For those who’re a girl of a sure age, while you consider calcium your thoughts would possibly wander to, “Bought Milk?” The well-known marketing campaign from the ‘90s eternally linked the concept of milk with sturdy bones and tooth. However why does milk assist provide you with sturdy bones or tooth? You possibly can thank the calcium. And that connection is right — however it’s hardly the entire story. Calcium, essentially the most considerable mineral in your physique, additionally impacts your coronary heart and different essential organs.
We had been inquisitive about calcium’s position within the well being of your whole physique, so we reached out to Isabel Smith, M.S., R.N., C.D.N., a registered dietitian and member of HealthyWomen’s Girls’s Well being Advisory Council.
What’s calcium and why do you want it?
Robust bones and tooth thrive on calcium. However extra than simply that, calcium is important for different each day, important features that go on behind the scenes: muscle contraction; nerve conduction; and the exercise of your coronary heart, blood and cells.
About 99% of calcium is saved in our bones, with the remaining 1% in blood, muscle and different tissues. Our physique is fairly savvy relating to monitoring the exact quantity of calcium it wants, transporting it away from the bones, which act considerably like a reservoir, then doling it out into the physique to take care of a gradual stream of calcium within the blood.
However there’s a catch: If there’s not sufficient calcium within the blood to attract from, the physique takes it out of your bones, Smith stated. Ideally, the calcium that’s “borrowed” from the bones might be changed at a later level. However this doesn’t at all times occur, and it could contribute to osteoporosis over time.
Postmenopausal ladies are notably vulnerable to calcium deficiency as a result of the lack of estrogen that happens with menopause reduces each the quantity of calcium your physique absorbs and the quantity of calcium your bones retain.
Ranges of calcium in your blood may be measured with a calcium blood check. Relatively than present the quantity of calcium in your bones — that’s the job of a bone density check or DEXA scan — a calcium blood check can verify for an excessive amount of or too little calcium in your blood and could be a useful indicator of your normal well being in addition to many medical circumstances, together with bone or thyroid illness, parathyroid problems, and kidney illness.
How a lot calcium do you want every day?
Most consultants agree that ladies over 50, whose our bodies usually take in much less calcium from meals, want 1,200 mg of calcium per day.
Calcium wants fluctuate, and never each girl requires the identical quantity of calcium. As an illustration, youthful ladies between ages 19 and 50 want 1,000 mg of calcium each day. For pregnant and lactating ladies, 1,000 mg per day is really useful.
Are you able to get an excessive amount of calcium?
If calcium is so good for you, does that imply extra is healthier?
You would possibly assume so, however the reply isn’t any.
Having an excessive amount of calcium in your blood may cause a situation referred to as hypercalcemia, which places you in danger for kidney stones, most cancers and constipation. There’s additionally analysis to recommend that for some folks, an excessive amount of calcium (particularly from dietary supplements) can accumulate within the blood vessels and will result in coronary heart issues. That’s why consultants advise ladies over 50 to not get greater than 2,000 mg each day from a mixture of meals and dietary supplements. The higher restrict for others is 2,500 mg a day.
It is essential to pay attention to sure medicines that may hold your physique from absorbing calcium properly. These medicines shouldn’t be taken similtaneously calcium dietary supplements:
- Iron dietary supplements
- Some antibiotics
- Thyroid medicine
- Bisphosphonates (remedy for osteoporosis)
- Sure seizure medicines
The best way to get calcium from meals
Since our physique can’t make calcium by itself, it will get what it wants by way of meals or dietary supplements containing calcium.
Milk isn’t the one meals that has a number of calcium. Others embody:
- Dairy merchandise, resembling yogurt and cheese
- Leafy greens (like kale)
- Winter squash
- Canned sardines and salmon (particularly with gentle edible bones)
- Almonds and almond butter
- Fortified meals resembling fruit juices and drinks, tofu, and cereals
Doable advantages of a calcium complement
Calcium is greatest absorbed while you get it by way of meals. “For those who plan your weight loss plan to get loads of calcium by way of meals, that may be sufficient in your wants,” Smith stated.
However meals doesn’t at all times provide you with sufficient calcium, and based on many nationwide diet surveys, most individuals aren’t getting sufficient. Why? Some folks, like vegans or those that are lactose illiberal, discover it robust to get sufficient calcium from meals. Identical goes for individuals who take corticosteroids on a long-term foundation; have sure bowel or digestive illnesses like celiac or inflammatory bowel illness, which may lower your physique’s skill to soak up calcium; or devour giant quantities of sodium or protein, which may take calcium out of your physique.
Two frequent types of calcium dietary supplements are calcium carbonate and calcium citrate. Calcium carbonate ought to be taken with a meal, because it wants abdomen acid to dissolve, whereas calcium citrate may be taken anytime.
If in case you have bother absorbing medicine or if you happen to take an iron complement or medicine for heartburn, then calcium citrate may be a more sensible choice for you.
Everybody taking calcium dietary supplements must pair it with vitamin D, which aids in calcium’s absorption. For folks as much as age 70, consultants suggest 600 IU (worldwide items) per day. After 70, it is best to enhance your consumption to 800 IU each day. The each day restrict, based on the Institute of Drugs, shouldn’t go above 4,000 IU.
Since larger doses of calcium take longer to soak up, medical consultants suggest not taking greater than 500 mg in a single dose. For those who require extra, wait no less than 4 hours earlier than taking the second dose.
Earlier than you flip to dietary supplements, be sure to know the quantity of calcium you’re getting out of your meals. “For those who devour 500 mg of calcium in your weight loss plan, chances are you’ll solely want one other 500 mg from a complement,” Smith stated. Calcium is listed on meals labels, which base the each day really useful worth on 1,200 mg of calcium. As a result of it may be complicated to calculate, you possibly can flip to a fast information, like this calcium calculator from the College of Alabama.
What else you have to learn about taking calcium
It’s essential to take into account that there are specific meals and medicines that may enhance your want for calcium. That’s as a result of they trigger your physique to launch extra calcium into your urine, or they decrease the flexibility of your intestine to soak up it. Some examples embody corticosteroids (like prednisone) and sodas containing phosphoric acid (like darkish colas). Extreme alcohol consumption also can intrude with calcium steadiness by interfering with the manufacturing of vitamin D, which is required for absorption.
There are advantages and dangers to taking calcium dietary supplements, stated Smith, who really useful discussing any choices to take dietary supplements together with your healthcare supplier. “When taking a complement, make sure to embody different vitamins, like D3, K2 and magnesium, which may all assist absorption and the way your physique makes use of the calcium.”
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