The mineral calcium has long been associated with healthy bones and teeth. More than 99 percent of our teeth and bones contains calcium. What is less known is that calcium is also an essential ingredient in the working of the nerves, heart, and the blood-clotting system.
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Calcium supplements benefit:
• People with low calcium levels and low bone density
• Those who need to reverse high potassium levels
• Those who need an antacid for heartburn
• Pregnant women, by improving the bone density of the fetus
• People with kidney disease, who need to reduce their phosphate levels
• People with osteoporosis (weak bones)
• Those who have an insufficient calcium intake in their diet
• Women with postmenstrual syndrome, by preventing mood swings, bloating, pain, and food craving
• People on steroids, by reducing bone loss
• People with kidney failure, by reducing thyroid levels
• Elderly, by reducing tooth loss
• Children with rickets, by controlling bone softening
• People with osteomalacia (a painful softening of bones)
Calcium supplements are also known to reduce the risk of colorectal cancer. They reduce high blood pressure minimally and also help in maintaining weight, body fat, and cholesterol.
Calcium supplements, however, have mild side effects like belching and gas and are also linked with more serious side effects like heart attacks.
The level of calcium intake daily is based on age. For adults, 1,000 to 1,300 milligrams of calcium supplements is the daily recommended dose. Doses above this may increase the risk of heart attacks.
Calcium supplements interact with different medications, so it is important to check with your doctor before taking them. Blood tests are advisable before starting calcium supplements to ensure that you need the supplements and that other factors are in the normal range and will not be affected by the supplements.
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Remember that taking vitamin D along with calcium supplements increases the absorption of calcium. Caffeine, whether from coffee or cola drinks, in excess of 300 milligrams is linked to increased bone loss in the elderly since caffeine removes calcium from the body. Food containing sodium deteriorates calcium levels in the body and fibrous food eaten within two hours of taking calcium supplements interferes with calcium absorption. Calcium supplements may decrease the absorption of dietary iron and magnesium. Therefore, it is important to take calcium supplements at bedtime, instead of with meals, to avoid reducing the absorption of iron.
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