When people think of calcium,bone health is usually the first thing that comes to mind, but calcium’s benefits go far beyond helping to build and maintain skeletal structure. A calcium-rich diet (including dairy, nuts, leafy greens and fish) helps to build and protect your bones.Calcium is a mineral that is necessary for life. In addition to building bones and keeping them healthy, calcium helps our blood clot, nerves send messages and muscles contract. About 99 percent of the calcium in our bodies is in our bones and teeth. Each day, we lose calcium through our skin, nails, hair, sweat, urine and faeces, but our bodies cannot produce new calcium. Taking calcium from bones to perform other functions replaces this lost calcium. So, you should get sufficient calcium from your diet or supplements. 99% of calcium absorbed by the body is stored in bones and teeth.How much ever calcium you take in your diet, it won’t get absorbed if you don’t have sufficient vitamin D levels in your body.Hence both calcium and vitamin D are essential for you. Vitamin D is essential for calcium absorption in the body. It helps to reduce the risk of fractures in elder patients. Adequate calcium with vitamin D3 intake as a part of well-balanced diet may reduce the risk of bone health. People who have digestive disorders that make it hard to break down and use calcium are also at a higher risk for calcium deficiency.
That’s why it’s important to try to get calcium from the food we eat. When we don’t get enough calcium for our body’s needs, it is taken from our bones.
What is Vitamin D and What Does it Do?
Vitamin D plays an important role in protecting your bones and your body requires it to absorb calcium. Children need vitamin D to build strong bones, and adults need it to keep their bones strong and healthy. If you don’t get enough vitamin D, you may lose bone, have lower bone density, and you’re more likely to break bones as you age.
How Much Vitamin D Do You Need?
WOMEN AND MEN
Under age 50 - 400-800 international units (IU) daily**
Age 50 and above-800-1,000 IU daily**
Some people need more vitamin D.Vitamin D and calcium can be your best friends if you want to keep your bones healthy. Get the right amount and you'll be less likely to break one or get a bone-weakening disease called osteoporosis.
To figure out how much vitamin D is right for you, you need to get familiar with something called an "international unit," or IU for short. That's how vitamin D is measured.For calcium, the amount you need depends on your age and gender
All adults 19-50: 1,000 milligrams
Adult men 51-70: 1,000 milligrams
Adult women 51-70: 1,200 milligrams
All adults 71 and older: 1,200 milligrams
Pregnant/breastfeeding women: 1,000 milligrams
Pregnant teens: 1,300 milligrams
How Do You Get Vitamin D and Calcium?
Vitamin D has multiple roles in the body, not all of them well-understood. You can load up on calcium from a lot of different kinds of food. For example, add some dairy to your diet, such as milk, cheese, and yogurt. Or try veggies like broccoli, kale, and Chinese cabbage.
Want a simple plan to get the recommended 1,000 milligrams a day? You can do it if you eat a packet of fortified oatmeal, a cup of fortified orange juice, a cup of yogurt, and half a cup of cooked spinach.
Another source of the nutrient is the sun. Your body makes it from sunlight. But you need to wear sunscreen to protect your skin, and that blocks your body from making vitamin D. Also, it can be hard to make enough from the winter sun, depending on where you live.
If you're not getting all the vitamin D and calcium you need from food, you can get it from supplements .
What are some calcium deficiency signs?
Calcium deficiency symptoms (also known as hypocalcemia) range from minor – numbness or tingling of the fingers, muscle cramps,problems with proper blood clotting, lethargy and poor appetite – to more severe, including mental confusion, skeletal malformations, dermatitis, and in infants, delayed development in children’s growth and development. Illnesses such as osteoporosis (brittle, thin, porous bones that easily break) and rickets are also associated with a deficiency.
Who should consider calcium supplements?
Even if you eat a healthy, balanced diet, you may find it difficult to get enough calcium if you:
Follow a vegan diet
Have lactose intolerance and limit dairy products
Consume large amounts of protein or sodium, which can cause your body to excrete more calcium
Are receiving long-term treatment with corticosteroids
Have certain bowel or digestive diseases that decrease your ability to absorb calcium, such as inflammatory bowel disease or celiac disease
In these situations, calcium supplements may help you meet your calcium requirements. Talk to your doctor or dietitian to determine if calcium supplements are right for you.
Reading Food Labels – How Much Calcium am I Getting?
To determine how much calcium is in a particular food, check the nutrition facts panel of the food label for the daily value (DV) of calcium. Food labels list calcium as a percentage of the DV. This amount is based on 1,000 mg of calcium per day. For example:
30% DV of calcium equals 300 mg.
20% DV of calcium equals 200 mg of calcium.
15% DV of calcium equals 150 mg of calcium.
In general, you shouldn’t take supplements that you don’t need. Calcium supplements are available without a prescription in a wide range of preparations (including chewable and liquid) and in different amounts. The best supplement is the one that meets your needs based on convenience, cost and availability. When choosing the best supplement to meet your needs, keep the following in mind:
Read the product label carefully to determine the amount of elemental calcium, which is the actual amount of calcium in the supplement, as well as how many doses or pills to take. When reading the label, pay close attention to the “amount per serving” and “serving size.”
Take most calcium supplements with food. Eating food produces stomach acid that helps your body absorb most calcium supplements. The one exception to the rule is calcium citrate, which can absorb well when taken with or without food. Calcium citrate works well on both empty stomach as well as with food and can be taken anytime.This is also found to be a better option for elderly folks ,who has less stomach acid to absorb the product.
The total daily dose. Calcium is absorbed most efficiently when it's taken in amounts of 500 milligrams (mg) or less at one time. So if you take 1,000 mg of calcium a day, split it into two or more doses over the day.
When starting a new calcium supplement, start with a smaller amount to better tolerate it. When switching supplements, try starting with 200-300 mg every day for a week, and drink an extra 6-8 ounces of water with it. Then gradually add more calcium each week.
Necessity of vit k with calcium. If you take oral vitamin D,you also need to take vitamin K2.Vitamin K2 helps to move calcium to proper areas where its needed and removes it from sites where it shouldn’t be present like arteries and soft tissues. When you take vitamin D, your body creates more of these vitamin K2-dependent proteins, the proteins that will move the calcium around. They have a lot of potential health benefits. But until the K2 comes in to activate those proteins, those benefits aren't realized. So, really, if you're taking vitamin D, you're creating an increased demand for K2.Vitamin K2 deficiency is one of the reason why people suffer from vitamin D toxicity symptoms which includes improper calcification leading to hardening of arteries.And vitamin D and K2 work together to strengthen your bones and improve your heart health.
Choosing The Right Calcium – What About Supplements?
The science is clear: the kind of calcium you ingest is of utmost importance to your bone health.
Obtaining as much calcium as possible from foods is optimal, but it’s understandable that maintaining a high enough daily dose with foods alone is nearly impossible. So turning to supplements makes sense.
However, it’s crucial that the supplement you choose be bioavailable and easily absorbed. It should also be a fairly low dose, so you are not taking in more calcium than you can absorb. After all, high doses are not necessary if the maximum amount of calcium is being taken up by your system.Before taking calcium supplements make sure that there is a proper balance between calcium, vitamin D, vitamin K2 and magnesium.Lack of balance of these nutrients can lead to calcium supplements related health risks such as heart attacks and stroke.Therefore,taking calcium supplement at right time and in a proper way can help us to stay healthy and fit.
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By: Madhukar Pharma
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