Are you taking enough calcium? What are the health and fitness benefits of calcium? Let’s find out here.
Calcium: When You Take It, It Works
Calcium has been recommended and widely accepted as an essential mineral for bone and skeletal health and numerous body functions-regulating heartbeat, conducting nerve impulses, stimulating hormonal secretions and clotting the blood.
Now, some conflicting and potentially misleading research is threatening to negate the efficacy of this vital mineral.
One factor that the study, published by the Women’s Health Initiative got right was that the government’s recommended daily dosage is necessary to receive the benefits associated with calcium consumption and supplementation.
Yet, more than half of the study participants did not adhere to the recommended calcium supplementation, making improvements in bone density a nearly impossible result.
Meanwhile, those that did comply experienced a whopping 29% lower risk of hip fractures.
Many people, both young and old, are failing to meet calcium intake requirements and the incidence of osteoporosis is climbing. During adolescent and teenage years, when 45% of bone mass is formed, meeting calcium requirements is essential.
According to the Journal of Pediatrics, however, only 10% of teenage girls and 30% of teenage boys are meeting adequate Calcium intake, which places them at serious risk for stunted growth, bone disease and, eventually, osteoporosis.
Calcium is available through dairy products and green, leafy vegetables-yet incorporating adequate amounts into a modern, hectic lifestyle, regardless of age, is often unrealistic. Calcium-fortified foods and supplements, however, can fill the gap.
“It’s very important that people do take a supplement if they’re not getting enough calcium in their diet,” says Nicholina Galinsky, R.N. “Unfortunately, most of us are not aware that we have osteoporosis until we break a bone.”
How Calcium Supplementation Can Affect Your Health Outlook
It seems more emphasis is placed on the importance of vitamin supplementation. While there is some information available about minerals, it is not as prevalent as what is published about vitamins.
Despite the reports that recommend vitamin and mineral supplementation for people who need them, many people don’t consider supplementing their diet with minerals.
Since it’s difficult to know how much of a particular mineral your body is lacking, many people are afraid they may take too much and become sick.
While taking minerals in excess can cause problems, a lack of sufficient minerals in the body can also have an effect on your general health.
Calcium is by far one of the most essential minerals in the body. The parts of the body that are most associated with sufficient calcium are healthy teeth and bones. Calcium also plays a vital role in blood clotting and muscle contraction.
An individual who has a calcium deficiency has an increased risk of developing osteoporosis, a condition characterized by weak bones that makes the individual prone to breaks.
Signs of muscle weakness, such as muscle spasms or cramps or also caused by calcium deficiency. Pregnant and postmenopausal women, young children, and the elderly have the greatest need for calcium.
In addition, anyone who does not consume at least 1200 milligrams each day should consider supplementation.
Calcium supplementation may be particularly important to individuals who are overweight. Recently, there have been reports that consuming the recommended daily amount of calcium can assist with weight loss.
The reports contend that the more calcium that is in the body, the better the body is able to metabolize fat. When there is an insufficient amount of calcium, the body stores more fat.
Although the studies are still relatively new, calcium has also been found to lessen the risk of colon cancer and heart disease.
If you discuss your health concerns with your medical doctor and it is determined that calcium supplementation is right for you, your doctor will probably recommend that you take vitamin D and K. Vitamins D and K assist with calcium absorption and are also beneficial to healthy bones.
It is very important that you do not take more calcium and vitamins D and K than recommended by your doctor. Excessive amounts of any of these can result in serious side effects.
Calcium helps the heart, nerves, muscles, and other body systems work properly.
Common Forms: calcium citrate, calcium carbonate, calcium gluconate, calcium lactate, calcium chloride, calcium malate, calcium aspartate, calcium ascorbate.
Calcium is the most abundant mineral in the body. It is essential for the development and maintenance of strong bones and teeth; roughly 99% of calcium in the body is deposited in these two places.
Calcium also helps the heart, nerves, muscles, and other body systems work properly. To function correctly, calcium must be accompanied by several other nutrients including magnesium, phosphorous, and vitamins A, C, D, and K.
The best sources of calcium are foods (see Dietary Sources), but supplements may be necessary for those who cannot meet their calcium needs through diet alone.
In fact, according to the National Institutes of Health, many people consume less than half the amount of calcium recommended to build and maintain healthy bones.
Heavy use of caffeine can diminish calcium levels. Therefore, higher amounts of calcium may be needed if you drink a lot of coffee.
