The importance of calcium supplements and how you choose the right one
- The importance of calcium
- Sources of calcium
- Is it alright to take Vitamin D and calcium?
- Health impact of calcium deficiency
- What are calcium supplements?
- Osteoporosis prevention
Calcium is an essential nutrient in our bodies that maintains the health and strength of our bones. It plays a crucial role in the development of muscle movement and cardiovascular function as well as maintains other bodily functions.
Today, we’ll discuss the importance of calcium supplements and how to choose the right one for your overall body health.
The importance of calcium
The health benefits of calcium have been proven over and over again by medical research. According to Medical News Today, the main benefits of calcium is in helping children develop strong bones and teeth. This, in turn, contributes to their overall growth.
For older women who are going through menopause (a condition that can cause loss of bone density), taking calcium can help to slow down the loss of bone density that may potentially cause osteoporosis.
Sources of calcium
There are many foods that contain sources of calcium such as milk, tofu, soy milk, cheese, green leafy vegetables like broccoli as well as yogurt.
Milk and soybean are rich in calcium and many medical sources have recommended them to be part of an individual's breakfast.
Calcium supplements are also recommended for people who have calcium deficiency or are unable to derive calcium from their diet.
Is it alright to take Vitamin D and calcium?
Vitamin D is only found in a few types of food. It is also a hormone and known as a fat-soluble vitamin. Vitamin D is mostly found in a human body’s fatty tissue. Therefore, people get vitamin D mostly by exposing their skin to sunlight.
It is a nutrient that can be produced by the human body itself. However, some can still suffer from a lack of Vitamin D due to a few conditions. Conditions such as the lack of exposure to sunlight, having dark skin, being overweight and having certain medical conditions may affect the sufficiency of Vitamin D in the body.
Medical conditions such as diseases that affect the digestive system may interfere in the absorption of Vitamin D as well.
However, calcium is a mineral and it is normally found. Individuals can also purchase their calcium supplements at the pharmacy.
Taking Vitamin D and calcium is alright as the intake for both Vitamin D and calcium complements each other.
Health impact of calcium deficiency
Research has been published about the health impact of calcium deficiency. According to the Healthline website, people suffering from calcium deficiency in the early stages won't suffer from any symptoms generally. However, symptoms may develop when the condition progresses.
Calcium deficiency will result in confusion or memory loss, muscle spasms, numbness and tingling in the hands, feet and face, depression, hallucinations, muscle cramps, weak and brittle bones and the easy fracturing of the bones.
Also, calcium deficiency can affect other parts of the body. If you observe slower growth of hair, easily fractured nails and thin skin, it may be a sign of calcium deficiency.
Furthermore, calcium deficiency may cause seizures because calcium plays an important role in being a neurotransmitter release and in muscle contractions.
What are calcium supplements?
There are multiple variants of calcium supplements as people become more health conscious. Health policy makers also play an important role in encouraging people to prevent and avoid contracting diseases and to lead a healthy lifestyle.
Calcium supplements are used in a number of situations. They are more commonly used when you do not get enough calcium from your natural diet.
Types of calcium supplements
They are two types of supplements that can be found in pharmacies - calcium carbonate and calcium citrate.
These two are the optimum form of supplements. Calcium carbonate supplements dissolve better in an acid environment, therefore, they should be taken with a meal.
Calcium citrate, on the other hand, can be taken at any time because they do not need acid to dissolve.
Both types of supplements are suitable to be taken for anyone, provided it’s taken at the right dosage.
When are calcium supplements needed?
People can consider taking calcium supplements if they are following a vegan diet and do not normally consume dairy products. In addition to that, people who are on a high sodium or high protein diet may excrete calcium which may further cause a deficiency.
Other people that can consider taking calcium supplements are people with medical conditions such as Crohn disease or inflammatory bowel disease. These diseases limit the body’s absorption of calcium.
Individuals with a long-term corticosteroid problem and those with osteoporosis should also consider taking the supplement.
Do not fear as osteoporosis is preventable. The main way one can prevent osteoporosis is via ensuring enough calcium is taken.
Of course, there are other ways as well which you can read about here.
Best form of calcium for osteoporosis prevention
As mentioned above, there are two types of calcium - calcium carbonate and calcium citrate.
It is always advisable to consult your doctor or local physician before consuming and supplements.
However, bear in mind that these supplements are dependent on what an individual's needs are. You have to consider factors like the amount of calcium needed before consuming anything.
How to choose the right calcium supplement for you?
There are many factors for you to consider when choosing the right calcium supplement for yourself. Here are a few factors:
Amount of calcium
Elemental calcium is the actual amount of calcium in the supplement. This is what your body absorbs for bone growth and to maintain other parts of the body. The label calcium supplement bottles are very helpful in determining how much calcium is in one serving.
For example, calcium carbonate has 40 percent elemental calcium. So 1250 milligrams (mg) of calcium carbonate contains 500 mg of elemental calcium. You need to be sure to note the serving size when determining how much calcium is in one serving.
Calcium supplements may cause a few side effects such as gas, constipation and bloating. Generally, calcium carbonate causes the most constipation. You may need to try a few different brands or types of calcium supplements to find which one your body tolerates best.
What prescriptions you take
Calcium supplements can interact with other medications like blood pressure medications, synthetic thyroid hormones, bisphosphonates, antibiotics and calcium channel blockers.
Depending on your medication, you may need to take the supplement with your meals or between meals.
You need to consult your doctor or pharmacist about possible interactions to find out which type of calcium supplement is best for you.
Quality and cost
Manufacturers are responsible for ensuring that supplements are safe to be consumed. Some companies have their products independently tested by the US Pharmacopeial Convention (USP), ConsumerLabs.com (CL) or NSF International (NSF).
Supplements that bear the USP, CL or NSF abbreviation meets industry standards for quality, purity, potency, and tablet disintegration or dissolution.
Calcium supplements are available in many forms like tablets, capsules, chews, liquids and powders. If you don't like swallowing pills, you can take chewable or liquid calcium supplements.
The body must be able to absorb the calcium in order for the calcium to be effective. All varieties of calcium supplements are better absorbed when taken in small doses (500 mg or less) during mealtimes.
Calcium citrate is absorbed equally well when taken with or without food and is a form of calcium recommended for individuals with low stomach acid (more common in people over 50 or taking acid blockers), inflammatory bowel disease and other medical conditions.
What are the side effects of taking too much calcium supplements?
Many medical researchers have agreed that taking too much calcium supplements can cause side effects.
Side effects such as a higher blood level of calcium and milk-alkali syndrome, a condition that can cause renal stones, kidney failure and death are from taking too much calcium supplements.
Also, there is a concern that calcium supplements can increase risk of heart attack as well as being potentially linked to prostate cancer.
Calcium is an important nutrient that plays a huge role in maintaining health and it must be supplemented with Vitamin D. Particularly for women, calcium is important as women age to ensure bone density is maintained.
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