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Calcium

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Calcium Is Essential for Healthy Bones

Calcium is an extremely important mineral that is prevalent in a variety of foods. Calcium plays an important role in bone health.

The majority of calcium can be found in your bones and teeth as it helps keep teeth and bones hard.

Calcium is important for more than just bone and teeth health though. It also helps carry messages from the brain to your body and helps move blood through your body.

Calcium also plays a role in making sure hormones and enzymes are released naturally in the body.

Food Sources of Calcium

  • Milk, yogurt, cheese
  • Kale, broccoli, Chinese cabbage
  • Sardines, salmon
  • Fortified products
  • Supplements

People Vulnerable to Calcium Deficiencies

Certain groups of people are more prone to being calcium deficient. These include:

  • Postmenopausal women
    • These women will are especially susceptible to issues with bone density and osteoporosis and commonly do not absorb calcium as well as they need to.
  • Women who experience amenorrhea (lack of a menstrual cycle)
    • Unless pregnant women do not commonly lack a menstrual cycle. Women who experience amenorrhea typically stop experiencing menstrual periods due to either heavy exercise or not enough calories, sometimes a combination of both.
  • Lactose intolerant people
    • People who have lactose intolerance have trouble digesting sugars found in milk. Luckily there are a variety of lactose-free or low-lactose products that they can purchase to receive calcium.

Signs & Symptoms of Calcium Deficiency

If the body does not get enough calcium from diet for supplements it will begin taking it from the bones. If this continues for a period of time it can have quite drastic effects on your overall bone density.

The lower your bone density is the greater your risk for developing diseases such as osteoporosis or having a bone fracture.

If you have an extremely sever calcium deficiency you may experience any of the following:

  • Numbness
  • Tingling in fingers
  • Convulsions
  • Abnormal heart rhythms

Variety of Calcium Supplements

Calcium is often found in multivitamin and mineral supplements but separate calcium supplements do exist.

While it's important to get enough calcium it's also important to make sure that you are not exceeding the safe upper limit for this mineral.

Calcium generally comes in one of two different forms: calcium carbonate or calcium citrate.

Calcium carbonate absorbs best when taken with food and calcium citrate is better absorbed on an empty stomach.

Too much calcium can cause constipation and could possibly increase your risk of kidney stones. The safe upper limits are as follows:

  • Birth to 6 months: 1,000 mg
  • Infants 7-12 months: 1,500 mg
  • Children 1-8: 2,500 mg
  • Children 9-18: 3,000 mg
  • Adults 51 and older: 2,000 mg
  • Pregnant and breastfeeding teens: 3,000mg
  • Pregnant and breastfeeding adults: 2,500 mg

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References

Quick Facts

  • Calcium plays an important role in bone health
  • Milk, yogurt, and cheese are the main food sources of calcium in the US
  • Most calcium dietary supplements contain calcium in the carbonate or citrate form - the carbonate form is cheaper but is absorbed best when taken with food
  • Those with low levels of stomach acid bsorb calcium citrate more easily than calcium carbonate
  • Other forms of calcium in supplements include gluconate, lactate, and phosphate.
  • Many younger, under 18, and older, over 50, people do not get enough calcium from the foods they eat,
  • Over the long term, insufficient calcium consumption can lead to low bone mass (osteopenia) or increase the risk of osteoporosis and bone fractures.