For calcium to be effective and beneficial for the body, its proper absorption is crucial. In this article, we will explore how calcium is absorbed in the body and what factors influence this process.
The basic functions of calcium
Calcium is not only a key component in bones and teeth, but it is also involved in many other essential physiological functions. It regulates muscle contraction and relaxation, helps control nerve signaling, and is necessary for blood clotting. These functions make calcium an indispensable mineral for overall health and well-being.
Getting enough calcium
To maintain adequate levels of calcium, a balanced diet that includes calcium-rich foods is essential. Dairy products, leafy greens, nuts, and certain fishes are examples of foods rich in calcium. Additionally, supplements are a common method to ensure sufficient intake, especially for those who struggle to get enough calcium from their diet. Here, you can read more about how to get calcium through the diet and what to consider regarding supplements.
What happens in the body?
The body absorbs calcium in the small intestine, particularly in the upper part known as the duodenum. The process begins with the dissolution of calcium from food in a water solution in the stomach. After that, the dissolved calcium is transported to the small intestine, where the actual absorption takes place.
A key player in calcium absorption is vitamin D. When the skin is exposed to the sun's UV rays, vitamin D is produced in the body. This active form of vitamin D, known as calcitriol, promotes increased absorption of calcium in the intestines by enhancing the synthesis of transport proteins that carry calcium across the intestinal wall and into the body's circulation.
Factors affecting absorption
Several factors can affect how much calcium the body absorbs. Here are some of the most important:
- Vitamin D Levels: Adequate levels of vitamin D are necessary for optimal calcium absorption.
- Age: Infants and children usually absorb more calcium than adults, and older adults may experience decreased absorption.
- Stomach acidity: The acidity in the stomach promotes the solubility of calcium, thereby increasing absorption.
- Phosphorus: Phosphorus, often found in the same foods as calcium, can compete for absorption and affect calcium availability.
- Fiber and oxalates: Some fibers and oxalates, found in certain leafy greens, can reduce calcium absorption.
How calcium is stored after absorption
After absorption, calcium is transported in the blood to various parts of the body. Excess stored calcium is primarily stored in the bones and teeth to support their structure and strength. The body regulates calcium levels by releasing it when needed, such as during muscle contraction or to support other vital physiological processes.
Calcium absorption is a complex and finely regulated process crucial for supporting bone health, muscle function, and other vital bodily functions. To optimize calcium absorption, it's important to maintain adequate levels of vitamin D and adopt a balanced diet that includes calcium-rich foods. To ensure you have sufficient levels of calcium, you can order a calcium test that measures levels through a blood test.