Calcium is best known as the mineral required in the greatest amounts for bone mineralization. It is so, but what is usually overlooked is that lower calcium intakes are utilised much better for bone mineral if several of the other minerals are in good supply. Often bone demineralization is not through calcium deficiency at all but through other mineral deficiencies that impair bone calcium deposition. The average British diet is adequate in respect of calcium. The only people who may be in slight danger of calcium deficiency are women of postmenopausal age, but usually only if their dietary calcium is below average. The common attempt to solve the problem of osteoporosis by raising calcium intake to unusually high levels has only limited effect. One needs also to guard against deficiencies of boron, zinc, manganese, magnesium, silicon, strontium, chromium, copper and Omega 3 essential fatty acids while avoiding excessive sodium and excessive dietary protein. In our view this gives the reasonable prospect of reversing the damage from bone mineral erosion. But the role of calcium is far from being limited to bone. Like magnesium it is a very essential macromineral with some crucial intracellular roles. It plays a part, along with potassium, sodium and magnesium is providing the necessary intracellular environment. But it also plays a big part in the control of active cellular processes, for example, muscular contraction and production of secretions. Naturopathically, calcium is a moderator of the sometimes very powerful eliminatory effects of magnesium. It is often thought to be a calmer of hyperactive and over-excited states and a high calcium drink or supplement can be ideal at bedtime. One should be none too keen to use calcium carbonate as a supplementary form as it neutralizes stomach acid and this may hinder digestion. Hence the more costly organic salts of calcium make a user-friendlier supplement. >>Source

Uses in the body: essential for the growth and development of healthy bones and strong teeth. Also helps to control blood cholesterol levels, assists nerve, muscle and digestive function, regulates heart muscle function and sleep, and helps the body to absorb vitamin B12.

Signs of deficiency: muscle aches and pains, cramps, poor bone density, cataracts (early onset).

Therapeutic uses: relief from joint pain, arthritis, rickets, osteoporosis, allergies, digestive disorders, depression, anxiety, hyperactivity, nervous tics, insomnia.

Dietary sources: whitebait, bones of canned fish such as sardines, sesame seeds, dairy produce, soya beans, nuts, broccoli and other green leafy vegetables, seaweeds, pulses, wholegrains (bread), oranges. Milk isn’t always a good source of dietary calcium, as it’s low in magnesium – so its calcium content is poorly absorbed – and high in protein, which increases calcium loss in urine. It’s therefore best to get calcium from a variety of sources.

Recommended daily allowance: 800mg
Typical therapeutic daily dose: 500mg to 1,500mg
Daily intake shouldn’t exceed: 1,500mg

Cautions: magnesium and vitamin D (from action of sunlight on the skin) are necessary for good calcium absorption. Diets high in bran, fat and junk food (high in phosophorous) can interfere with calcium absorption. Excess calcium can lead to kidney problems. Not to be taken by people with kidney stones without medical advice.

Best taken: with a glass of water at bedtime, as calcium makes you sleepy and is best absorbed by the body at night. Best taken in a tablet that also contains magnesium to enhance absorption. Dairy-free calcium is available for those with dairy intolerance or allergy. Avoid high fat, bran and junk food diets when taking calcium supplements.