Calcium is the most abundant mineral in the body, with the majority contained in the bones in the form of calcium phosphate. An adequate supply of calcium from the diet is essential for bone mineral density and is an important determinant of bone strength. Whilst much of the Western world relies on dairy for its calcium intake, dark green leafy vegetables and small fish (containing the bone) are also an excellent source of calcium.
Whilst calcium is best known for its structural role in the skeleton, it also facilitates cell signalling, blood clotting and muscle contraction; maintaining healthy intake is therefore essential. The body relies on a tightly regulated system to ensure enough calcium is available for its roles both in and beyond bone mineralisation. When calcium levels in the blood drop, hormones including vitamin D are released to stimulate increased absorption from the digestive tract and the kidney, as well as calcium released from the bones. Each day, calcium is released from the bones and subsequently replaced, according to body’s needs and calcium available. Some calcium is also lost each day in urine and faeces, therefore to maintain the delicate balance needed for optimal bone density and cellular function, adequate levels of calcium must be consumed in the diet.
Calcium absorption and utilisation is dependent on a number of factors including the amount being consumed, ability to absorb it (digestive health), vitamin D status and weight-bearing activity. Persistently poor intake and/or absorption of calcium will lead to significant bone mineral resorption and development of osteoporosis, which today affects one in three/ five women and men respectively.
Calcium supplements are very commonly consumed and prescribed today in order to prevent the high incidence of low bone mineral density complications. Calcium supplementation is particularly important for anyone not reaching the recommended daily minimum intake of 1000mg for adults and 1300mg for adolescents. Ensuring sufficient intake throughout growth and development as well as adult life, together with vitamin D and weight-bearing exercise, is vital for protecting bone strength and health.
Calcium is not found naturally in its elemental state outside of food sources but is commonly found in sedimentary rock. As a result the majority of calcium supplements available are made from cheap sources such as rock deposits, limestone or oyster shell. Unlike the calcium consumed from food, the body cannot easily absorb these forms and using these types of supplements results in large ‘free’ calcium levels in the circulation which can become deposited in the arteries, adding to plaque formation and an increased risk of heart attack and stroke.
Choosing a supplement made from highly bioavailable algae-derived calcium is a much safer and effective alternative to rock-based supplement sources. Algas calcareas a novel food source of calcium used for supplements and is rich in bioavailable calcium as well as in magnesium and over 70 other trace minerals important for bone health, making it a superior choice for bone support. Studies suggest that the unique mineral composition of red algae not only promotes bone formation, thereby making it useful in treating bone diseases such as osteoporosis, but also has potent anti-inflammatory potential.