Calcium is a nutrient that all organisms, including humans, need. It is the most abundant mineral in the body, and it is vital for bone health.
Humans need calcium to build and maintain strong bones, and 99% of the body’s calcium is in bones and teeth. It is also necessary to maintain healthy communication between the brain and other parts of the body. It plays a role in muscle movement and cardiovascular function.
Calcium occurs naturally in many foods and food manufacturers add it to certain products. Supplements are also available.
This article shows why the body needs calcium, what foods are rich in calcium, what happens when the body does not have enough, and the benefits and rules of taking supplements.
Why we need calcium?
Calcium plays different roles in the body.
About 99% of the calcium in the human body is found in bones and teeth. Calcium is essential for bone development, growth, and maintenance.
As children get older, calcium contributes to their bone development. After a person stops growing, calcium helps maintain bones and reduce bone density, which is a natural part of the aging process.
Women who have already experienced menopause may lose bone density at a higher rate than men or young people. They have a higher risk of developing osteoporosis and a doctor may recommend calcium supplements.
Calcium helps control muscle contraction. When nerves stimulate a muscle, the body releases calcium. Calcium helps muscle proteins to contract. Muscles will relax when the body pumps calcium from the muscles.
Calcium plays a key role in blood clotting. The process of freezing is complex and consists of several steps. It contains various chemical chemicals including calcium
The role of calcium in muscle function involves maintaining the function of the heart muscles. Calcium relaxes the smooth muscles surrounding the blood vessels. Various studies have suggested a possible link between higher calcium intake and lower blood pressure.
Vitamin D is also essential for bone health and it helps the body absorb calcium. Learn more about vitamin D and why we need it.
Calcium is a co-factor in many enzymes. Some basic enzymes cannot function efficiently without calcium.
Studies have further suggested that adequate calcium intake results in:
- Low risk of developing conditions associated with high blood pressure during pregnancy
- Low blood pressure in young people
- Lower the blood pressure of mothers who received adequate calcium during pregnancy
- Improves cholesterol values
- The risk of colorectal adenomas is low, a type of non-cancerous tumor
People can get calcium from different foods and drinks.
The following are good sources:
- Safe milk alternatives such as soy milk
- Sardines and salmon
- Green vegetables, such as broccoli, turnip leaves, watercress, and kale
- Lots of castle breakfast cereals
- Preserved fruit juice
- Almonds and seeds, especially nuts, sesame, and chia
- Beans and grains
- Cornmill and corn tortillas
- Some dark green vegetables, such as spinach, contain calcium.
However, they also contain high levels of oxalic acid. Oxalic acid reduces the body’s ability to absorb calcium, according to studies.
How much do I need?
According to the Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS), people need the following amounts of calcium:
- 0-6 months: 200 mg (mg)
- 7–12 months: 260 mg
- 1-3 years: 700 mg
- 4-8 years: 1,000 mg
- 9-18 years: 1,300 mg
- 19-50 years: 1,000 mg
- 51-70 years: 1000 mg for men and 1,200 mg for women
- 71 years or older: 1,200 mg
- Pregnant and breastfeeding women need 1000-1003 mg depending on age.
A physician may recommend extra calcium for those who:
- Menopause has begun
- Stop-start urination due to anorexia nervosa or excessive exercise
- Has lactose intolerance or a cow’s milk allergy
- Follow a vegan diet
Calcium and diet
Your body does not produce calcium, so you must get it through other sources.
Calcium is found in a variety of foods, including:
- Dairy products, such as cheese, milk, and yogurt
- Green leafy vegetables, such as broccoli and kale
- Edible soft-bodied fish, such as sardines and canned salmon
- Alternatives to calcium-fortified foods and beverages, such as soy products, cereals and fruit juices, and milk
To absorb calcium, your body needs vitamin D. Foods You can get vitamin D from fortified foods and sun exposure. The RDA of vitamin D is 600 international units (15 micrograms) a day for most adults.
Who should consider calcium supplements?
Even if you eat a healthy, balanced diet, it can be very difficult to get enough calcium if you:
- Follow a vegan diet
- Keep lactose intolerance and limit dairy products
- Get plenty of protein or sodium, which can help your body excrete more calcium
- Is receiving long-term treatment with corticosteroids
- Some intestinal or digestive diseases reduce your ability to absorb calcium, such as inflammatory bowel disease or celiac disease
In this situation, calcium supplements can help you meet your calcium needs. Talk to your doctor or dietitian about whether calcium supplements are right for you.
What are the risks of calcium supplements?
Calcium supplements are not for everyone. For example, if you have a health condition that causes excessive-high calcium (hypercalcemia) in your bloodstream, you should avoid calcium supplements.
It is not final but may contain a link between high-dose calcium supplements and heart disease. Evidence is mixed and further research is needed before doctors know what effects calcium supplements may have on the risk of a heart attack.
The same national debate surrounds calcium and prostate cancer. While some studies have shown that high calcium intake from dairy products and supplements may increase the risk, another recent study found that taking total calcium, dietary calcium, or supplemental calcium did not increase the risk of prostate cancer.
