Did you know: 99% of total body calcium is found in the bones and teeth. It’s not just restricted to women, but calcium is important to even men and required right from your birth.
What is Calcium?
Calcium is the most abundant mineral in the body and is necessary for bones and teeth to strengthen and grow. Calcium also plays a vital role in muscle contraction, the nervous system, and the circulatory system. Adequate calcium in a healthy diet throughout life may reduce the risk of osteoporosis
Who may be at risk of Calcium Deficiency?
The human body cannot produce calcium. When the body doesn’t get enough calcium for its needs, calcium is taken from bones.
- Lactose intolerance can lead to inadequate calcium intake.
- Vegan and Non-vegetarian diets can be limited in the amount of calcium they provide.
Sources of Calcium:
You can include below things to fulfill your Calcium requirements:
- Milk and milk products
- Soybeans or Soya milk
- Green Leafy Vegetables
- Nuts & Oilseeds
- Calcium Supplements
Health Benefits of Calcium
Essential for Bone Health
Among all the benefits of calcium, this is the most important benefit. Calcium is required right from the infant age for the growth, maintenance, and development of bone.
As calcium is one of the important constituents of bone, it is being studied that higher calcium intake may have a positive impact on bone density. Two main factors in the prevention of osteoporosis would be an improvement in the accrual of peak bone mass and slowing the loss of bone after reaching the peak. Supplementation with excellent calcium food sources becomes important to reach that highest bone mass before you hit your teen years. Yes, the prevention of osteoporosis should ideally start from this time. Importantly, one should take calcium supplementation, together with vitamin D supplementation and magnesium. Vitamin D helps in the absorption of Calcium and Magnesium helps in the activation of Vitamin D. (Watts NB. Et.al, 2010)
- Beneficial for Post-Menopausal Women
There was one of the major studies done to assess the benefit of Calcium supplementation on post-menopausal women. It was a randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled study performed on 1471 post-menopausal women. The study was conducted for long 5 years with regular follow-ups with the subjects. The subjects were receiving 1000mg of calcium a day and it actually showed positive results on increasing bone mass. Another major study suggested that a minimum dose of 1,200 mg/d calcium with 800 IU/d vitamin D was the best treatment for osteoporosis. (Tang BM et. al, 2007)
- Beneficial for Pregnant and Lactating Women
There are studies that confirm that Calcium supplementation during pregnancy or lactation helps improve the bone health of a fetus or mother. For to-be-mothers who are low in calcium, they may take calcium supplementation.
Beneficial for Men: While most of the studies focus on calcium levels and their impact on women’s health, there are few studies done on Men’s health too. Back in 2008, a study compared the effect of 2 dosages of calcium citrate. (600 mg/d, 1200mg/d and placebo) on bone mineral density among healthy men. The group receiving 1200mg/d showed improvements in bone mineral density. Thus, it was revealed that increasing dietary calcium intake significantly improved BMD in both men and women. (Noe EB. Et.al, 2015).
Calcium is responsible for muscle contraction. Calcium is released when the muscle is stimulated. This calcium later helps protein to carry out the work in muscles of contraction. The muscle goes back to the relaxation mode once the calcium is pushed back into the muscle.
Helps reduce Mortality from Cardiovascular Disease
By regulating the muscle contraction and regulating blood vessels, calcium becomes a very important mineral to maintain healthy blood pressure. There is evidence suggesting that cardiovascular disease might be protected by calcium supplementation. One of the studies revealed that dietary Calcium supplementation (600mg/d) can help reduce the risk of death from cardiovascular disease. In 2013, the World Health Organization published a strong recommendation that pregnant women should take Calcium supplements to prevent preeclampsia. Preeclampsia is a pregnancy complication characterized by high blood pressure.
A systematic review of Calcium supplementation and lipid metabolism reported that Calcium supplementation reduced LDL cholesterol and increased high-density lipoproteins (HDL) cholesterol (Chen C. et. al, 2017)
Just like your bone is made up of Calcium, your teeth also require a proper amount of Calcium. It keeps your jaw bone strong and sturdy, thus not allowing oral bacteria to strive. So, make sure your calcium intake is looked upon before you meet your dentist.
How much Calcium should you consume each day?
- Children between the age of 1 – 9 yrs: 600mg/d & 10 – 17yrs: 800mg/d
- Adult Men and Women: 600 mg/d
- Pregnant and Lactating Women: 1200 mg/d
Calcium from Supplements
It is always better to include Calcium in your diet through natural food sources, but in case you not able to match up your daily requirement due to various conditions, it is always good to consider Calcium supplements. Read our blog on understanding different types of Calcium supplements.