Calcium is required for vital cellular functions and is very essential for our overall health, especially when it comes to promoting bones and teeth. The human skeleton is composed of 206 bones that provide a framework for our whole body in order to help maintain shape and protect vital organs. Our bodies cannot produce calcium on its own, so it is very important to get it from our daily diet.
Moreover, our bones also function as a site for blood cell formation and storage for minerals and nutrients that our body needs. But, always remember that it should go together with a balanced supply of magnesium and Vitamin D because these nutrients are significant in the proper absorption of calcium. Vitamin D actually helps the body absorb calcium from food in the intestine. If you are deficient in Vitamin D and magnesium, your daily consumption of calcium might go to waste.
Read and know how very essential calcium is and why we should need to consume this major mineral and include it on our daily diet, in order for us to achieve optimal bone health and healthy living.
Origin and History
Records show that in the year 1808, Cornish inventor and chemist Sir Humphry Davy was the first person who isolated metallic calcium through electrolysis of a mixture of lime (CaO) and mercuric oxide (HgO). The term calcium has been derived from the Latin word 'calx' which means lime.
Calcium compounds are widely used since ancient times such as limestone which is used as a building material and an essential part of concrete. Lime also produces an intense light when exposed to an oxyhydrogen flame. During the 1800s, it was actually used to light up theatres, that is why actors were literally basked in the limelight.
Calcium is a chemical element that has the symbol of Ca and an atomic number of 20.
About 99% of the calcium content in your body is stored in your teeth and bones that makes them strong and healthy.
The other 1% helps with the proper functioning of your muscles and allowing nerves to carry messages between the brain and body parts.
Our bodies contain more calcium than any other mineral. It is also the fifth most abundant element in our body that is next to oxygen, carbon, hydrogen and nitrogen.
Calcium does not occur in its pure elemental state in nature, but it exists in compounds and various minerals such as limestone (calcium carbonate) and fluorite (calcium fluoride).
Calcium deficiency or hypocalcemia occurs when you have low levels of calcium in the blood which might cause different symptoms that might affect your daily way of life. Also, complications of the disease can be life-threatening, so early prevention is very important. Here are some of the following symptoms:
tooth decay and other dental problems
muscle tension of muscle spasms
bone fractures and bone disease
painful premenstrual syndrome
high blood pressure
1. Bone Health.Daily calcium intake is very essential for your bones, joints and tendons as it slows the pace of bone loss and joint injuries as you get older. Moreover, it helps us to keep moving and supports bone density that helps prevent different forms of arthritis and bone diseases such as osteoporosis, rickets and osteopenia.
2. Women's Health. Low calcium levels have been linked to severe (premenstrual syndrome) PMS. It can effectively reduce symptoms of PMS as well as help women who are in their menopausal stage, wherein it can lead to bone loss, so high levels of the mineral are needed in the prevention of osteoporosis and retention of bone strength.
3. Lowers Blood Pressure.Essential for healthy blood pressure for it helps blood vessels to relax and tighten when they need to. Studies also show that increased intake is beneficial for reducing high blood pressure when your heart beats or at rest which can be very helpful for the prevention of hypertension-related diseases.
4. Heart Health.Help strengthen your cardiac muscles where it is needed for your cardiac muscles to relax and contract properly. It actually lowers the risk of heart disease, keeps your muscles, nerves and blood vessels working rightly. There are also studies in which low levels of the mineral might lead to a sudden cardiac arrest.
5. Gut Health. Calcium supplements are antacid and can be used to neutralize stomach acidity. Moreover, it can also help relieve acid reflux, upset stomach, heartburn and indigestion. Studies also prove that it can reduce your risk of developing colon cancer. Just make sure that supplements should be taken with food in order for it to work well.
6. Dental Health. Aside from bones, the majority of calcium can be found in your teeth that makes it stronger and healthy. Therefore, if you are deficient, it may affect your overall dental health where tooth decay or tooth plaque might form and it may also lead to early loss of teeth and other dental problems that can affect your smile.
7. Weight Loss Management. There are studies that prove calcium may assist in effective weight loss to those individuals who are overweight. Taking supplements will not develop unhealthy and harmful weight loss if you already have a healthy weight. Also, it helps boosts your metabolism that prompt your bodies to burn fat.
