Calcium is an essential element within bones and teeth that helps maintain and protect their structural integrity. Foods rich in calcium include milk, dairy products, kale and broccoli. Calcium has been used as a treatment and prevention of low level calcium levels which includes osteoporosis, osteomalacia, and rickets. Moreover, it helps with muscle contraction and relaxation, blood clotting, and nerve impulse transmission. Calcium plays a role in hormone secretion and enzyme activation and helps maintain healthy blood pressure. Adults absorb roughly 30% of calcium ingested and tends to decline as we age because it is released by our body through sweat, skin cells, and waste so Calcium supplementation is needed for bones to rebuild properly and stay strong.
Calcium is categorized under Minerals.
It is also known as Ca^2+^, Ca, .
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Benefits and Effectiveness
What is Calcium?
Calcium is a mineral that is considered to be an important part of teeth and bones. The nerves, heart, as well as the blood-clotting system needs calcium in order to have a normal function. Calcium has been widely used because of its ability to prevent and treat calcium deficiency that leads to bone problems including osteoporosis (condition in which the bones become brittle and fragile from loss of tissue), osteomalacia (painful softening of bones), rickets (a condition in which the bones soften; typically occurs in children). Additionally, calcium can also treat other conditions such as leg cramps in pregnancy, PMS (premenstrual syndrome), pre-eclampsia (hypertension in pregnancy), as well as decreasing the risk of development of rectal and colon cancers.
Calcium acetate and calcium carbonate are used for decreasing phosphate levels in individuals who are suffering from kidney disease. Calcium carbonate is also used by some people as an antacid for “heartburn” or GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease). Some people utilize calcium to treat conditions such as hypertension, complications following surgery, Lyme disease (a bacterial infection you get from the bite of an infected tick), high cholesterol levels, as well as reducing the lead levels and fluoride levels in children.
Calcium has the ability to interact with various prescription medications, however, the effects can be sometimes minimized by taking calcium at a different time. The foods that contains high levels of calcium include dairy products and milk, broccoli and kale, as well as the calcium-enriched juices, canned fish with bones, mineral water, and soy products that have been processed with calcium.
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How does Calcium work?
Ninety-nine percent of the calcium in our body are found in our teeth and bones. The calcium in the bones can be utilized as a reserve that will be released into to the body if needed by our system. Calcium can also be found in muscles, blood, and other tissues. The absorption of calcium varies depending on gender, age, and race. Calcium in our body can be decreased through skin cells, sweat, and waste. As we age, the calcium levels in our body tends to decline. In addition, as women age, their estrogen levels decrease, thus, reducing the absorption of calcium.
Bones continue to rebuild and breakdown, and calcium is needed to regulate this process. Taking extra amounts of calcium can aid in proper rebuilding of bones and helping them to stay strong.
What are the benefits that Calcium provide?
- Osteoporosis: Oral administration of calcium is known to be effective in treating and preventing the development of osteoporosis and bone loss. Bone growth often occurs during the teenage years. The bone strength of women remains the same until the age of 30 to 40 years. After the age 40, bone loss commonly occurs at rates of 0.5 to 1 percent each year. As for men, bone loss typically occurs several decades later. The rate of bone loss highly depends on the person’s diet. In the United States, numerous people are suffering from osteoporosis. Calcium supplement can be helpful in reducing bone loss after the age of 40. Some research studies show that taking calcium for about 30 years after menopause could lead to a 50 percent overall reduction in the rate of bone loss, and a 10 percent improvement in bone strength.
- Osteoporosis due to long-term use of corticosteroids: Corticosteroids are often used by individuals who are suffering from inflammatory conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis. Long-term use of this drug could lead to the development of osteoporosis. Studies show that taking calcium combined with Vitamin D could reduce the chances of bone loss in individuals who are taking corticosteroids for long periods of time.
- Decreasing the symptoms associated with PMS (post-menstrual syndrome): Low dietary intake of calcium seems to have a link with the symptoms of post-menstrual syndrome. Having a calcium-rich diet could possibly prevent the occurrence of post-menstrual syndrome and significantly decrease bloating, mood swing, pain, and food cravings. Studies show that women who are consuming an average of 1,283 mg of calcium a day from food products seem to have a 30 percent lower risk of developing post-menstrual syndrome than those women who only consume an average of 529 mg of calcium a day. On the other hand, there is no enough evidence to prove the effectiveness of calcium supplements in preventing post-menstrual syndrome.
- Hyperparathyroidism (excessive activity of the parathyroid gland): Studies show that taking calcium by mouth could decrease the levels of parathyroid hormones in individuals who have very high levels of parathyroid hormone and are suffering from kidney failure.
- Increasing bone strength in fetuses: Calcium supplements are known to enhance the bone mineral density of the fetus in pregnant women who have low dietary levels of calcium. However, this does not seem to be helpful in women who have normal levels of calcium.
Does it have any negative effects?
When taken orally or when given intravenously (by IV) at appropriate levels, calcium appears to be safe for most individuals. However, calcium can also cause some minimal negative effects in the body. These are the following:
- Constipation and nausea
- An irregular heart rate
- Headache, weakness, drowsiness
- Bone and muscles pain
- Metallic taste in the mouth, or dry mouth
It is highly recommended that you seek medical help on the off chance that you notice these signs of allergic reaction: difficulty breathing, hives, swelling of the throat, lips, tongue, and face.
Immediately contact your physician if you happen to observe sign of excessive amounts of calcium in your body, such as:
- Increased urination and thirst
- Stomach ache, loss of appetite, and vomiting
- Confusion, and feeling of restlessness and tiredness
- Joint pain, muscle weakness and pain
Keep in mind that this is not yet a complete list of the adverse effects and a lot more may occur. Contact your physician or any qualified medical professional for medical advice about the adverse effects. You may report the adverse effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.
How much should you take?
- 1 to 3 years old: 700 mg per day
- 4 to 8 years old: 1,000 mg per day
- 9 to 13 years old: 1,300 mg per day
- 14 to 18 years old: 1,300 mg per day
- 19 to 30 years old: 1,000 mg per day
- 31 to 50 years old: 1,000 mg per day
- 51 to 70 years old: 1,000 mg per day
- 51 to 70 years old (Females): 1,200 mg per day
- 70 years old and above: 1,200 mg per day
- Pregnant or breast-feeding (14 to 18 years old): 1,300 mg per day
- Pregnant or breast-feeding (19 to 50 years old): 1,000 mg per day
Reviewer: Kathleen R. RN, PT
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Wiki Last Updated: 2016-02-12
The use of calcium supplements may produce minor side effects like belching or gas. Diets very high in calcium may increase the risk of prostate cancer.
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