Calcium is an essential nutrient that is overlooked by many of us. Calcium is utilized by almost every cell of our body and it plays important role in cardiovascular system, nervous system and muscles of body. It is vital for bone health and teeth. You will find calcium pills in every person’s medicine box literally. If you are thinking to include one for yourself as well, you must read the article below.
Why do you need Calcium?
The recommended amount of calcium depends on age of a person.
- According to National Institute of Health a healthy adult should get 1,000mg of calcium on daily basis.
- For women 1200mg of calcium is recommended by NIH especially for women who are above 50 years of age or women during pregnancy or breast-feeding period.
- For young children 200-260mg is recommended.
- For kids upto18 years >1300mg is recommended.
Additional amount of calcium can be recommended by doctors for people who:
- Follow vegan diet
- Are allergic to cow’s milk or they are lactose intolerant
- Have just started menopause
- Disturbed menstruating cycle due to anorexia nervosa or excessive exercise
Natural source of Calcium
Our body does not produce calcium so we rely on our diet to get the calcium. Calcium can be obtained through a wide range of foods and drinks. Following foods and food products are rich with calcium.
- Dark green vegetables such as broccoli, spinach and kale
- Dairy products such as cheese, yogurt and milk
- Sardines and Salmon
- Fortified dairy alternatives such as soy milk
- Nuts and seeds especially chia seeds, sesame and almonds
- Grains and legumes
- White beans
Role of Vitamin D in Calcium Absorption
In order for our body to absorb calcium vitamin D is required. That means a calcium rich diet won’t benefit a person if he has lower vitamin D concentration.
Health Benefits of Calcium
Calcium is an important mineral that helps in maintaining several body functions. Some of the important functions are:
- Plays important role in muscle movement
- Helps in maintaining strength
- Assists in carrying nerves and messages between brain and body
- Helps in bone and teeth formation
- Helps in releasing enzymes and hormones that helps in performing body functions
1. Calcium in Bone and teeth Health
99% of calcium of our body is stored in our bones and teeth. It is essential for growing new healthy bones and also maintaining the developed bones strong and healthy. Bones in our body keeps remodeling throughout life depending on stress placed on the bones. By the age of 30 the growth process of bones is on peak, this means stronger the bones are at age 30 the bone loss will be delayed.
2. Calcium and its role in muscle contraction
Calcium plays an important role in regulating muscle contractions of body. After a nerve is stimulated by a muscle calcium is released by body. This released calcium plays an important role in activating proteins that carries out the process of muscle contraction. After contraction, body pumps out calcium from muscles and this causes muscles to relax.
3. Cardiovascular system
Blood clotting is a complex and essential process and calcium plays an important role in it. Moreover, Calcium helps in maintaining healthy blood pressure as it helps in relaxing and tightening the blood vessels as required by the body. As the blood flow is regulated through calcium slight irregularity of calcium level can result in heart attack or stroke.
4. Calcium is important for women
It is proved through several studies that calcium helps in easing the pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS) symptoms. In a study, lower intake of magnesium, calcium and lower serum levels were observed in women with PMS.
Body Changes after consuming suggested dose of Calcium
It is suggested through several studies that if calcium intake is regular and up to the suggested dosage this can result in following benefits:
- Lower risk of developing blood pressure in young people and pregnant women
- Lower risk of developing colorectal adenomas
- Improved cholesterol levels
Causes of lower calcium levels
Hypokalemia also known as lower calcium levels can be due to underlying health condition or lifestyle habits. Following conditions leads to lower calcium levels:
- Some health conditions such as inflammatory disease, Crohn’s Disease or other digestive diseases
- Vitamin D and phosphate deficiency
- Higher consumption of soda, alcohol or caffeine
- Surgical process that involves removal of stomach
- Kidney Failure
- Bulimia, anorexia, and some other eating disorders
Calcium pills helps in achieving the required calcium levels of body. Calcium citrate and calcium carbonate are considered as most recommended calcium supplements.
- Calcium Carbonate: This calcium supplement is cheaper and more commonly available. It can be found in most antacid medicines. In order for it to work well it must be taken with food.
- Calcium Citrate: It does not require to be taken with food and in older people it has higher chances of getting absorbed due to lower levels of stomach acids.
Note: It must be kept in mind while taking calcium pills that apart from benefits these supplements also have some side effects. Bloating, gas and constipation can be observed.
Risk factors of Calcium Pills
Just like any other nutrient or mineral increased intake of calcium can cause serious health related complications. Extra amount of calcium can increase risk of developing kidney disease. In some rare cases excess calcium can cause hypercalcemia, a condition in which excess of calcium results in calcium deposition in blood. The higher calcium levels can also cause calcification of blood vessels and soft tissues.
What to do to avoid these complications:
- As calcium can interact with other medications and interfere with them it is advised to take calcium supplements separate from anti-biotics.
- Avoid taking calcium supplements while taking medicines that are calcium channel blockers e.g. medicines that are used for lowering blood pressure.
Calcium is an essential nutrient and it is important for overall health of body. It is best considered to obtain required calcium from the dietary sources but calcium pills are also available and are a great way to keep up your calcium levels intact even when you are on the go!