Today is bone health day and there is no other mineral that we should talk about than calcium. This essential mineral is a crucial part of your bone mass, starting with teeth and ending with your skeleton, but it is also important for other areas of your body as well, like blood, heart and the nervous system. Your entire body needs it in order to survive and to properly develop. Around 90% of the entire calcium levels are found within your bone mass, while the rest of it is spread throughout your system, in muscles, blood organs and skin. This potent mineral is what gives your body strength and resilience and makes your bones thicker and stronger. The problem is that with age the calcium levels keep decreasing as it is eliminated through skin cells, sweat and waste and this will become more and more obvious when you will start experiencing bone problems. Aside from this aspect, it seems like women are especially sensitive to calcium loss, because their absorption power decreases with age. The reason for this is that a woman’s estrogen level decreases over time and this impact the calcium absorption as the woman ages. But this is not all about this aspect. Its level is also severely influenced by age, race and gender and also by varying factors such as general health or some genetic predispositions to failures in assimilating this precious mineral. In these cases the affected one will have to receive medical treatment in order to get its daily calcium dose.
There are plenty sources to use in order to get your daily filling with this mineral, but not all of them are equally efficient. Normal and healthy people can get it from their eating diets so let’s break down the most common sources rich in this mineral, because not everybody may know about all of them.
- Cheese, yogurt, milk – these are the most common sources and everybody takes their required dose from these sources for a long time
- Sardines – we include here fresh cooked fish and the canned one, as long as it contains bones, because those are the most calcium enriched portions
- Kale, spinach, collard greens and turnips – basically all the dark greens with leaves.
- Fortified cereals – we have to include here Total, Corn flakes and Raisin Bran, because these contain the highest calcium levels among all of the cereal products
- Orange juice – yep, not only that you will get Vitamin C, but orange juice is also a good calcium provider
- Soybeans – unlikely as it may seem, soybeans are also included in this category
- Fortified soy milk – you have to keep in mind that not all soy-milk is equally enriched in this mineral, so you will have to be very careful when checking the labels.
- Breads, grains and waffles – that is enriched ones
First of all, we need to provide you with the most easy-to-observe symptoms related to poor calcium levels which can lead to deficiencies and other more serious affections.
- Muscle cramps
This is the first thing that you will start experiencing when suffering from such deficiency and it is the first indicator that you should take into consideration. The most common areas where you can experience these muscle cramps are thighs, arms and underarms.
This is a specifically important sign of calcium deficiency, because many people suffer from insomnia, but not all of them are aware of the real causes. While some of the cases are completely unrelated to this particular aspect, there are many other cases when insomnia is actually caused by calcium deficiency. Aside from this aspect, when experiencing such deficiency, some persons may actually fall asleep easier than before, but will have a troubled sleeping session and they can end up being more tired when waking up than they were before going to sleep.
- Tooth Decay
Your teeth will start becoming weaker and softer and they will break and fall. This symptom is especially dangerous in young children, because having a calcium deficiency will delay their tooth formation and will also heavily influence their tooth development as grownups.
- Poor bone density
This is a particularly troublesome aspect of calcium deficiency due to the fact that it can cause aggravated affections that are especially hard to cure. This is particularly difficult when it comes to children, because unlike adults, children’s bones are a lot softer and this means that in the case of lacking proper calcium they are subjected to fractures and even rickets in the worse-case scenario.
- Brittle nails
As you may know, your nails also contain calcium and when they start losing some, they become frail and brittle. This is another easy-to-notice sign of calcium deficiency.
There are plenty of benefits related to healthy calcium levels and we will have to separate these benefits into two different categories: known benefits and potential benefits. This is because calcium is an extremely active mineral and its potential is not fully known. So let’s break these down in order to clarify this aspect:
- Counters osteoporosis symptoms – far from being a medicine-like ingredient, calcium will not cure this disease but will help in reducing the bone loss and, along with vitamin D will prove very useful in strengthening the bone structure of those suffering from osteoporosis
- It increases bone strength in fetuses – This is actually a practical discovery and it has been shown that calcium will benefit the fetus when the pregnant woman will consume supplementary calcium on a daily basis. However, it seems like this is only true when it comes to women who have low calcium levels. Those that record normal levels will remain completely unaffected, as well as their fetuses.
- Hyperparathyroidism – Calcium consumption is associated with the reduction of the parathyroid hormone levels
- Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) – When you are suffering from this affection, calcium intake as a part of a dietary program, will have meaningful benefits because it seems to reduce bloating, food cravings and associated pain.
- Colorectal cancer – there are some researches that suggest calcium as an active fighting mineral against this type of cancer. In other words, it is used to prevent colorectal cancer. Also, it seems like this so called prevention system only worked on people having high levels of vitamin D. The others remain unaffected.
- Fluoride poisoning – in this particular case calcium will reduce the symptoms of fluoride poisoning, but only when combined with vitamin C and vitamin D
- High cholesterol levels – it is also believed that calcium could reduce your cholesterol levels when combined with a low-calorie diet, but the effect is only mild.
- Stroke – taking calcium is believed to reduce the risk of having a stroke
- Tooth loss – this seems to work especially well when talking about older people and combined with vitamin D, will have a huge benefit in strengthening your teeth
Usually, there are no severe side effects when consuming calcium in excess, the most known being some belching and bloating. However, we would like to raise awareness that in no way you should be excessive about it, because this potent mineral can be harmful in some cases. There are researches that have linked excessive calcium consumption with the increase risk of heart attack in men. It is not definitive, but moderation is suggested for a healthy and risk free lifestyle.
This is an interesting topic and we should take into account that calcium, as a mineral, proves to be a lot more versatile and can be used in a lot of ways. Let’s break these down:
- It is used as a reducing agent in some processes like metal extraction
- It plays a major role in producing some metals
- The product called calcium carbonate is commonly used in making cement, mortar, but also in the glass industry
- Toothpaste and other mineral supplements contain calcium carbonate
- When making plastics and acetylene gas, calcium carbide is used
- Calcium arsenate is known as a powerful insecticide, while calcium phosphide is used as a rodenticide, firework material and in making flares
- Animal feeding and fertilizers also include a calcium product called calcium phosphate
- A food additive is calcium gluconate and calcium stearate is used in making wax crayons, plastics and paints.