Calcium benefits for body are many from “making up most of our teeth and bone structure, allowing bodily movement by keeping tissue rigid, strong, and flexible”.
Body “bone structure and teeth store 98% of calcium from total body supply. The body uses the bones as a reservoir source of calcium to maintain calcium homeostasis. 99% of calcium in the body is an inorganic matrix of calcium and phosphate which is stored in bones and teeth”.
Our bone “goes through continuous remodeling, with constant resorption and deposition of calcium into new bone. Bone remodeling is required to change bone size during growth, repair damage, maintain serum calcium levels, and provide a source of other minerals”. According to National Institute of Health (NIH) Bethesda, MD.
Calcium benefits for body in general
“The small, ionized pool of calcium in the circulatory system, extracellular fluid, and various tissues mediates blood vessel contraction and dilation, muscle function, blood clotting, nerve transmission, and hormonal secretion”. Based on research conducted by NIH
Calcium is considered a rich mineral for our body,
- It helps strengthen teeth
- Bone formation
- Maintaining the strength of the skeleton
- Assisting in muscles movement
- Nerves transmitter
- Blood flow
- Releasing hormones and enzymes
What is the best source of calcium?
Most of calcium intakes come for dairy products, and food that contain dairy ingredients. Yogurt, milk, and cheese are naturally rich in calcium.
Some of non-dairy sources of food that contain calcium are, canned sardines and salmon. Vegetables such as kale, broccoli, Chinese cabbage (bok choi).
Grains are considered a good source of calcium unless they are fortified, based on research. However, the amount of calcium grains contain is very small, but people consume them often so they can get enough calcium.
Fortified food with calcium, “include many fruit juices and drinks, tofu, and ready-to-eat cereals. Calcium citrate malate is a well-absorbed form of calcium used in some fortified juices”.
The absorption of calcium varies by type of food. Dairy products and fortified foods the absorption can be 30% and much less in plants with certain compounds such as collard greens, sweet potatoes, rhubarb, spinach, and beans which is only 5%. “Certain pants can decrease absorption by forming indigestible salts with calcium”. (NIH)
In addition,” the bioavailability of calcium from other plants that do not contain these compounds including broccoli, kale, and cabbage, is similar to that of milk, although the amount of calcium per serving is much lower”.
The benefits of calcium for women?
Calcium benefits for body are vital, especially for women. “Calcium buildups increase the first 30 years of our life and then slowly decrease with age”. Calcium is the key to grow new bone and keep it strong. Women’s bone density is different than men’s which makes it easier to bone loss during the aging process.
Also, childbearing is one the factors women lose bone if they developed bad diet habit during the pregnancy. Fetus’ first target to maintain food supply when there is shortage of food, is mother’s bones.
Doctors use “calcium to control the levels of magnesium, potassium, and phosphorus in the blood. It also plays very important role according to research and helps controlling high blood pressure. A balanced amount of calcium in the body prevents from osteoporosis “weak bones-easily breakable bones”.
When having balanced vitamin D levels, “may help PMS symptoms and protecting women from breast cancer”. Based on research, women in their postmenopausal period, “breakdown of the bone exceed bone formation resulting in bone loss and increase the risk of osteoporosis over time”.
Therefore, sufficient calcium intake is required to peak bone mass and reduce bone loss late in life which “can lead to fractures and osteoporosis”.
What is the right amount of calcium intake?
The intake of calcium and other nutrients may vary by sex, age, and other. Therefore, the dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs) at the National Academic of Sciences “set reference values used for planning and assessing nutrient”. Based on (NIH)
The average daily level of intake to meet the nutrient requirements for verious individuals according to (DRIs) include:
- Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA): To meet the requirements of (97%–98%) healthy individuals.
- Adequate Intake (AI): To ensure nutritional adequacy
- Estimated Average Requirement (EAR): To meet the requirements of 50% of healthy individuals
- Tolerable Upper Intake Level (UL): To cause adverse health effects.
Excessive intake above the “Upper Limit” amount such as 4,000 mg per day “can result in constipation, bloating, kidney damage, milk-alkali syndrome, vascular and soft tissue calcification, and hypercalciuria”.
Calcium supplements women may consider
Our market today is flooded with variety of brands that can offer great ingredients to supplement the body. However, one might get lost in this big market. Before considering purchasing any type of supplement, we recommend to seek your medical advice. It’s best taking supplement after testing the nutrient levels in the blood and follow doctor’s recommendation.
The two most common forms of calcium in supplements are:
- calcium carbonate and calcium citrate. “In people with low levels of stomach acid, the solubility rate of calcium carbonate is lower, which could reduce the absorption of calcium from calcium carbonate supplements unless they are taken with a meal”.
- Calcium citrate “is less dependent on stomach acid for absorption than calcium carbonate, so it can be taken without food. In general, however, absorption of calcium supplements is greater when they are taken with food, regardless of whether the user’s gastric acid is low”.
Other calcium forms in supplements include calcium sulfate, ascorbate, microcrystalline hydroxyapatite, gluconate, lactate, and phosphate”. According to (NIH)
Calcium deficiency may reverse the calcium benefits
For healthier, stronger bones and to prevent future osteoporosis, we should prevent calcium deficiency. Calcium deficiency can cause “rickets in children and other bone disorders in adults, although these disorders are more commonly caused by vitamin D deficiency”. (NIH)
“Children with rickets, the growth cartilage does not mineralize normally, which can lead to irreversible changes in the skeletal structure. Another effect of chronic calcium deficiency is osteomalacia, or defective bone mineralization and bone softening, which can occur in adults and children”.
“Hypocalcemia (serum calcium level less than 8.5 mg/dL [2.12 mmol/L] or an ionized calcium level below 4.61 mg/dL [1.15 mmol/L]) is usually a result of a vitamin D or magnesium deficiency”.
In addition to, “impaired parathyroid hormone (PTH) production leading to hypoparathyroidism, impaired bone resorption of calcium, critical illness, or use of certain medications”.
Including, “Hypocalcemia can be asymptomatic, especially when it is mild or chronic. When signs and symptoms do occur, they can range widely because low serum calcium levels can affect most organs and symptoms. The most common symptom is increased neuromuscular irritability including, numbness, tingling in the hands and feet, and muscle spasms”.
What type of vitamins best for balancing calcium?
As we mentioned previously, calcium is hard to be absorbed without the help of other vitamins such as magnesium and vitamin D.
These two essential nutrients are necessary for various organ functions. Magnesium helps activating vitamin D which helps in regulating calcium and “phosphate homeostasis to influence the growth and maintenance of bones”. According to research.
It is recommended to take vitamin D to help absorb calcium and strengthen the bones. “Most adults need 600 IU a day of vitamin D at least”. (NIH)
Only few food products contain vitamin D at the minimal level, such as egg yolks, canned salmon, and fortified foods, including sun exposure.
For some people, it is difficult to get enough calcium for the body If the person is vegan, being lactose intolerance or have certain digestive diseases. In such conditions, calcium supplements will assist you meet the required levels of calcium.
As we always recommend, consulting family doctor before taking any supplements is a good choice to prevent future health issues.