CALCIUM is an essential mineral found in large amounts in the body with 99% of all the calcium in the body found in the bones and teeth, with the remaining one percent being found in the blood. First and foremost, calcium is an important bone mineral. Calcium also plays important roles in nerve conduction, muscle contraction, and blood clotting.Calcium is lost daily in the urine, sweat and faeces. If calcium levels in the blood drop below normal, calcium will be taken from bone and put into the blood in order to maintain blood calcium levels. It is therefore vital to consume enough calcium to maintain adequate calcium levels.BUT HOW MUCH IS ENOUGH?Strong evidence exists that a calcium intake of below 500 mg per day leads to accelerated bone loss which can cause osteoporosis and subsequent fractures.The National Osteoporosis Foundation of South Africa (NOFSA) recommends an average daily intake of approximately 1 000 mg, although calcium requirements differ in the different age groups.Children and teenagers between the ages of nine and 18, for example, should be getting 1 300 mg calcium, while women over the age of 51 should be getting 1 200 mg calcium. There are also certain groups of people who are at an increased risk of calcium deficiency, such as postmenopausal women and people with lactose intolerance or cow’s milk allergy. RICH SOURCES OF CALCIUM:• Cheese (aged and processed) and cheese spreads — 40 g serving = 260 mg calcium • Cheese (unripened) such as cottage cheese, ricotta, feta — 150 g serving = 300 mg calcium• Milk: fresh, UHT, sterilised, milk powder (reconstituted), commercial flavoured, goat milk — 250 ml serving size = 300 mg calcium • Soya beverages — 250 ml serving size = 300 mg calcium• Yoghurt: plain, fruit yoghurt, drinking yoghurt, buttermilk, maas — 150 g serving size = 243 mg calciumOther sources of calcium include fish such as sardines in oil, drained pink salmon, canned mackerel with bones, canned drained shrimp — 100 g = 382 calcium.Non-dairy sources of calcium include some vegetables, such as Chinese cabbage, kale, and broccoli. A day’s nutrition which includes 40 g of cheese, a cup of milk, 150 g of yogurt and 100 g of tinned pink salmon will give you approximately 1 185 mg of calcium.HOW DO WE ACHIEVE THIS DAILY?Most people can easily get at least half of the calcium they need from food. Taking an appropriate calcium supplement is also a great way to increase your calcium intake as the right supplement will contain relatively large amounts of elemental calcium, and dissolves well in the body.B-Cal is South Africa’s number one prescribed calcium range and consists of five different products, allowing your specialist or pharmacist to choose the calcium supplement best suited for you. The extensive B-Cal range to best suit each unique patient profile includes B-CAL-DM (Calcium with Vitamin D3 and Magnesium); B-CAL-D (Calcium and Vitamin D3), B-CAL Ultra (Calcium with vitamins and minerals), B-CAL (Calcium) and Calcium Citrate D (Calcium effervescent with Vitamin D3). Always speak to your doctor or pharmacist about whether you might require a calcium supplement, any possible side effects and how best to take it. Visit https://calciums.co.za/ for more information. — Supplied.