How it helps
■ Essential for building and maintaining healthy bones and teeth.
■ Helps regulate heartbeat, control blood pressure, contract muscles, send messages along the nerves.
■ Makes important body chemicals such as hormones and enzymes.
Where calcium can be found
Milk, dairy foods, seafood and green leafy vegetables, almonds, asparagus, brewers yeast and broccoli.
What are the signs of deficiency?
Aching joints, brittle nails, eczema, elevated cholesterol, hypertension and muscle cramps.
■ The amino acid lysine helps in calcium absorption. Lysine, which is also available as a supplement, can be found in cheese, eggs, fish, beans, milk, potatoes, and soy products.
■ Taking calcium with iron can reduce the effect of both minerals.
■ Consuming alcoholic beverages, coffee, junk food, excess salt and white flour can lead to loss of calcium.
■ Supplements are more effective when taken in smaller doses spread throughout the day and before bedtime.
■ Antacids such as Tums or Rolaids are not recommended as a source of calcium because the ingredients neutralize the stomach acid needed for absorption.
■ Calcium supplements should not be taken by people with a history of kidney stones or kidney disease.