Calcium, calcium and calcium! Your parents and dietician advised you to take sufficient of calcium as it is extremely important for our body. But how much do you know about calcium? Before reading on to find out the importance of calcium in our body and diet, you need to know a little about calcium.
Bear in mind that calcium is the commonest mineral in a human’s body while bones as well as teeth have approximately 99 percent of calcium in our body. Why does your parents and dietician nag you about the importance of taking calcium in your diet? This is because lack of calcium causes your body to take calcium from the bones in order to maintain calcium levels in the body. Hence, when the process happens constantly, osteoporosis can happen since our bones are no longer firm due to lack of calcium.
Basically, there are three types of calcium available in the market namely santhatic calcium, hurble calcium and nutrient high calcium. Nutrient high calcium can be found in Mongolian Cow’s spine and is rich in proteins amino acids, vitamins as well as several other micro elements. Years ago, some said that one shall not consume too much santhatic calcium as it could lead to kidney stones but the rumours were dismissed later due to lack of scientific support.
As mentioned earlier, lack of calcium in our body will soon lead to osteoporosis. When a person grows, their bones formed and reformed from time to time. If the body detects low levels of calcium in our body, it will take up calcium from the bones thus, it leads to osteoporosis.
Osteoporosis is a silent disease that causes bones prone to fracture and the major reason behind the disease is lack of calcium. Hence, one should always ensure the level of calcium in the body is sufficient by starting from a diet of drinking milk daily.
Importance and benefits of calcium
Remember to include calcium as part of your daily diet. The question that is playing in your mind – What are the benefits and importance of calcium in the body? is clarified here. Firstly, calcium ensures healthy skeletal function particularly for those above the age of 50. Calcium play important role in heart muscle function and cardiovascular health.
In addition to that, calcium helps to prevent bone loss. Bone loss or more commonly known as osteoporosis (mentioned earlier) actually begins in childhood and throughout the life. Therefore, it is crucially important to take adequate calcium in daily diet. Major newspaper reports showed that bone loss among women happens during the first few years after menopause. The only preventive method is to take adequate calcium since childhood.
Do you know calcium helps to decrease the risk of colon cancer as well? Studies revealed that individuals can lower the risk of getting colon cancer by eating lots of fruits and vegetables as well as stay active all the time. Studies in The New England Journal of Medicine also disclosed another preventive method to reduce the risk of colon cancer – take supplemental calcium and folate. Thus, in order to live a life of cancer-free, do remember to include calcium in your daily diet.
High blood pressure or also known as hypertension is dangerous as there are usually no warning signs or symptoms. Hence, it is advisable to have your blood pressure measured on a regular basis. Besides exercising regularly, reducing salt intake and limiting alcohol intake, doctors also suggest individuals to take dietary supplements (calcium) to prevent hypertension.
Statistics showed those with low calcium level have high rates of hypertension. Even though there are currently no scientific studies to support the statement, it is still important to take adequate amount of calcium – adults between the ages of 19 and 50 must consume 1,000 milligrams daily while those who are over 50 including pregnant women must take 1,200 milligrams daily.
Calcium also helps to prevent pre-eclampsia during pregnancy. Pre-eclampsia is a problem that increases high blood pressure and occurs in some women especially during the second half of pregnancy. While there is no cure for the problem except for delivery of the baby, you can control pre-eclampsia by taking adequate sources of calcium from dairy food.
All in all, calcium is needed for practically all body functions such as cell division, hormone production and enzyme activity. It helps to regulate and balance pH before bringing required nutrients to cell membrane. Lastly, do remember that calcium is essential to build strong bones and healthy teeth.
Taking calcium excessively
One should not take too much of calcium as it is bad for your health. It is good enough to consume the recommended amount. But why is it bad if you consume too much of calcium? The process begins when you take in calcium, the excess lost through the urine. Hence, it causes excessive urinary and excretion that will eventually lead to kidney stones. Excess calcium accumulates up in the kidneys and the combination of other waste products lead to formation of kidney stones.
Besides that, a report issued by Journal of the American College of Cardiology reveals that high levels of calcium can increase the risk of heart attacks. The research headed by DR Paolo Raggi from Tulane University School of Medicine in New Orleans found that those who experienced myocardial infarction or coronary death during the study have higher level of calcium in their body.
Food Based Sources of Calcium
Some of the food based sources of calcium available in supermarket and hypermarket are dairy products such as yogurt, ice cream, ice milk, cheese, buttermilk and chocolate. While butter, cream cheese, cream and whipped cream contain calcium, those are not good sources of calcium as it contain mostly fat.
The best time to consume calcium
Since there are various kind of calcium supplements in the market, you need to know the best absorption rates for each product by studying the ingredients in the supplement. Calcium-rich tablets that contain calcium citrate or calcium carbonate as well as other vitamins and minerals is best consume before or after meals. However, for calcium carbonate, since it helps to reduce acidity in your stomach, it is best to take it after meals.
Meanwhile, for proper absorption of calcium in your bloodstream, take the nutritional supplements including those with calcium right after meals. It helps to reduce side effects especially for sensitive stomach walls. For pregnant women, it is extremely important to maintain a healthy lifestyle including exercising regularly to enable better absorption of calcium.
Researchers said one can only take less than 500 mg of calcium during one meal. And studies revealed the best time over the course of the day to consume calcium – right before you go to bed.
Influence of other food on calcium
Researchers found that diets with high proteins (animal proteins) may lead to losses of calcium in urine. Hence, it increases fracture risk. This discovery is extremely important particularly for those with low calcium intakes as it affects their health. Another research states higher protein is needed to decrease fracture risk and enhance bone density.
In addition to protein, studies found that sodium increase calcium losses between 5 and 10 mg for every gram of salt eaten. Hence, the best preventive method is to decrease sodium intake to lower calcium losses.