How much do you know about calcium – a mineral that is so essential in our lives and that you always hear about anywhere?
Table of Contents
What Is Calcium?
Calcium is the most abundant mineral found in our bodies and a basic nutrient for maintaining an optimal health at any age. Although the main role of calcium is strengthening the bones and teeth, there are also other benefits of the nutritional substance.
The Role of Calcium
Although many people associated calcium only with teeth and bones, in which it can be found in about 99% of their composition, it`s essential to keep in mind that actually this mineral can be found in all the organs of the human body – heart, blood, nerves, muscles, etc.
The calcium`s role in our organism is spread over several systems and organs, contributing in the functioning of several basic functions:
- It strengthens the immune system;
- It strengthens the teeth and bones;
- It supports the skeletal structure of the body;
- It helps in the absorption of the nutrients in the body;
- It contributes in the transport of the nutrients towards the organs (e.g. it transports iron to cell membranes);
- It contributes to the optimal functioning of the muscles;
- It helps in the good functioning of the central nervous system;
- It contributes in the brain development and activity;
- It regulates the blood clotting process;
- It prevents the risk for rectal, colon and prostate cancer;
- It regulates the pulse and heart rate and stabilizes blood pressure.
The Daily Recommended Dose of Calcium
The daily doses that are recommended differ depending on age, but also on certain particularities or changes in the physiological evolution of each person. For instance, small children need more calcium to grow, while women entering the menopause need additional calcium due to their risk of osteoporosis and hormonal changes.
Here are the daily recommended doses of calcium for each age. They can be reduced or supplemented, depending on the health state or doctor`s recommendations.
- 0-6 months – 200 mg;
- 7 months – 1 year – 260 mg;
- 1-3 years – 700 mg;
- 4-8 years – 1000 mg;
- 9-13 years – 1300 mg;
- 14-18 years – 1300 mg;
- 19-50 years – 1000 mg;
- 51-70 years (men) – 1000 mg;
- 51-70 years (women) – 1200 mg;
- Over 71 years – 1200 mg;
- Pregnant or nursing teens – 1300 mg;
- Pregnant or nursing women – 1000 mg.
Nutrition is the main calcium source at any age, but in special situations, the doses obtained from diets can be completed with dietary supplements. There are many foods rich in calcium that need to be found in the daily menu of each person:
- Dairy products (yogurt, milk, cheese);
- Green vegetables; – Read more!
- Fortified whole grains;
- Fish (salmon, sardines);
- Fortified drinks – mineral water, fruit juices;
- Oilseeds (pistachios, seeds, almonds, nuts).
Can I Take a Calcium Supplement while Pregnant?
If you are taking prenatal vitamins, you are perhaps already benefiting of at least 150 mg of calcium. If you feel you don`t get sufficient calcium from your regular diet, you could try to take a supplement that contains calcium, but remember that your body is only able to absorb up to 500 mg of calcium at a time. Keeping this in mind, you might have to take some calcium supplements in smaller doses, a few times per day. This type of supplements comes in distinct forms, most often calcium citrate or calcium carbonate.
Is It Safe to Take Calcium Carbonate during Pregnancy?
Calcium carbonate represents a dietary supplement that is generally used to increase the level of calcium in the organism Calcium carbonate may also be used as an antacid when relieving upset stomach, heartburn or acid indigestion. This form of calcium comes in distinct forms, including liquid, capsule, tablet or chewable tablet.
You always need to talk to your doctor before changing your medication, and this applies when considering taking calcium carbonate as well. However, calcium carbonate taking in recommended doses haven`t been associated with any risk while pregnant.
Lack of Calcium
Lack of calcium in the human organism can lead to the occurrence of serious issues. When the level of calcium in the body decreases under the normal limits is called hypocalcemia.
Some of the symptoms of this condition are:
- Lack of appetite: It may lead to decreased or lack of appetite, attracting fatigue. People who experience calcium deficiency usually have additional nutritional deficiencies, feel weak or tired or can get easily tired to small efforts.
- Behavioral disorders: Lack of calcium may cause various behavioral disorders, from anxiety and irritability to hallucinations or depression.
- Nervous disorders: This medical condition can manifest by tremor, drowsiness, palpitations, memory spindles, insomnia, decreased memory or attention, lipothymia, tingling in the feet, hands or fingers and numbness in the limbs.
- Muscle disorders: Calcium is a mineral that interferes in the process of muscle fiver contraction, the regulation of the membrane potential for heart muscle fibers, therefore preventing arrhythmias or tachycardia.
- Spasmophilia: Calcium deficiency may also cause disturbances until the occurrence of spasmophilia, very common among young women.
- Menstrual disorders: Women who experience this condition experience menstrual disorders by both disrupting the endocrine function of the genital organs as well as by affecting their functions. The woman experiences more pronounced bleeding that last longer, and the menstrual pains are more accentuated.
- Bone conditions: Calcium is involved in rickets (when children are concerned) or osteomalacia (when adults are concerned). Lack of calcium may lead to dystrophic bone formation and delays in bone development, incised stern, asymmetrical head, etc. The skeleton might experience reversible or irreversible deformities, may occur osteoporosis or predisposition to fractures.
- Hair, skin or nail health disorders: Calcium deficiency may lead to thickening or drying skin, as well as brittle nails that can easily exfoliate. It might also influence the health of the hair.
- Cardiac disorders: Calcium usually influences the heart rhythm and frequency. Therefore, people who experience this deficiency may accuse tachycardia, palpitations and arrhythmias.
Hypocalcemia is favored by a lot of factors related to health or lifestyle.
- Poor nutrition, rich in pastries;
- Chronic illnesses (kidneys, diabetes);
- Sugar, salt, alcohol or coffee excess;
- Drug abuse: birth control pills, laxatives;
- Hormonal disorders: thyroid gland disorders, menopause.
The main areas of the body affected by hypocalcemia are brain, bones, muscles and nerves, which are prone to a lot of serious illnesses. – Click this link!
Excess of Calcium
Hypercalcemia is a condition opposed to the one above, which is characterized by exceeding the normal levels of calcium in the blood. It`s caused mainly by hyperactivity of the parathyroid glands, calcium supplements, drug abuse or various medical conditions (cancer, inflammatory diseases).
The main complications of hypercalcemia are:
- Kidney stones;
- Kidney failure;
- Nervous system disorders;
- Arrhythmia (irregular pulse).
- When associated with magnesium, calcium induces sleep.
- People who consume large quantities of gaseous beverages may be affected by the reserves of calcium due to phosphoric acid that they contain; Phosphorus is a “destroyer” of calcium.
- Additionally to preventing osteoporosis, calcium supplements may relieve bad moods as well as menstrual pains associated to puberty.
- The effects of antibiotics might be altered by a simultaneous dose of calcium; it`s recommended that these 2 substances be administered at a distance of 3 hours.