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Food sources of calcium include dairy products (milk, cheese, yogurt), leafy green vegetables (such as kale and spinach), fortified plant-based milk alternatives, tofu, sardines, and almonds. It is important to note that vitamin D is necessary for proper absorption and utilization of calcium by the body.
It’s important to note that calcium works synergistically with other nutrients, such as vitamin D, magnesium, and vitamin K, to maximize its benefits in the body. Therefore, it’s advisable to maintain a balanced diet that includes a variety of nutrient-rich foods to ensure optimal calcium absorption and utilization.
The recommended daily intake of calcium varies depending on age, sex, and life stage. It is best to consult with a healthcare professional or a registered dietitian to determine the appropriate calcium intake for your specific needs.
It is also worth noting that excessive calcium intake, especially from supplements, can have adverse effects and may contribute to the development of kidney stones in some individuals. Therefore, it is important to aim for a balanced approach to calcium intake through a combination of dietary sources and, if necessary, supplementation under the guidance of a healthcare professional.
Why Calcium is important?
Calcium is an essential mineral that plays a vital role in various physiological processes within the body. Here are some important aspects of calcium:
- Bone health: Calcium is well-known for its role in maintaining strong and healthy bones. It contributes to the development and maintenance of bone mass, which is crucial for preventing osteoporosis and reducing the risk of fractures, especially as we age.
- Muscle function: Calcium is involved in muscle contraction and relaxation. When a nerve stimulates a muscle, calcium is released, allowing the muscle fibers to contract. Adequate calcium levels are necessary for proper muscle function throughout the body, including the heart.
- Blood clotting: Calcium is required for the formation of blood clots to prevent excessive bleeding when a blood vessel is damaged. It is a key component in the clotting cascade, which helps in stopping bleeding and initiating the healing process.
- Nerve function: Calcium plays a role in transmitting nerve impulses throughout the body. It aids in the release of neurotransmitters, which are chemicals that enable communication between nerve cells.
- Enzyme activity: Calcium acts as a cofactor for various enzymes involved in essential biochemical reactions in the body. These enzymes regulate processes such as digestion, energy production, and hormone synthesis.
- Blood pressure regulation: Adequate calcium intake, along with other lifestyle modifications, can contribute to the maintenance of normal blood pressure levels. Calcium helps with the relaxation and constriction of blood vessels, supporting healthy blood flow and blood pressure control.
Calcium offers several important benefits to the body. Here are some key advantages of calcium:
- Bone health: Calcium is crucial for the development and maintenance of strong and healthy bones. It plays a vital role in bone formation, density, and strength, which is essential for preventing osteoporosis and reducing the risk of fractures, especially in older adults.
- Dental health: Calcium is a fundamental component of tooth structure, and it contributes to maintaining healthy teeth. Adequate calcium intake, along with other essential nutrients, helps to promote strong teeth and prevent dental problems like tooth decay and gum disease.
- Muscle function: Calcium is essential for proper muscle function, including muscle contraction and relaxation. It is involved in the transmission of nerve impulses that stimulate muscle fibers, allowing them to contract and generate movement. Adequate calcium levels support normal muscle function throughout the body, including the heart muscle.
- Blood clotting: Calcium is a critical component in the blood clotting process. It helps in the formation of blood clots, which are essential for preventing excessive bleeding when a blood vessel is damaged. Proper blood clotting is necessary to initiate the healing process and prevent severe bleeding.
- Nerve transmission: Calcium plays a role in transmitting nerve impulses. It is involved in the release of neurotransmitters, which are chemicals that allow nerve cells to communicate with each other. Adequate calcium levels support proper nerve function, including the transmission of signals throughout the body.
- Hormone regulation: Calcium is involved in the regulation of hormone release and activity. It helps in the synthesis, secretion, and functioning of various hormones, including those involved in the regulation of metabolism, growth, and development.
- Blood pressure regulation: Calcium, along with other electrolytes, contributes to the regulation of blood pressure. It assists in the relaxation and constriction of blood vessels, supporting healthy blood flow and blood pressure control.
When we refer to calcium types, we are usually talking about different forms or compounds of calcium that are used in dietary supplements or medications. Here are some common types of calcium:
- Calcium carbonate is the most commonly available and widely used form of calcium in supplements. It is derived from sources such as limestone or oyster shells. Calcium carbonate requires stomach acid for proper absorption, so it is recommended to take it with meals.
- Calcium citrate: Calcium citrate is another common form of calcium found in supplements. It is more easily absorbed by the body, making it a suitable choice for individuals with low stomach acid or those taking acid-reducing medications. Calcium citrate can be taken with or without food.