It is important to be careful about avoiding excess calcium until you know more about these potential risks. As with any health problem, it is important to talk to your doctor to determine what is right for you.
Calcium supplement types
Different types of calcium compounds are used in calcium supplements. Each compound contains different types of mineral calcium – known as primary calcium. Common calcium may be labeled as a supplement:
- Calcium carbonate (40% primary calcium)
- Calcium citrate (21% primary calcium)
- Calcium gluconate (9% primary calcium)
- Calcium lactate (13% primary calcium)
The two main forms of calcium supplements are carbonate and citrate. Calcium carbonate is cheap and therefore often a good first choice. Other forms of complementary calcium include gluconate and lactate.
Also, some calcium supplements are combined with vitamins and other minerals. For example, some calcium supplements may also contain vitamin D or magnesium. Check your ingredient list to see what form of calcium your calcium supplement has and what other nutrients it may contain. This information is important if you have any health or dietary concerns.
Selecting calcium supplements
When looking at calcium supplements, consider these factors:
The amount of calcium
Primary calcium is important because it is the actual amount of calcium in the supplement. Your body absorbs it for bone growth and other health benefits. Complementary information about calcium supplements Labels helps determine how much calcium is in a serving. For example, calcium carbonate contains 40% primary calcium, so 1,250 mg (mg) of calcium carbonate contains 500 mg of primary calcium. Be sure to note the serving size (number of tablets) when determining how much calcium is in one serving.
There are a few, if any, side effects due to calcium supplements. However, side effects can sometimes occur, including gas, constipation, and bloating. In general, calcium carbonate has the most constipation. You need to try a few different brands or types of calcium supplements to tolerate your best.
What prescriptions you take
Calcium supplements can interact with many different prescription medications, including blood pressure medications, synthetic thyroid hormone, bisphosphonates, antibiotics, and calcium channel blockers. Depending on your medication, you may need to take supplements with or without food. Ask your doctor or pharmacist about possible interactions and what types of calcium supplements will work for you.
Quality and cost
Manufacturers are responsible for ensuring that supplements are safe and that claims are truthful. Some companies have their products tested independently by the United States Pharmacopoeial Convention (USP), Consumer Lab.com (CL), or NSF International. Meets values. Different types of calcium supplements have different costs. Comparison Shop If Price Is For You.
Calcium supplements are available in a variety of sizes, including tablets, capsules, chews, liquids, and powders. If you have trouble swallowing your pills, you can get a chewy or liquid calcium supplement.
Your body must be able to absorb calcium for this to be effective. All types of calcium supplements absorb better when taken in small doses (500 mg or less) during meals. Calcium citrate is equally well absorbed with or without food and is a recommended form for lower stomach acid (in people over 50 or a general acid blocker recipient), inflammatory bowel disease, or absorptive disorders.
Not always better: There is a risk of too much calcium
Dietary calcium is generally safe, but no more is needed and excess calcium does not protect extra bones. If you take calcium supplements and eat calcium-fortified foods, you are getting more calcium than you realize. Check food and supplement labels to see if you are getting total calcium per day and you are achieving RDA but not exceeding the recommended upper limit. Be sure to tell your doctor if you are taking calcium supplements.
Is it good to take calcium tablets everyday?
“The truth is, the research is inconclusive. But there is a growing body of evidence that suggests no health benefit, or even worse, that calcium supplements may be harmful.” Multiple studies have found that there's little to no benefit to taking calcium supplements for the prevention of hip fractures.
What does calcium do for your skin?
Calcium works with the epidermis to produce sebum, a natural skin-coating substance that keeps the skin maintaining its natural moisture. An inadequate amount of calcium produces less sebum leaving the skin dry and unhealthy.
How do I know if I am getting enough calcium?
A severe calcium deficiency can produce symptoms, such as numbness and tingling in the fingers, convulsions, and abnormal heart rhythm. To ensure you're getting enough calcium, consume the recommended amount. Dairy products (milk, yogurt, cheese) are plentiful sources.
What happens if there is not enough calcium in the body?
If your body doesn't get enough calcium and vitamin D to support important functions, it takes calcium from your bones. This is called losing bone mass. Losing bone mass makes the inside of your bones become weak and porous. This puts you at risk for bone disease osteoporosis.
Does calcium help you sleep?
Most know that calcium is good for your bones and teeth, but it's also good for your sleep as well. Calcium helps the body use the amino acid tryptophan to make melatonin, a hormone that helps you fall asleep and stay asleep.
Does calcium help hair growth?
Calcium is an important mineral for hair growth and can be found in low-fat dairy products such as skim milk and yogurt. These products also contain whey and casein, which are sources of protein.
Does calcium tablets increase weight?
They found that dietary calcium supplementation produced a dose-related diminution in weight gain and fat mass. In these studies, high calcium intakes were found to be associated with reduced adipocyte fatty acid synthase activity and increases in lipolysis.
Does calcium reduce belly fat?
A recent study suggests that dietary calcium lowers body weight by converting a portion of dietary energy to heat rather than to stored body fat.