Consuming the recommended daily amounts of calcium and understanding nutrition labels allows you to ensure your body receives what it needs to function at its best. Percent daily values of calcium are provided on nutrition labels and let you assess the nutritional value of foods, including calcium.
Function of Calcium
Nearly all of the calcium in the body, approximately 99 percent, is stored in the bones and teeth, while the remaining one percent is found in the blood and other bodily tissues. Calcium plays a critical role as a mineral in the primary structural component of bones and teeth known as hydroxyapatite crystals. Calcium is also involved in bone growth or remodeling, a dynamic process in which bone is broken down and then built back up by specialized cells. Calcium is also a cell signaling molecule that participates in muscle contraction, blood vessel constriction and dilation, nerve signaling and hormone secretion, according to the Linus Pauling Institute.
Percent Daily Values
Percent daily values are found on nutrition or supplement facts labels for food, beverages and dietary supplements. The percent daily value represents the percentage of the recommended daily intake level of a respective nutrient per single serving. For example, if a single serving of juice contains 30 percent daily value of calcium, then each serving provides 300 milligrams of calcium per serving, because the established daily value or DV for calcium is 1,000 milligrams, according to the United States Food and Drug Administration or FDA. Percent daily values are always based upon a 2,000 calorie diet and are for adults and children over the age of four; they were developed by the FDA as an easy way for consumers to compare nutrient contents of food products. Foods labeled as high in a respective nutrient must contain a percent daily value of at least 20 percent, while foods labeled as a good source must contain between 10 and 19 percent daily value. Values 5 percent or below are considered low in the respective nutrient.
Dietary Reference Intakes
The Food and Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine establishes RDAs or recommended dietary allowances for nutrients, such as calcium. RDAs represent the amount of daily calcium required to meet the nutritional requirements for 97 to 98 percent of a healthy population’s respective gender and age group. Adults age 19 and older require 1,000 to 1,200 milligrams of calcium per day while adolescents age 9 to 18 require 1,300 milligrams per day. Children ages 1 to 3 require 700 milligrams per day while those ages 4 to 8 need 1,000 milligrams per day. Good sources of calcium include dairy products such as yogurt, milk and cheese as well as sardines, salmon and cereals and juices fortified with calcium.
Adequate calcium intake is important due to the critical role calcium plays in a variety of bodily processes. Hypocalcemia -- or low blood calcium levels -- due to a diet low in calcium is rare. Hypocalcemia is most often a result of a medical condition. However, falling short of the recommended daily calcium intake levels over the long-term can lead to osteopenia or lower than normal bone density. Calcium is particularly important during adolescent growth and development, a time during which peak bone mass is achieved, according to the Linus Pauling Institute. As individuals age, inadequate calcium leads can lead to a thinning of the bone, a condition known as osteoporosis.