The main causes of poor calcium absorption in humans

Optimizing calcium intake plays a pivotal role in supporting robust bone growth, augmenting one's stature, and safeguarding against debilitating conditions such as osteoporosis and ailments stemming from calcium deficiency. However, it's important to acknowledge that the absorption of this crucial mineral is a process influenced by various factors that exhibit variability among individuals. Delving deeper, let's explore the key determinants that can lead to less-than-ideal calcium absorption.

The importance of calcium to human health

Calcium is an essential mineral for the body. Although it only accounts for 1.5 to 2% of body weight, it plays an important role in the activities of the immune system, nervous system, and muscular system. Calcium needs to be supplemented to the body depending on age as follows:

Calcium requirement table by ages

  Age Calcium requirement (mg/day)

4 - 6

7 - 9


Adolescent 10 - 18 1,000
Adult 19 - 25 700


Adequate calcium supplementation helps us stay healthy, supports our height growth optimally, and helps adults and the elderly avoid bone and joint diseases.

Calcium is an essential mineral for the body.

Calcium is an essential mineral for the body.

On the contrary, calcium deficiency or poor calcium absorption will lead to serious health problems, such as physical weakness, anorexia, leg pain, cramps, etc. Prolonged calcium deficiency or prolonged poor calcium absorption will cause children to suffer from rickets, make them shorter than their peers, and cause their bones to be easily deformed.

Adults (especially old people, premenopausal or menopausal women) who are with calcium deficiency will suffer from neurasthenia, forgetfulness, mood swings, and accelerated bone destruction. Prolonged calcium deficiency can cause a series of diseases, such as osteoporosis, hypertension in the elderly, and hypocalcemia at any age.

The main causes of poor calcium absorption

Poor calcium absorption is simply because the body cannot absorb calcium from foods into the bloodstream. According to some studies, poor calcium absorption is not a separate disease but a consequence of many different causes:

Lack of vitamin D

The factor that has a great influence on the development of the skeletal system in general and height, in particular, is vitamin D. Vitamin D is a micronutrient that plays a very important role in helping the body to absorb all calcium in the intestines. Therefore, vitamin D deficiency will lead to a significant reduction in calcium absorption.

Additionally, some studies have shown that vitamin D deficiency often occurs in people with little exposure to sunlight, people with naturally dark skin, obesity, and people who eat less food containing vitamin D.

Vitamin D plays a very important role in helping the body to absorb all calcium in intestines.

Vitamin D plays an important role in helping the body to absorb all calcium in the intestines.

Some special kinds of diseases

Diseases are also a cause of disorders in calcium absorption, which makes calcium levels in the body decline. Not only kidney diseases and gastrointestinal diseases but also many other diseases can hinder calcium absorption, such as Celiac disease, colitis, pancreatitis, Crohn's disease, etc.

Foods that contain Phytic Acid and Oxalic Acid

If Phytic Acid is found abundantly in whole grains and beans, Oxalic Acid is found abundantly in vegetables, such as cabbage, Chinese chives, spinach, sugar beets, etc. Calcium ions combined with acids, such as Phytic Acid and Oxalic Acid will form insoluble calcium salts, which makes the body not absorb calcium. Moreover, it is important to note that Phytic Acid and Oxalic Acid will have a more serious influence on calcium absorption if they are taken with milk.

Overly salty foods

According to the recommendations of the American Institute of Medicine, people should only eat about 1,500 mg of salt per day. Eating too much salt will cause high blood pressure, and promote the excretion of minerals, especially calcium, through the urinary tract. As a result, the amount of calcium in the body is lost gradually leading to calcium deficiency.

According to the recommendations of American Institute of Medicine, people should only eat about 1,500 mg of salt per day.

An average person should only eat about 1,500 mg of salt per day.

Therefore, we need to get rid of bad habits that prevent the body from maximally absorbing calcium while increasing the intake of calcium-rich foods to supplement enough calcium in the body. Once calcium is adequately supplied to the body, it not only helps us stay healthy but also increases our height effectively. 

Calcium deficiency can lead to weaker bones, slower growth rate, and even a stunted height. According to nutritionists, the best solution is to take supplements packed with Calcium for greater bone density and rapid bone growth.

How to ensure sufficient calcium absorption daily?

1. Dietary sources

Include calcium-rich foods in your diet, such as dairy products (milk, yogurt, cheese), leafy green vegetables (kale, spinach, collard greens), fortified cereals, tofu, almonds, and sardines with bones.

2. Vitamin D

Vitamin D is essential for calcium absorption. Ensure you get enough sunlight exposure or consider vitamin D supplements if needed, especially in regions with limited sunlight.

3. Calcium supplements

If you struggle to get enough calcium from your diet, consider calcium supplements. However, consult with a healthcare professional to determine the right dosage and type for your needs.

4. Balanced diet

A balanced diet is like a puzzle with many pieces, and when all the pieces fit together, it helps our bodies work at their best. Apart from calcium, other important nutrients are like the sidekicks to calcium, helping it do its job of making our bones strong.

One of these sidekicks is magnesium. You can find magnesium in foods, like nuts, seeds, leafy green vegetables, and whole grains. Magnesium helps calcium find its way into our bones and keeps our muscles working well.

5. Divided doses

Dividing your calcium supplements into smaller doses throughout the day can be a smart strategy for boosting your body's absorption of this essential mineral. Here's why it works: When you consume a large dose of calcium all at once, your body can only absorb a limited amount at a time. By spreading out your intake, you provide your body with more opportunities to take in the calcium it needs.

In summary,

Understanding the factors contributing to our bodies' occasional difficulty in assimilating sufficient calcium is of paramount significance. Primarily, this challenge arises from dietary choices, insufficient exposure to sunlight for vitamin D synthesis, excessive consumption of caffeinated beverages like coffee and soda, elevated sodium intake, and the use of specific medications. Nevertheless, there are proactive measures we can undertake to enhance calcium absorption within our bodies. Adopting a more wholesome diet, considering vitamin D supplementation, and embracing healthier lifestyle habits are all actionable steps we can take. These proactive measures ensure the enduring strength and vitality of our bones as we progress through the aging process.


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