Calcium is the most abundant and important mineral in your body. While it is mosly found in your teeth and bones, it performs vital functions throughout your metabolic,  nervous, cardiac and circulatory systems. Heart attack patients are often found to have low calcium levels.

Calcium also helps to stimulate enzymes that assist in the absorption of nitrate and nutrients from your food, assist in cell division and proper formation, the breaking down of starches and blood-clotting.

Even plants lose their color and produce less fruit when lacking calcium in the soil!

In fact, many diseases will result from too little calcium in the body, causing low pH levels, or an “acidic” rather than an “alkaline” condition to result. This is a new theory of aging which holds that it is the loss of calcium from our bones that causes a lot of disease and aging. Calcium prevents the blood from becoming too acidic and helps maintain a normal pH balance of about 7.2.

An alkaline diet, which helps preserve the calcium in the bones where your body can retrieve it when necessary, is high in fruit, vegetables, legumes, and nuts, and lower in grains, carbohydrates such as bread, pasta and potatoes, meat, dairy and salt.

So when we age, one of the first things to happen is that we lose calcium, which obviously leads to things like osteoporosis, a terribly debilitating disease that leads to fragile and easily injured bones. But low levels of calcium causes a great more harm than just that.

Too little calcium will also lead to things like muscle and joint pain, tiredness, heart disease, depression, diabetes, gall and kidney stones, PMS, arthritis and even cancer and Alzheimer’s Disease. When the body gets too little calcium, it begins to pull it from the bones, depleting them of this vital nutrient.

The first sign of this depletion may be calcium deposits in the nails or skin. Women are more prone to calcium deficiency than men particularly as they age, because estrogen is required for the assimilation of calcium into the body.

Because calcium is stored in your body’s fat cells, another great benefit of calcium is fat loss, in part by maintaining healthy cholesterol levels which help you lose weight. Calcium helps the body burn fat rather than store it. Of course, as with any weight loss program, exercise is essential for success.

Because calcium is naturally difficult for your body to absorb, even with a good diet, it is recommended that everyone regardless of health over the age of 30 supplement their food intake of calcium with calcium supplements of at least 1 gram per day. Magnesium, vitamins C and D, and iron should also be taken with calcium supplements to aid in absorption by the intestines.

High quality calcium supplements which include the aformentioned substances such as vitamin D and magnesium (and coral calcium – more about below) are best taken on an empty stomach, or with foods such as dairy, meats, fruits and vegetables. They should NOT, however, be taken with foods such as grains and legumes that are high in fiber, as these will tend to block the absorption of calcium.

Good food sources of calcium include green leafy vegetables, dairy products such as milk, yogurt, cream and cheese, cabbage, dried figs, mustard, turnip and dandelion greens, beans, nuts, legumes and fortified foods such as certain cereals, soy products and orange juice. Fish such as salmon, sardines and tuna are another great natural source of calcium.

Of course, no discussion of calcium would be complete without mentioning coral calcium, made famous a few years back by the pioneer calcium researcher Bob Barefoot.

Coral calcium, a refined form of calcium carbonate, is considered by some to be a superior form of calcium because it is derived from mineral rich coral reefs, providing a more naturally balanced trace mineral profile and thus aiding in absorption. The finest coral calcium reefs in the world are thought to be off the coasts of the Ryukyu and Okinawan Islands.

Calcium also helps relax the muscles, so taking some calcium before going to bed can aid in sleep. Calcium is also responsible for blocking the transmission of pain signals along the nerves, so taking adequate calcium supplements can help people who suffer from painful diseases and injuries.

In short, it is critical that you maintain adequate levels of calcium as you age, which will slow your aging process and aid in the prevention of many diseases. Some people even claim that calcium can cure diseases such as cancer. Believe it.

Leave comments with your experiences or questions about calcium below.