Guide to Minerals: Calcium and Magnesium

Calcium from Milk

Vitamins and minerals, also known as micronutrients, are essential to the proper function of our body. Micronutrients are just as important as the macronutrients (carbohydrates, protein, and fat) that we consume for energy in our diet. However, vitamins and minerals are needed in much lesser amounts than the carbohydrates, fats and proteins we eat. With minerals, in particular, all of them are essential and we require some minerals in higher amounts (macro minerals) than others (trace minerals). Minerals (and also vitamins) are the support - the ‘brick and mortar’ – our body needs to help carry out various body processes.

Vitamins are organic substances that come from plants and animals. Minerals are inorganic substances coming from the soil and water, which are then absorbed by plants. As humans we absorb the minerals our bodies need from the plants we consume. There are 15 essential minerals that help support overall health.1

Calcium is the most abundant mineral in the body and is found primarily in the skeleton where it helps build and support bones and teeth. Other important functions dependent on calcium include muscle contraction, regulation of heartbeat, and blood clotting. Inadequate calcium intake leads to bone loss and, eventually, osteoporosis. In children, a calcium and vitamin D deficiency may lead to rickets which causes bone deformities and growth retardation. Low calcium levels may also cause muscle spasms, leg cramps, and can contribute to high blood pressure. The recommended daily intake of calcium for adults is 1000-1300 mg/day.2,3 Food sources include milk, yogurt, cheese, legumes and green vegetables like broccoli and kale and fortified orange juice.

Nearly 50% of Americans do not meet the recommendation for this bone-essential mineral.1 Calcium supplements may help meet this mineral shortfall, and there are different forms of calcium, such as calcium carbonate and calcium citrate.2

Calcium carbonate is best absorbed and tolerated when taken with food in divided doses throughout the day. Sensitive individuals who experience stomach upset (constipation, bloating) with calcium carbonate may better tolerate the calcium citrate form.3 Calcium citrate is well-tolerated and can be taken any time with or without food. Also, for individuals on acid-reducing medication, calcium citrate is a good option since it does not require stomach acid for absorption.2,3 Consult with a healthcare professional to choose a calcium supplement that best meets your individual needs.

Calcium supplements are often combined with other nutrients such as vitamin D and magnesium that offer additional benefits.

Magnesium is a very important mineral in the body, and is commonly identified as an electrolyte. It is touted for its role in maintaining mineral balance, since magnesium works hand-in-hand with calcium. Magnesium is also involved in over 300 essential metabolic functions making this mineral a key player in energy metabolism. Some of the most important functions are:

Cellular Energy Production
Magnesium is necessary to breakdown the food we eat, particularly carbohydrate and fat into cellular energy. Magnesium is required by cells to produce ATP (adenosine triphosphate), the body’s main source of energy.

Muscle & Nerve Health
While approximately 60% of magnesium is found in bone structure, an important portion is found in the bloodstream (extracellular fluid) where it helps support proper muscle contractions and nerve function. The recommended intake of magnesium for adults is 320 mg/day for females and 420 mg/day for males.4 Food sources of magnesium include whole grains (brown rice, oat bran, whole wheat), dark green leafy vegetables, nuts and beans.

Unfortunately, 60% of American adults do not consume adequate amount of this mineral.1 If you do not consume enough of these magnesium-rich foods, a supplement may be beneficial. Some populations need magnesium supplementation due to certain medications or health conditions. In either case, it’s always best to talk to your health care professional to determine if magnesium fits into your daily supplement regimen.

Nature Made offers a variety of calcium and magnesium supplements in tablet and softgel forms to suit your needs, as well as different sensory forms to please your taste buds! Nature Made Calcium Adult Gummies and VitaMelts® are two delicious ways to get your daily dose of calcium. Calcium + D3 VitaMelts® are fast melting tablets that simply dissolve right on your tongue with no water and come in a creamy raspberry flavor. Both are convenient and tasty ways to take your calcium each day!

Potassium, another key mineral, helps to support the balance and distribution of fluids in the body. Potassium is important for maintaining the body’s pH balance, nerve transmission, muscle function, and helping to control the activity of heart muscle. The recommended intake for potassium is 4,700 mg/day for adults.5 Good food sources of potassium include leafy green vegetables, vine fruit such as tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, eggplant and pumpkin, and root vegetables.

Nature Made® Potassium can help fill in the gap if you are missing out on this key mineral, which most adults are. In fact, the US population (100%) is consuming less than the Adequate Intake (AI) for potassium from food alone.7

Iron, one of the trace minerals, is an essential component of red blood cells and has a central role in transporting oxygen in the body. Iron helps prevent iron-deficiency anemia, which is the most common deficiency in the United States, and the most common cause of anemia in the U.S., especially among children and women during their childbearing years.7 The recommended Intake for iron is 8 mg/day for adult males, and 18 mg/day for adult females.8 Food sources of heme iron in the diet include lean meat and seafood. Dietary sources of non-heme iron include nuts, beans, vegetables, and fortified grain products.

Zinc is a trace mineral that plays numerous roles in the body: adequate growth and development, nervous system function, reproduction, and acting as a catalyst in numerous enzymatic reactions in the body. Zinc is also known for playing a key role in the support of a healthy immune system. The recommended daily intake for zinc is 11 mg for adult males and 8 mg for adult (non-pregnant) females.8 Pregnant and lactating adult women require 11 mg/day and 12 mg/day of zinc, respectively.8 Food sources of zinc include oyster, crab, turkey, as well as yogurt, milk, beans, nuts and fortified breakfast cereals.

If getting enough zinc from diet alone may be an issue, consider taking a daily zinc supplement to fill any nutrient gaps.

1.Fulgoni et al. Food, Fortificants, and Supplements: Where Do Americans Get Their Nutrients? J Nutr. 2011; 141:1847-54.
2. Food and Nutrition Board, Institute of Medicine (IOM). Dietary Reference Intakes for Vitamin D and Calcium. Washington, DC: National Academy Press, 2011.
3. Straub DA. Calcium supplementation in clinical practice: a review of forms, doses, and indications. Nutr Clin Pract. 2007;22:286-96.
4. Food and Nutrition Board, Institute of Medicine (IOM). Dietary reference intakes for calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, vitamin D and fluoride. Washington, DC: National Academy Press, 1997.
5. Food and Nutrition Board, Institute of Medicine (IOM). Dietary Reference Intakes for Water, Potassium, Sodium, Chloride, and Sulfate. Washington, DC: National Academy Press, 2005.
6. Wallace TC, et al. Multivitamin/mineral supplement contribution to micronutrient intakes in the United States, 2007-2010. J Am Coll Nutr 2014;33(2):94-102.
7. Escott-Stump S, Mahan LK, Krause MV. Krause’s Food, Nutrition & Diet Therapy. 11th ed. Philadelphia, PA: W.B. Saunders, 2003.
8. Food and Nutrition Board, Institute of Medicine (IOM). Dietary Reference Intakes for Vitamin A, Vitamin K, Arsenic, Boron, Chromium, Copper, Iodine, Iron, Manganese, Molybdenum, Nickel, Silicon, Vanadium, and Zinc. Washington, DC: National Academy Press, 2001.