Apart from being an essential component of bone and teeth, calcium is also needed for other functions of the body, such as blood clotting and muscle contraction. Sometimes it is difficult to consume foods rich in calcium, but taking supplements that contain it prevents its deficiency in the body.
The most common forms are calcium carbonate, calcium citrate, calcium citrate malate, calcium gluconate, calcium phosphate and calcium lactate. The amount of elemental or pure calcium in the preparations varies depending on its form. By taking calcium carbonate (which, as an integral part of the antacid, makes it easier to digest food), you can get 40% of elemental calcium, and only 9% from calcium gluconate. The lower the calcium content, the more tablets you need to drink to meet your needs.
How does it work?
Most calcium in the body is in the bones and teeth, and it gives them structure and strength. A small amount that is in the blood helps to transfer the substance through the cell membrane, and is also important for the production of hormones and enzymes that regulate digestion and metabolism. Calcium is also needed for normal communication between nerve cells, blood clotting, wound healing and muscle contraction. The amount of calcium in the blood needed for life-important functions the body takes from the bones. If, over time, too much calcium is taken from them, the bones become hollow and fragile. By taking a daily required amount of calcium, you will keep its levels in blood normal and the excess will be stored in bones.
PREVENTION: osteoporosis is a condition in which bones become weaker, which increases the risk of hip and vertebral fractures, spinal deformity and height decrease. The main factor in preventing osteoporosis is taking a sufficient amount of calcium throughout your life. The organism most efficiently absorbs calcium and builds it into bones up to 35 years of age. However, studies suggest that even 65-year-olds who take calcium supplements and eat food rich in these minerals can maintain bone mineral density at an acceptable level and reduce the risk of bone fractures.
ADDITIONAL USEFUL EFFECTS: since it reduces the irritant effect of bile acids in the colon, calcium can reduce the risk of colon cancer. Research has shown that consuming a lot of calcium, fruit and vegetables can be effective in reducing blood pressure as much as some medications. Of course, people who suffer from high blood pressure should not take calcium supplements instead of drugs, unless their doctor recommends them.
Calcium can be effective in relieving premenstrual syndrome and menstrual pain. A study conducted at 497 women with PMS showed that daily 100 mg of calcium over three months relieves the symptoms much more than placebo.
The United Kingdom is the current value of the recommended daily dose of calcium 700 mg, both for men and women, and the same amount is recommended for pregnant women. In the United States the recommended daily intake is 1000 mg for both sexes, while for people aged between 50 and 70 years recommended dose is up to 1200 mg.
IF YOU TAKE TOO LITTLE: the lack of calcium over long periods of time can lead to bone abnormalities such as osteoporosis. Muscle cramps may appear if you have low levels of calcium in the blood.
IF YOU TAKE TOO MUCH: it seems that it is completely safe take up to 1500 mg of calcium daily. However, calcium can reduce the absorption of zinc, iron and magnesium. Taking very high doses of dietary supplements with calcium can lead to kidney stones. If flatulence or constipation occur when taking calcium carbonate preparations, you can replace them with calcium citrate.
How to take it?
DOSAGE: take 700 mg of calcium each day, either from food or dietary supplements. It is also desirable to take magnesium supplements at the same time, in a ratio of 2 : 1. Therefore, with 500 mg of calcium it is also necessary to take 250 mg of magnesium.
USE GUIDELINES: to make the absorption better, divide the calcium dose so that you do not take more than 600 mg at a time. Always take dietary supplements with food. Preparations containing calcium citrate or malate are more easily absorbed than those with calcium carbonate.
Dairy products (milk, yogurt and cheese) are rich in calcium. Orange juice enriched with calcium, preserved salmon and sardines (and its soft bones), broccoli and almonds are good calcium sources.
IMPORTANT: people suffering from thyroid or kidney disease should seek medical advice before using calcium preparations.