What is calcium? What are the benefits of calcium? What happens when there is calcium deficiency and what are the symptoms? Are there any calcium side effects?
Calcium is an important mineral in which 99 percent of it is stored in your bones and teeth. One of the main functions of calcium is to grow or build and maintain strong bones and teeth. Its other role is to support a healthy heart, nerves and muscles.
You obtain your calcium from food. Some of the foods high in calcium are dairy products such as yogurt, milk and cheese. Calcium fortified foods such as ready-to-eat cereals, orange juice and soy beverage are also good sources of calcium. Canned foods like sardines and pink salmon and vegetables such as turnip greens, spinach, kale and Chinese cabbage will also provide the calcium that your body needs.
Calcium requires other nutrients for it to function effectively and to be easily absorbed. There are several types of calcium namely calcium citrate, calcium carbonate, calcium lactate, calcium gluconate, calcium phosphate and coral calcium. Other nutrients that will increase calcium's effectiveness are vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin D, vitamin K, magnesium and phosphorus. These forms and combinations of calcium are found in fortified foods, juices and calcium supplements.
Magnesium will activate enzymes to produce energy and regulate the level of calcium in the body. Furthermore, calcium accompanied with magnesium helps build bone density. Vitamin D is needed for calcium to be absorbed from the intestine.
Calcium deficiency occurs because of several reasons. Not getting enough calcium in your diet because of being lactose intolerant or being a vegan are possible causes. Consuming too much coffee and large amounts of carbonated drinks and alcohol decrease the amount of calcium your body preserves. Lack of vitamin D, having intestinal diseases and taking certain medication will also affect your calcium level. Smoking cigarettes and eating foods containing too much sodium and fat also deplete your calcium.
When your body doesn't get enough calcium, it will obtain it from the calcium stored in your bones. Unless you keep adding calcium into your body, the calcium retained in your bones will continue to decrease.
Calcium deficiency symptoms aren't obvious. But you will develop hypocalcemia or a low serum calcium levels in the blood. One of the earliest symptoms is a tingling or "pins and needles" sensation on hands and feet.
The benefits of calcium other than to build and maintain strong bones and teeth and other normal functions are:
Osteoporosis is a disease whereby your bone is thinned and loses its mass. When this happens you are prone to fractures. This condition usually affects women during and after menopause. The bones will lose calcium at a rapid rate. But it can also affect both women and men at early age if calcium intake was insufficient during their childhood through the growing years and early adulthood.
One of the benefits of calcium is to reduce the levels of PMS that affects most women. During this period, women will experience physical, psychological and emotional problems. Bloating, breast tenderness and irritability are common symptoms.
Research indicates that there is a link between lack of calcium and obesity. There are reports that suggest a high calcium diet will lead to the release of hormones that will assist in fat burning and help in the prevention of obesity.
The other benefits of calcium intake, obtained from studies and researches, are the ability to regulate blood pressure and hypertension, decreased risk of colon cancer and stroke and lowering bad LDL cholesterol.
There are no side effects if you are taking the right dosage of calcium supplements or getting them from the foods that you eat. The recommended dietary allowance of calcium developed by the Food and Nutrition Board are 210mg from birth to 6 months old, 270 mg from 7 months to a year old, 500mg from 1 - 3 years old, 800mg from 4 - 8 years, 1300mg from 9 - 18 years old, 1000mg from 19 to 50 years old and 1200mg for those above 50 years old. These dosages apply to both male and female.
An excessive high level of calcium in the blood is known as hypercalcemia. But it is rare. One of the reasons this condition happens is if you were to take 50,000 IU per day or more of vitamin D supplements. The other possible reason is when someone has reached an advance level in cancer.