8. Muscle Support.It is very necessary to muscular function and it enables your muscles to move for it helps regulate muscle contractions and muscle cramps. If your blood calcium decline, your body will automatically take the calcium from your bones, that is why you should always include calcium-rich food sources on your diet.
9. Nervous System Health.Help with the proper functioning of your nervous system and is needed every time a nerve stimulates. It also prevents your nervous tissues from having any injuries and help in releasing free radicals. Also, it helps to signal communication in your central nervous system and regulate responses to injury.
10. Kidney Health.Researches show that the mineral is essential to prevent chronic kidney disease. Little intake in your daily diet might increase your oxalate levels that develop kidney stones. You can get your daily supply of calcium from natural sources like dairy products but if you are lactose intolerant you can also get it from non-dairy sources.
Calcium can also be found in different natural food sources. Here are some of the following dietary sources that can provide you with your daily intake of the mineral:
Vegetables (cress, broccoli, kale, spinach, okra, bok choy)
Legumes (white beans, chickpeas, red beans, green beans)
Seafood (canned sardines, salmon and shrimp)
Dairy foods and products (milk, cheese, yoghurt)
Fruits (dried figs, currant, orange, raisins)
Seeds (sesame, sunflower, poppy, chia)
Nuts (almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts)
Others (e.g., eggs, tofu, seaweed)
Types of Calcium Supplements
When you are looking for calcium supplements, you need to take consider the actual amount of calcium you are taking, what prescriptions you are taking for it may cause interactions and serious side effects. It is still best to consult your healthcare professional before you start taking any supplements.
Calcium supplements contain different kinds of calcium compounds and each of them also has varying amounts of the mineral calcium. The common calcium supplements are the following:
Calcium carbonate. The cheapest and commonly available calcium supplement in the market. It is usually used as an antacid and contains 40 percent elemental calcium. It is also used for the treatment and prevention of calcium deficiency among individuals who have osteoporosis, osteomalacia and rickets.
Calcium citrate. Contains 21 percent elemental calcium and can be taken with or without food which can be useful for individuals with absorption disorders and inflammatory bowel disease. Also, used as an antacid and for the treatment and prevention of calcium-related diseases.
Calcium lactate. Has 13 percent elemental calcium. It can contribute to the prevention of postmenopausal osteoporosis as well as the prevention and treatment of negative calcium balance. It also moderates nerve and muscle performance and allows normal cardiac function.
Calcium gluconate. Contains 9 percent elemental calcium. It helps prevent and decrease the rate of bone loss. Also, used for the treatment and prevention of hypocalcemia and tetany or intermittent muscular spasms. It helps prevent and decrease the rate of bone loss.
Dosage and Duration
Keep in mind that you should always read the label of any products before use. The recommended average daily intake is 1,000 mg of calcium per day for most adults, while women who are over 50 and elderly people who are 70 should get 1,200 mg per day. But, it also depends on your healthcare professional medical advice about your needs.
Also, be mindful that your calcium and Vitamin D intake should be balanced in order to gain the health benefits you need because deficiency on either of the two might develop higher risks of having diseases like osteomalacia and rickets. You can also take vitamin D supplements, but there are supplements available on the market that contain both calcium and vitamin D.
Children 6 to 12 years. Take half or 1 tablet per day with meals or as prescribed by a medical professional.
For Adults. Take 1 to 2 tablets daily with meals or as prescribed by your healthcare practitioner. If symptoms persist consult your pharmacist or healthcare practitioner.
Precautions and Side Effects
Children and Pregnant Women. Keep out of reach of children. If not properly administered, it can lead to adverse side effects. Make sure to consult first your healthcare provider before taking any supplements or medications, this would help to prevent any overdose and serious side effects.
Hypothyroidism. Calcium can interfere with your medications regarding thyroid problems such as hypothyroidism. It can interfere with thyroid hormone replacement treatment. You can take your thyroid medications like levothyroxine several hours before or after taking dietary supplements by at least 4 hours.
Smoking. If you are a smoker and you want to have a good supply of calcium, better stop smoking now before taking supplements as smoking reduces your body's absorption of calcium. Smoking can also reduce your blood supply to the bones and other body tissues.
Overdose. Excessive consumption can lead to very serious side effects and can be life-threatening. Overdose of the mineral has been linked to the formation of kidney stones and artery calcification where calcium is formed in the arteries that can narrow your blood vessels and might lead to the development of heart disease.