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What is calcium?

Calcium is a mineral that is needed for strong bones and teeth. Calcium is found in dairy products, fortified soy products, green leafy vegetables, nuts and seeds.

What does calcium do for the body?

There are three primary functions of calcium in the body:

  1. Build strong, dense bones and teeth.
  2. Regulate your heartbeat and other muscle contractions.
  3. Aid in normal blood clotting.

A significant lack of calcium over time can lead to osteoporosis. In other words, weak and fragile bones that are more likely to break. In children, a lack of calcium may result in a condition called rickets. Rickets can cause bone pain, slow growth, and deformities. 

How much calcium do I need in a day?

According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the daily recommended intake of calcium for adults and children age 4 years and older is 1,300 mg. To put that in perspective, 1 cup of nonfat milk contains just short of a quarter of your daily requirement.

What foods are high in calcium?

Dairy products such as milk, yogurt, and cheese are well known for being rich in calcium. For individuals who are lactose intolerant, alternative dairy products such as soy and almond milk are usually fortified with calcium as well. Other great sources of calcium include leafy green vegetables, orange juice, fatty fish like sardines and salmon, nuts, and seeds.

What are calcium channel blockers?

Calcium channel blockers—sometimes called calcium channel antagonists—are drugs used to lower your blood pressure by slowing the absorption of calcium into your heart and blood vessel walls. Common calcium channel blockers include:

  • Amlodipine (Norvasc)
  • Diltiazem (Cardizem, Tiazac, others)
  • Felodipine
  • Isradipine
  • Nicardipine
  • Nifedipine (Adalat CC, Procardia)
  • Nisoldipine (Sular)
  • Verapamil (Calan, Verelan)

Related Terms

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Photo of Kristin Ricklefs-Johnson

Medically reviewed by:

Kristin Ricklefs-Johnson, Ph.D., RD

Kristin is an RDN who also earned her Ph.D. in Nutrition from Arizona State University with an emphasis on insulin resistance, lipid metabolism disorders, and obesity. She completed her post-doctoral fellowship at Mayo Clinic where she focused on nutrition-related proteomic and metabolic research. Her interests include understanding the exact mechanism of action of various genetic variations underlying individual predispositions to nutrition-related health outcomes. Her goal is to help all individuals prevent chronic diseases and achieve long, healthy lives through eating well.

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