables) have enough bulk and fibre to slow the rate of food passage through the intestines and increase calcium absorption. In contrast, taking a calcium supplement on top of a low-fibre diet will not be as effective as getting calcium from food sources.

It also mitigates the risk of developing osteoporosis in older age.

Inflammatory arthritis conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and some medications used in treating these conditions can increase your risk of developing osteoporosis. Having osteoarthritis doesn’t increase the risk. NZ adults’ average intake is about 850 mg daily, so make sure you include calcium-rich foods in your diet.

The upper level of calcium intake for everyone is 2500mg per day. Too much calcium can interfere with mineral absorption like iron and zinc, cause constipation, and cause kidney problems. Calcium supplements have also been linked to cardiac issues.

Calcium supplements aren’t for everyone, so you should consult your doctor before supplementing.

Who might need to supplement?
Those on a plant-based diet or who don’t consume dairy can design their diet in a way that enables them to get the amount they need or, if not, may need to take a supplement. If you think you might need to take a calcium supplement, talk to your doctor first.

Where to find it
Food sources: Dairy and dairy products, bony fish, legumes, certain nuts (almonds), soy products, sesame seeds, whole grains, dark leafy greens, fortified plant milk beverages and breakfast cereals.

You can buy supplements from pharmacies, health stores, supermarkets and online, or get a prescription from your doctor.

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