Calcium plays an essential role in maintaining the optimum bone health in the body, and although the best way to take in the calcium is through your diet, many people also consider the option of taking calcium supplements when their diet falls less. However, before you start taking these supplements, you should at least be aware of the pros and cons as well as the choice of supplements.
Before diving into the dangerous part of how much is enough? Let’s take a look at the universal benefits of the calcium.
It’s a known fact that your body requires calcium to not only build but also helps in maintaining healthy bones. 99% and above calcium are stored in bones and teeth. Besides that, your nerves and heart muscles also need a good amount of calcium to function well.
Calcium, when taken with Vitamin D, have more health benefits such as protection against diabetes, cancer, blood pressure. Calcium helps in sending nerve signals and release hormones such as insulin and helps regulate the blood vessels and muscles contraction and dilation.
Therefore, it is so important for your body that in case your body does not receive the recommended calcium from your diet, it will start taking calcium from teeth and skeleton to use on other parts of the body, thereby weakening the bones.
So how much calcium you require each day?
According to the Institute of Medicine, the current calcium recommendation as per the age is as follows:
- Women 50 and below: 1000 mg daily
- Men 70 and below: 1000 mg daily
- Women above 50: 1200 mg daily
- Men above 70: 1200 mg daily
The maximum cap for daily intake of calcium is 2500 mg for adults up to the age of 50 and 2000 mg for adults above 50. In a routine, it is quite possible to get the recommended amount of calcium through the diet, including the food items such as leafy greens, beans, nuts, dairy products, and tofu.
However, as stated before, those who don’t receive calcium-containing food can consider taking calcium supplements. This article will guide you through the basics of calcium supplements, who all should take them, benefits, and potential risks attached to taking these supplements.
Who and When Should You Take Supplements?
Whenever your intake of calcium is not sufficient, your body will start removing calcium from bones, resulting in weakness, and causing osteoporosis. Women are more prone to getting osteoporosis, and therefore, doctors recommend calcium supplements, especially when they reach menopause.
The time when you can consider taking calcium supplements are:
- While following a vegan diet
- If you have high sodium and high protein diet, which can lead to more calcium excretion.
- If you have any health issues that can limit your body to absorb calcium like inflammatory bowel and Crohn’s disease.
- If you have osteoporosis
- If treated with corticosteroids for a long time.
Calcium Supplements: Health Benefits
There are several benefits of calcium supplements to your health
- Help to prevent bone loss among women post menopause
Post the onset of menopause, and women start losing bone mass because of the low level of estrogen. That’s where the calcium supplements can help as various studies have shown that giving 1000 mg of calcium supplements to women post-menopause can reduce the loss of bone by 1 to 2%. This effect can be well seen among women with less calcium intake and within the initial two years of using the supplements.
Various studies have shown the relation between low intake of calcium with higher BMI ( body mass index) and also the higher body fat percentage.
In 2016, a study showed the effect of taking 600 mg of calcium supplements among college students.
The study confirmed that students with lower calcium intake faced issues with obesity and overweight. Those who were given 600 mg of supplements along with Vitamin D of 125IUs lost body fat under a restricted-calorie diet than the students who did not get the supplement. Therefore, it is recommended to take calcium along with Vitamin D for better absorption in the body.
As per the large study, calcium present in the supplements and dairy products may lower your risk of colon cancer.
Various studies have indicated that the intake of calcium supplements can help improve your metabolic markers along with vitamin D intake.
In one of the medical studies from 2016, pregnant women took calcium supplements along with vitamin D. The final observation confirmed the improvement in the metabolic markers.
Another research stated that children born to the women who were on a calcium supplement had lower BP at the age of seven, whereas the children born to moms who didn’t take the supplements.
How risky are Calcium supplements?
Even with multiple health benefits, calcium supplements are not for all. In case you have specific health issues that can cause an excess of calcium in the bloodstream such as hypercalcemia, you need to avoid taking these supplements. There’s no definitive reasoning, but there have been speculations connecting heart disease and calcium supplements.
Likewise, calcium supplements have been associated with prostate cancer too. Different studies have shared that high intake of calcium from supplements and dairy products may cause a high risk of prostate cancer. Therefore, you must avoid any excessive absorption of calcium and consult your doctor about what’s right and what’s not.
Points to consider for the intake of calcium supplements
While taking calcium supplements, always consider these important factors.
Remember the term elemental calcium, because that’s the key. It’s the total amount of calcium in a given supplement. The actual amount is what the body absorbs for health benefits like bone growth. Make sure you note down the serving amount while determining the total calcium per serving.
Calcium supplements are known to cause only a few side effects, including minor issues like bloating, and constipation. You can try different brands and types of supplements to find the most tolerable one for your body requirements. You can learn more about various supplements for different health issues at different sources such as health blog, mbsf.org, healthline.com, and many other online resources.
Calcium supplements also interact with other medications, including thyroid hormone synthetics, medications related to blood pressure, antibiotics, and bisphosphonates. Always consult your doctor about the interactions of your prescriptions with calcium supplements to avoid any possible complications.
- Form & Absorbability
The calcium supplements come in different forms, including capsules, tablets, powders, and chews. Depending on your convenience, you can pick any sort of the supplement. Also, your body should be able to absorb the calcium. For example, calcium citrate is absorbed well by the body.
To conclude, it’s safe to say that dietary calcium is safe as long as your consumption is balanced with your nutritional requirements. Since more isn’t better, avoid taking calcium-fortified foods and calcium supplements at the same time.
Monitor your total calcium intake and read the labels on your supplements to understand the total amount of calcium intake in a day. Also, always let your doctor know about your intake of supplements during the regular health checkup, so they can check and see if everything is well balanced.