- Calcium gluconate: Calcium gluconate is a form of calcium that is commonly used in intravenous treatments for severe calcium deficiencies or certain medical conditions. It is not typically used as a dietary supplement.
- Calcium lactate: Calcium lactate is a form of calcium derived from lactic acid. It is less commonly used in supplements compared to calcium carbonate and calcium citrate.
When selecting a calcium supplement, it’s also important to consider the elemental calcium content. The amount of elemental calcium indicates the actual amount of calcium available for absorption. For example, a calcium carbonate supplement may contain 40% elemental calcium, while a calcium citrate supplement may contain 21% elemental calcium. Be sure to check the product label for the elemental calcium content to determine the appropriate dosage.
Calcium Side Effects
While calcium is generally safe for most people when taken in recommended amounts, excessive calcium intake from supplements or certain medical conditions can lead to side effects. Here are some potential side effects of calcium:
- Digestive issues: Taking high doses of calcium supplements can cause digestive problems such as constipation, bloating, and gas. These effects are more common with calcium carbonate than with calcium citrate.
- Kidney stones: Excessive calcium intake, especially in the form of supplements, may increase the risk of developing kidney stones in susceptible individuals. This risk is higher for those who have a history of kidney stones or certain medical conditions that affect calcium metabolism.
- Interference with nutrient absorption: Calcium can interfere with the absorption of other minerals like iron and zinc. If you are taking calcium supplements, it is generally recommended to take them at a different time than other mineral supplements to avoid potential interference.
- Hypercalcemia: Extremely high levels of calcium in the blood, known as hypercalcemia, can occur in rare cases. This can lead to symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, excessive thirst, frequent urination, fatigue, and confusion. Hypercalcemia is more likely to occur in individuals with certain medical conditions, such as primary hyperparathyroidism or certain types of cancer.
- Drug interactions: Calcium supplements can interact with certain medications, including certain antibiotics (such as tetracycline and quinolone antibiotics), thyroid medications, and medications used to treat osteoporosis (such as bisphosphonates). These interactions can affect the absorption or effectiveness of the medications.
It’s important to note that most people can obtain adequate calcium through a balanced diet without the need for supplements. If you are considering calcium supplements, it’s recommended to consult with a healthcare professional to determine the appropriate dosage and ensure they are suitable for your specific needs and health conditions.
Remember to eat only fresh vegetables and seasonal fruits that we get directly from mother earth.
However, in order to avoid the fruit’s negative effects, it is always best to consume it in moderation. Nothing in excessive amounts is healthy for our health.
Here we have discussed the Top 15 Calcium benefits and side effects along with causes, prevention and symptoms. Practice eating healthy food & try to make at home as far as possible as it results to stay fit and healthy. Remember to eat more vegetables and homemade foods and eat fewer junk foods and practice yoga and visit yoga page.
What are the symptoms of a lack of calcium?
Low levels of calcium can cause extreme fatigue, which involves a lack of energy and an overall feeling of sluggishness. It can also lead to insomnia, lightheadedness, dizziness, and brain fog characterized by a lack of focus, forgetfulness, and confusion.
What happens to the body when calcium is low?
The calcium level in blood can be moderately low without causing any symptoms. If levels of calcium are low for long periods, people may develop dry scaly skin, brittle nails, and coarse hair. Muscle cramps involving the back and legs are common
What food is highest in calcium?
Dairy products like milk, yogurt, and cheese are rich in calcium and also tend to be the best.
Dark Green, Leafy Vegetables.
Canned Baked Beans.
How do I know if I need calcium?
Calcium helps with muscle contraction, low levels of the mineral means you might experience more muscle cramps than usual specifically in your back and legs. Other symptoms include brittle fingernails, bone-related injuries, irregular heartbeat and tingling in arms and legs.
Who is at risk for calcium deficiency?
People who are a vegetarian may be at risk of calcium deficiency as they can’t digest dairy foods because of lactose intolerance. You have osteoporosis. Try to include fibre & calcium rich foods and drinks.
Which Indian food is rich in calcium?
Dairy products: Like milk, curds, cheese, paneer and buttermilk.
Green leafy vegetables: Greens like spinach, amaranth.
Whole cereals specially ragi: This is also known as nachni.
Sprouts: Pulses like moong, moath beans, chana, matki, kulith, masoor can be sprouted.
What are 3 deficiencies of calcium?
Chronic calcium deficiency can result in rickets, osteoporosis, and osteopenia, as well as disruptions in the metabolic rate and normal function of other bodily processes.