Calcium is an essential nutrient that is necessary for many functions in human health. Calcium is the most abundant mineral in the body with 99% found in teeth and bone. Only 1% is found in serum. The serum calcium level is tightly monitored to remain within normal range by a complex metabolic process. Calcium metabolism involves other nutrients including protein, vitamin D, and phosphorus. Bone formation and maintenance is a lifelong process. Early attention to strong bones in childhood and adulthood will provide more stable bone mass during the aging years. Research has shown that adequate calcium intake can reduce the risk of fractures, osteoporosis, and diabetes in some populations. The dietary requirements of calcium and other collaborative nutrients vary slightly around the world. Lactose intolerance due to lactase deficiency is a common cause of low calcium intake. Strategies will be discussed for addressing this potential barrier to adequate intake. The purpose of this narrative review is a) to examine the role of calcium in human health, b) to compare nutrient requirements for calcium across lifecycle groups and global populations, c) to review relationships between calcium intake, chronic disease risk, and fractures, and d) to discuss strategies to address diet deficiencies and lactose intolerance.
Keywords: Bone formation; Calcium intake; Growth; Nutrition.