by Matt Weik
When it comes to bone health, calcium is the first thing that comes to mind, right? You tend to think about drinking milk and consuming dairy products in your diet, no? But what if you aren’t getting in enough calcium from your diet? Well, you could consume more foods that are high in calcium, or you could consider calcium supplements.
Calcium is one of the most essential nutrients critical for bone health and ensuring that your bones are strong to prevent breaks and fractures as you age. Your bones and teeth contain around 99% of the calcium in your body.
Calcium is a superstar that must be included in your diet, or else your bones and muscles can’t function properly. Many people fail to meet the recommended daily intake of calcium, which ultimately can lead to serious health issues. Let’s deep into the benefits of calcium and calcium supplements.
The Benefits of Calcium
Below, you will find some of the most common reasons why you should ensure you consume enough calcium in your diet or at least utilize calcium supplements to fill the nutritional gap.
1. Improve Bone Health
One of the most important benefits of calcium is that it helps in improving bone health. From an early age, calcium aids in developing, growing, and maintaining bones.
Food containing calcium and calcium supplements help strengthen bones and prevent osteoporosis. Also, with age, bone density can reduce, so you can consider adding calcium supplements to your diet.
2. Promote Teeth Health
Your teeth also require adequate amounts of calcium. Supplementing with the required amount of calcium helps to strengthen your enamel (the hard outer shell of your tooth), which protects teeth against erosion and cavities. Therefore, it is important to include calcium-rich foods in your diet or calcium supplements to maintain your dental health.
3. Support Heart Health
Calcium plays an important role in lowering blood pressure by regulating muscle contractions. When muscles are stimulated, calcium is released, which helps your muscles carry out the work of muscle contraction.
Foods High in Calcium
Of course, when you hear the word “calcium,” the first thing that comes to your mind is milk or a few other dairy products like cheese, butter, yogurt, etc. But various other foods are rich in calcium. Here are a few food items that can help you increase the level of calcium in the body:
● Milk, cheese, yogurt, and other dairy products
● Other dairy alternatives like soy milk
● Green leafy vegetables like broccoli, kale, etc.
● Legumes and grains
● Various fortified fruit juices
● Nuts and seeds like almond, chia, etc.
How Much Calcium Should You Consume?
As per the ODS (Office of Dietary Supplements), here’s the recommended amount of calcium intake:
● 0-6 months: 200 mg
● 7-12 months: 260 mg
● 1-3 years: 700 mg
● 4-8 years: 1000 mg
● 9-18 years: 1300 mg
● 19-50 years: 1000 mg
● 51-70 years: 1000 mg (males) 1200 (females)
● 71 years and above: 1200 mg
You should consume additional calcium if:
● You have reached menopause
● You are lactose intolerant or follow a vegan diet
● You have stopped menstruating due to excessive exercise
What Happens When You Don’t Consume Enough Calcium?
If you don’t consume enough calcium, your bone and teeth health may deteriorate. You may also experience frequent muscle cramps and excessive fatigue.
Lack of calcium can also lead to osteoporosis, also known as low bone density or porous bones, making your bones weak and brittle. This puts you at a high risk of bone fracture.
If you have a calcium deficiency or are not getting enough calcium from food items, consider taking calcium supplements. Various types of supplements may contain different types of calcium compounds and elements like:
● Calcium carbonate (contains 40% elemental calcium)
● Calcium citrate (contains 13% elemental calcium)
● Calcium lactate (contains 9% elemental calcium)
● Calcium gluconate (contains 21% elemental calcium)
Before you start consuming supplements, make sure to check with your doctor first. Follow the doses as prescribed by the doctor.
Potential Side Effects of Calcium Supplements
Though calcium is essential for the proper functioning of the body, people may witness a few gastrointestinal symptoms like constipation, gas, or bloating when using calcium supplements.
High levels of calcium can put you at a risk of hypercalcemia, which can affect the functioning of the kidney and lead to the calcification of soft tissues.
According to studies, calcium may increase the risk of kidney stones and heart attack, and also lower iron absorption.
Should You Focus on Calcium?
Absolutely! Calcium is one of the most critical micronutrients of a diet that should be consumed in a balanced amount. Pay close attention to the amount of calcium you consume daily, as it can affect your health.
There are various calcium supplements available on the market but before you consider taking them, consult with your healthcare provider to ensure the supplement will not interact with any medication or other supplements you may be taking.