Why is Calcium Important?
- We know that calcium is needed for building bones, it keeps our bones and teeth strong.
- Calcium is also needed for blood clotting, nerves signaling, muscles contracting and the release of hormones.
- Low calcium levels may increase risk of kidney stones. Harvard Health
- “Up to 90 percent of peak bone mass is acquired by age 18 in girls and age 20 in boys, which makes youth the best time for your kids to “invest” in their bone health” . NIH
- Adolescents need calcium to keep up with their growing bones.
- Exercise is also important for building bone mass.
- As we get older our bones thin.
- Osteoporosis is a condition in which bones weaken and are more likely to fracture.
- You are more likely to develop osteoporosis if your calcium intake is too low.
- Other factors that increase your risk of osteoporosis include family history, small frame, lack of exercise, steroid medication, excessive drinking and menopause.
Calcium and weight loss
- Calcium may help with weight loss.
- “Although dairy products clearly help dieters achieve their goals, there have always been two key points to remember. The first is that calories count – they always have and they always will. Second is that the largest weight loss benefits of dairy consumption occur when it is used to correct inadequate intakes,” said Zemel. “For those who are already consuming adequate levels of dairy and calcium, no additional benefit is expected to result from consuming even more.”
How does smoking interfere with calcium?
- Smoking and caffeinated beverages interfere with calcium absorption and the ability of the body to use calcium.
- Smoking lowers estrogen levels in both men and women.
- Smoking after age 30 speeds up your loss of bone mass.
- Smokers are more likely to sustain fractures of the spine and hips.
Menopause and calcium
- Estrogen helps the bones hold calcium.
- After menopause, there is less estrogen.
- The lower estrogen levels will increase the risk for osteoporosis.
- The body needs vitamin D to absorb calcium.
Too much calcium may increase the risk of fracture.
- It was thought that if you took more calcium the risk of fracture would decrease.
- In 20005, two British studies showed that calcium did not prevent fractures.
- These studies were repeated.
- “In 2007, a Swiss and American team, including some researchers from Harvard, reported the results of a meta-analysis of over a dozen studies of calcium. They found no connection between high calcium intake, from either food or pills, and lower hip fracture risk. In fact, when they limited their analysis to four randomized clinical trials with separate results for hip fractures, they found that extra calcium increased the risk.” Harvard Health
- They are not sure why too much calcium seems to increase risk of fracture
- Calcium in large amounts may interfere with absorption of phosphorus, which is also crucial to maintaining bone strength.
- A well balanced diet is recommended over supplements.
- Look for the USP (United States Pharmacopeia) symbol.
- Take 500 mg at one time, more than that may not be absorbed-Reference National Osteoporosis Foundation.
- There are different types of calcium supplements.
- Calcium carbonate absorbs easier with stomach acid, it should be taken with food.
- Calcium citrate can be taken with or without food.Take calcium supplements with food.
- There is a concern that calcium supplements may increase your risk of heart disease and stroke. Reference
Ther Adv Drug Saf. 2013 Oct; 4(5): 199–210.
- Lactose intolerance occurs because there is not enough lactase which is an enzyme that helps break down lactose.
- Lactose is the sugar that is found in diary products.
- People with lactose intolerance may develop gas, cramps and diarrhea when eating diary products.
- People with lactose deficiency can drink and eat lactose free diary products.
- Medications can be taken to help digest the lactose.
Calcium in your diet
- Collard greens
- Black eyed peas
- Almond milk
Calcium fortified foods
These foods have had calcium added to the.
Adding calcium to your diet
- Add cheese to eggs, salads and sandwiches.
- Add beans to your soup and salads or use them to create side dishes.
- Cook collard greens as a side dish.
- Yogurt makes a great snack.
You can still help prevent bone loss by weight training. Here is a post on weight training benefits.