The general assumption is that calcium supplements improve bone strength and while that is the very reason we take these supplements, overuse could result in heart problems. In this article, we will discuss why calcium supplements are important.
Why do people need calcium?
The body needs calcium to build and maintain strong and healthy bones. 99% percent of the body’s calcium is in the teeth and bones while the remaining one percent is present in the bloodstream and is used to release hormones such as insulin, send nerve signals and regulate how blood vessels and muscles should dilate and contract. Calcium is needed to maintain proper bodily functions. If you do not receive an adequate amount from your regular diet, your body will pull calcium from your teeth and bones to use it elsewhere. This causes a weakening of the bones and teeth and causes complications.
Recommendations for calcium intake
Calcium has to be taken according to the recommendations that are dependant on your age gender and of course health concerns. Women aged 50 years or younger need 1000 mg per day and women over 50 years of age need 1200 mg per day. Men aged 70 years and younger need 1000 mg per day and men over 70 years old need 1200 mg per day of calcium. There is a limit to the maximum amount of calcium one can consume as well. The cap is set at 2500 mg per day for adults up to 50 years of age and 2000 mg per day for people aged over 50 years.
It is possible to get the recommended amount of calcium from the food you eat every day. Foods that are rich in calcium include leafy greens, dairy products, beans, nuts, and tofu. However, people who do not consume calcium-rich food in sufficient amount might need to use calcium supplements. Calcium supplements are primarily available in two forms: Calcium carbonate and calcium citrate.
Who needs calcium supplements?
Calcium deficiency will result in osteoporosis especially in women. Doctors prescribe calcium supplements to women if they’re approaching menopause or have reached it.
Those who follow a specific dietary plan or those who are vegans might also require calcium supplements to make up for the deficit. A high-sodium or high-protein diet, makes the body excrete a higher amount of calcium. Such people might need to take supplements.
Those who have a health condition which restricts the body’s ability to absorb the required amount of calcium from food, like inflammatory bowel disease or Crohn’s disease will also be required to take calcium supplements.
People who are being treated corticosteroids for a long period of time.
Those who suffer from osteoporosis.
Benefits of calcium supplements
There are several benefits of using calcium supplements.
i. They help in preventing loss of bone density in women after menopause. Women lose bone mass after menopause due to declining estrogen levels.
ii. Calcium supplements may help with fat loss and weight loss as well. It has been found after conducting studies that low calcium intake is associated with a high BMI or body mass index as well as high body fat percentage.
iii. Calcium works to lower the occurring of colon cancer as well.
iv. Studies have also shown that calcium supplements may help in improving metabolic markers, especially if it is taken with vitamin D.
Possible dangers and side effects of calcium supplements
Studies suggest that there are certain dangers and ill effects of calcium supplements as well.
i. Calcium supplements may result in heart-related issues. It may increase the risk of stroke and heart attack.
ii. High levels of calcium increase the risk of prostate cancer.
iii. Calcium in abundance may increase the risk of kidney stones.
iv. Accumulation of high amounts of calcium in your bloodstream may lead to a condition called hypercalcemia. It results in nausea, stomach pain, depression, irritability, etc. Hypercalcemia is the result of thyroid conditions, dehydration, and intake of calcium supplements in high amount. Excessive intake of Vitamin D supplements may also cause hypercalcemia by making your body absorb extra calcium from your regular diet.
Important points to consider
When you take calcium supplements, ensure that you do not take it beyond the suggested amount. You need to factor in the amount of calcium you are getting from your food while taking supplements to ensure calcium intake as per recommendation. You need to split up the dosage when taking in supplement form since the body cannot absorb more than a certain amount of calcium at a time. Always take calcium supplements under medical guidance. Let your physician know if you are taking any other medications when he suggests calcium supplements. Similarly, if you are taking only calcium supplements, tell your doctor the same before he suggests you any medicine for any of your health conditions. This is because several medicines and supplements may interact adversely with each other resulting in serious health issues.