How important to your gums is calcium?

The human body stores reserves of calcium in bones and teeth, which rely on the mineral for structural support. Calcium also helps muscles and blood vessels function normally, helps regulate hormones and enzymes, and helps transmit nerve impulses. However, many of us don’t get the daily recommended levels of calcium from our diets. A calcium-deficient diet poses health risks, including a higher risk of periodontal (gum) disease.

Studies have shown that women that consumed less than 500 mg of calcium a day were over 50% more likely to develop gum disease than those that consumed more than 800 mg a day.

In addition, low calcium consumption can increase your risk of developing osteoporosis, a serious condition in which the bones weaken and are more likely to fracture. It has been found that osteoporosis can affect the health of your teeth by causing the jaw bone to weaken. The jaw bone anchors the teeth, so if it is damaged, teeth can become loose, and even fall out. Research shows that patients with osteoporosis are three times more likely to lose teeth than those with healthy bones.

The recommended level of calcium you should consume every day depends upon your age. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) reports that infants and toddlers need from 200-700 mg per day, children 4-8 require 1,000 mg per day, children and teens age 9-18 should get 1,300 mg per day, and adults to age 50 require 1,000 mg per day. Adults 51 and over should increase that level to 1,200 mg per day. It is also important to note that adequate amounts of vitamin D are required for your body to absorb calcium from food.

The best sources of calcium are dairy products, such as milk, cheese, and yogurt. However, these green, leafy vegetables are also good natural sources of calcium: collard greens, cow peas, green soybeans (Edamame), spinach, kale, broccoli, and turnip greens. Calcium-fortified juices and breakfast cereals are also easy ways to increase your daily intake of calcium. A quality calcium supplement may be needed to ensure you are getting enough calcium every day.

For more information about calcium and the body, read the NIH report on calcium supplements by clicking HERE.