Calcium Supplements: Do You Really Need Them?
When talking about calcium, do you automatically think about bones? You are not wrong. In fact, about 99% of the calcium in your body is stored in your teeth and bones. Calcium is one of the most important minerals that your body needs, especially your bones! But aside from this, calcium does a lot more, including muscle contraction, blood clotting, and keep your heart beating.
Despite these functions, our body cannot make its own calcium. Hence, external sources of calcium in our diet and even calcium supplements are needed. In this article, we will explore everything you need to know regarding calcium supplements and their health benefits and risks so that you know if you really need these!
What You Need To Know About Calcium
Our body needs to obtain and process different kinds of vitamins and minerals to ensure that it remain healthy. Let us talk about calcium and its importance for you! Calcium is mainly associated with keeping your bones strong, healthy, and functioning normally.
Are you curious as to why your bones and teeth are strong? Calcium minerals are stored in your bones and teeth, making them very strong and resilient. As mentioned, calcium also helps your body in other ways. It can help your nerves carry impulses to and from your brain, help hormone release and aid your blood vessel in delivering blood.
As you can see, calcium works on more than just being there in your bones and teeth. Hence, it is essential to maintain a healthy level of calcium inside your body. Typically, dietary calcium levels in the body may be between 1,000 to 1,200 milligrams in adults. The upper limit of calcium levels in your body is at most 2,000 to 2,500 milligrams per day!
Now that you know the recommended levels for your body, it is essential to keep yourself replenished at all times. You might suffer from unwanted health problems if you neglect this. If you lack calcium, you can develop weaker bones. For children, this can be a problem since they may have stunted growth. In contrast, adults with low calcium can develop a very high risk of osteoporosis.
Health Benefits of Calcium Supplements
With all the concerns about calcium deficiency in your body, various experts have come together to help fill these needs. Calcium supplements are now readily available in the market. You can see these in your local groceries and pharmacies.
Calcium supplements can be sold in tablets, capsules, powders, or even in liquid form. Currently, there are two main forms of calcium supplements. These can either be calcium carbonate or calcium citrate. Of course, you must note the best form of supplementation based on your needs and preferences.
Some people opt to take calcium supplements because they want to make the most of its health benefits. Firstly, postmenopausal women suffer greatly from weak bone as they age. This happens because these women lose their bone mass along with their lessened estrogen level. With calcium supplementation, this problem can be significantly alleviated.
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Who Takes Calcium Supplements?
After going through the significance and health benefits of calcium supplements for your body, it is now essential to know who should take these.
Your body has its regulating mechanism. Calcium is used up in various metabolic and body processes. When your body detects an insufficient amount of calcium going around in your body, it tries to access the calcium stored in your bones. Consequently, the calcium from your bones gets drawn out so that it can be metabolized into useful processes. Unfortunately, this whole process makes your bones weaker and brittle due to the lessening calcium deposits in them!
Women are at a high risk of having osteoporosis. This is a condition where the bones become weaker and fragile. Osteoporosis is a condition that develops over a long period and can only be identified by the individual or the doctor when they already suffered from a bone fracture. Because of this, postmenopausal women are encouraged to take calcium supplements to prevent problems and complications of osteoporosis.
Individuals with certain health conditions may also need calcium supplements. Some conditions can make individuals less capable of absorbing calcium in their diet. If you have Crohn’s disease, inflammatory bowel disease, or are undertaking corticosteroids, you can be a candidate for taking calcium supplements.
What About Natural Sources of Calcium?
Usually, the food that you might be eating now is filled with calcium! Dietary calcium intake typically produces the adequate amount of calcium needed by your body to remain healthy and functioning. For instance, dairy products, leafy vegetables, tofu, beans, and calcium-filled beverages like milk are possible sources of your much-needed calcium.
Unfortunately, not all people can eat all these calcium-filled food and beverages. Some individuals cannot reach the recommended amount of calcium with their diet alone. An alternative to meet your body’s calcium demands can include taking these calcium supplements.
Speaking of diet, there are also instances where your current diet does not favor adequate calcium intake. This would be the case if you are vegan or has lactose intolerance. Also, if you eat a massive amount of protein and sodium, you risk making your body secrete your calcium rather than utilizing them. In these cases, you would need to consider calcium supplements.
Are There Risks With Taking Calcium Supplements?
Calcium supplements are not some kind of magic pill! Like other products, these supplements also present some risks.
Your body only needs around 1,000 to 1,200 milligrams of daily calcium. Taking more of this is not only wasteful, but it’s also risky. You can experience specific health problems such as constipation, calcium buildup, or hypercalcemia.
Certain medical studies also concluded that calcium supplements might increase your risk of having heart diseases like stroke or heart attack. However, this controversial conclusion needs more studies to confirm this correlation.
Taking calcium supplements boosts your body’s calcium levels. But more does not really mean that it’s better! Hypercalcemia is a condition where your blood has a very high amount of calcium. You may feel symptoms such as nausea, irritability, stomach pains, and even depression.
Very high calcium levels in your body are linked to the development of prostate cancer. Furthermore, your risk of getting problems with your kidneys also increases.
Calcium supplements can give you a calcium boost, especially if your body lacks adequate levels which keep you healthy. Most medical doctors give calcium supplements to individuals who may be developing osteoporosis and people who cannot get sufficient calcium in their daily diet.
There are numerous health benefits of taking calcium supplements. However, note that these are not yet fully verified and may need further medical research.
Consulting your doctor is the best way to know if calcium supplements are for you! Remember, calcium is best obtained from your diet. Too much of this stuff will do you more harm than good.
Article by Jilyannn Santos