What do you need to maintain strong bones in your body? The answer is, undoubtedly, Calcium. It is an essential mineral for our body, especially for our bone health. In a human body, calcium is stored in bones and teeth to support their structure and solidity. Also, it is highly useful to carry out many other important bodily functions. The muscles in our body need calcium for proper movement. The nerves which carry out the messages between the brain and every other body part also need calcium. Additionally, calcium is also essential for the blood vessels, so that blood can easily be moved throughout the body.
Benefits of Calcium
There are vast benefits of calcium for your body. Above are the functions and roles of calcium. Now below I’m discussing the essential benefits of calcium:
- Being an ingredient in many antacids, doctors recommend calcium to control high levels of magnesium, phosphorus and potassium in the blood. Also, calcium is useful in controlling diabetes and high blood pressure.
- The symptoms of PMS aka premenstrual syndrome, such as: acne, tender breasts, bloating, tiredness, irritability, etc. can be reduced with the help of calcium.
- It also plays an important role in reducing the high risk of certain cancer types. For example: premenopausal women should take calcium with along Vitamin D in order to be protected against breast cancer.
- The obsessed people should take calcium as it is helpful for weight loss.
Common Calcium Deficiencies
Where calcium plays a vital role for being healthy, on the other hand the risk of developing diseases is increased when you don’t get appropriate amount of calcium. The common deficiencies due to lack of calcium include osteoporosis, osteopenia and hypocalcaemia. Other common symptoms of calcium deficiency are muscle cramps, insomnia, tooth decay, poor bone density and weak and brittle nails. In order to avoid such deficiencies, make sure you body is getting enough calcium, through either natural food sources or dietary supplements.
How to Get Calcium?
Human body is not able to produce calcium by itself. Like other essential nutrients, calcium can also be obtained from the regular diet you eat. Though calcium supplement may also be an option, but it should only be taken if your body is not getting sufficient amount of calcium through your regular diet.
Calcium can easily be found in many types of food. To get appropriate amount of calcium, make sure your diet contains a variety of food items which includes:
- Dairy products, such as: milk, yogurt, cheese, etc. are one of the most common food sources of calcium.
- Green vegetables like kale, broccoli, Chinese cabbage, etc. are fine sources of calcium.
- The animal sources of calcium include fish with soft bones, such as: canned sardines and salmon.
Though most grains including unfortified cereals are not rich in calcium, but can provide sufficient calcium to your body if taken in large amounts. Also, calcium is available is some breakfast cereals, rice beverages, tofu and fruit juices.
Is Calcium Harmful?
Though calcium has no harmful effects on your body, but sometimes getting too much calcium may cause constipation. Sometimes it may also cause interference with the absorption of iron and zinc. If you are an adult, consuming too much calcium through supplement may increase the risk of kidney stones. Prostate cancer and heart disease are also caused due to over consumption of calcium.
How Much Calcium Do You Need?
The amount of calcium needed by your body each day simply depends on your age and gender. The adequate intake for calcium has set by the Institute of Medicine, is given below:
- Infants of age between 0 to 6 months and 7 to 12 months need 210 mg/day and 270 mg/day respectively.
- Children of age between 1 to 3 years and 4 to 8 years need 700 mg/day and 1000 mg/day respectively.
- Adolescents of age between 9 to 18 years need more calcium than any other age group. The recommended dietary intake is 1300 mg/day.
- Adults of age between 19 to 50 years need 1000 mg/day.
It’s enough to keep your bones healthy if you are getting sufficient amount of calcium. Sometimes doctors may recommend you higher doses, but never take calcium in excessive amount. Exceeding calcium amount may cause risk of severe health issues.
Cautious: During pregnancy or lactation period, women are recommended not to take extra calcium.
Calcium Dietary Supplement
According to the federal government’s Dietary Guidelines for Americans advises, “People should obtain all the essential nutrients from the natural food sources included in their regular diet”. The natural food sources contain all the nutrients including calcium which are essentially required for good health. But sometimes human body doesn’t get enough calcium from the natural food sources, and becomes prone to calcium deficiencies. In such situation, you must look for a dietary supplement that can help you meet the actual requirement of calcium for your body. Consult your doctor, pharmacist or any health care expert about your dietary supplement need. He/she may better assist you in choosing the best dietary supplement.
There are many multivitamin-mineral supplements available in the market from which you can obtain extra calcium. Your body needs proper amount of Vitamin D in order to absorb calcium. In these days, dietary supplements which contain calcium with Vitamin D are also available in the market. Generally, calcium dietary supplements are available in two forms: carbonate and citrate. If we talk about calcium carbonate, it’s low expensive than calcium citrate. Such form of calcium can be absorbed when taken with food. The antacid products contain good amount of calcium carbonate. On the other hand, calcium citrate is an expensive form of dietary supplement. It can easily be absorbed on an empty or a full stomach if the person has low level of stomach acids.
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