Also, a diet high in protein can increase loss of calcium through the urine. Excessive intake of sodium, phosphates (from carbonated beverages) and alcohol, as well as the use of aluminum-containing antacids also contribute to increased excretion of calcium.
Calcium deficiency can be found in people with malabsorption problems, such as Crohn’s disease, celiac disease, and surgical intestinal resection. Prolonged bed rest causes loss of calcium from the bones and the elderly are less able to absorb calcium.
Symptoms of calcium deficiency include muscle spasm or cramping, typically in hands or feet, hair loss (alopecia), dry skin and nails, which may also become deformed, numbness, tingling, or burning sensation around the mouth and fingers, nausea and vomiting, headaches, yeast infections (candidiasis), anxiety, convulsions/seizures, and poor tooth and bone development.
Obtaining adequate calcium can help prevent and/or treat the following conditions:
An inadequate supply of calcium over the lifetime is thought to play a significant role in contributing to the development of osteoporosis. Calcium is necessary to help build and maintain healthy bones and strong teeth.
Studies have shown that calcium, particularly in combination with vitamin D, can help prevent bone loss associated with menopause, as well as the bone loss experienced by elderly men.
If adequate amounts of calcium are not being obtained through the diet, calcium supplements are necessary.
Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)
Calcium levels often measure lower the week prior to one’s menstrual period compared to the week after.
Studies suggest that calcium supplementation helps relieve mood swings, food cravings, pain or tenderness, and bloating associated with premenstrual syndrome.
Preliminary studies in animals and people suggest that calcium supplements, in the range of 1,500 to 2,000 mg per day, may help to lower cholesterol.
The information available thus far suggests that keeping cholesterol levels normal or even low by using calcium supplements (along with many other measures such as changing your diet and exercising) is likely to be more beneficial than trying to treat it by adding calcium once you already have elevated cholesterol. More research in this area is needed.
In a population based study (one in which large groups of people are followed over time), women who take in more calcium, both through the diet and with added supplements, were less likely to have a stroke over a 14 year time course.
More research is needed to fully assess the strength of the connection between calcium and risk of stroke.
Although some studies are conflicting, mounting evidence suggests that people who consume high amounts of calcium, Vitamin D, and milk in their diets are significantly less likely to develop colorectal cancer than those who consume low amounts of the same substances.
Although it is best to obtain calcium from the diet, the suggested amounts for the prevention and treatment of colorectal cancer (namely, 800 IU/day of vitamin D and 1,800 mg/day of calcium) will most likely require supplementation.
Both animal and human studies have found that dietary calcium intake (from low-fat dairy products) may be associated with a decrease in body weight.
These effects cannot necessarily be attributed to calcium alone since dairy sources of calcium contain other nutrients (including magnesium and potassium) that may be involved in the weight loss.
A review of all studies up to the year 2000 did conclude, however, that supplementation of 1,000 mg of calcium can facilitate as much as 8 kilograms (17.6 pounds) of weight loss and 5 kilogram (11 pound) loss of fat.
The richest dietary sources of calcium include cheeses (such as parmesan, romano, gruyere, cheddar, mozzarella, and feta), wheat-soy flour, and blackstrap molasses.
Some other good sources of calcium include almonds, brewer’s yeast, bok choy, Brazil nuts, broccoli, cabbage, dried figs, kelp, dark leafy greens (dandelion, turnip, collard, mustard, kale, Swiss chard), hazelnuts, ice cream, milk, oysters, sardines, canned salmon soybean flour, tahini, and yogurt.
Foods that are fortified with Calcium, such as juices, soy milk, rice milk, tofu and cereals, are also good sources of this mineral.
Calcium may also be obtained from a variety of herbs, spices, and seaweeds. Examples include basil, chervil, cinnamon, dill weed, fennel, fenugreek, ginseng, kelp, marjoram, oregano, parsley, poppy seed, sage, and savory.
New Life Health Centers has no means of independently evaluating the safety or functionality of the products offered by their suppliers and affiliates and thus can neither endorse nor recommend products.
Information presented is of a general nature for educational and informational purposes only.
Statements about products and health conditions have not been evaluated by the US Food and Drug Administration. Products and information presented herein are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent disease.
If you have any concerns about your own health, you should always consult with a physician or other healthcare professional.
- Are your dietary consumption includes enough Calcium?
- Or do you take additional calcium supplementation?
- What are your favorite high-calcium foods?
- Are you aware of the importance of Calcium to your body processes?
- Are you aware of the health benefits of Calcium?