People of all ages need calcium for bone health as a calcium deposit is an essential ingredient for building healthy and strong bones. Boning up calcium during adolescence and childhood will significantly help to reduce/ prevent a bone disease called osteoporosis, which can lead to fragile, weakened and porous bones.

Every day, your body suffers a loss of calcium through the skin, urine, sweat, feces, hair, and nails. The daily loss of calcium must be replaced either by the diet or taking supplements to prevent/slow bone density loss which may end up with a silent killer known as osteoporosis. Lack of calcium can cause your body to strip calcium out of your bones, causing joint pains, muscle cramps, tooth decay, high blood pressure and/or even arthritis. When the calcium is continuously withdrawn from your bones, over time, your bones will be prone to break easily, and this situation will also leave you with fragile and porous bones.


About 99% of calcium is deposited in your body to help build healthy and denser bones to support the structure of your teeth and bones. Calcium is also essential for its role in transmitting messages in the brain, muscle contraction, regulating heart beat, supporting other bodily functions, stimulating hormone secretions, enzyme activity and blood clotting.

The silent killer: Osteoporosis


A silent killer of osteoporosis progresses without signs or symptoms, until you realize a fracture occurs in the wrist, hip and spine. The World Health Organization (WHO) expressed their concern that 50 % of rip fractures can result in permanent disability and 20% are fatal.


Those who have insufficient calcium intake can risk their life of osteoporosis. Besides that, women are also prone to osteoporosis than men. Even though, in average, men can live longer than women, they also risk their life for osteoporosis in their 80′.

Who are at higher risk of osteoporosis?

If you’ve answered “yes” to the following questions, you’re probably at higher risk for osteoporosis.

  • I drink excessive amounts of alcohol daily
  • I smoke cigarette or a pipe.
  • I do not get sufficient amount of calcium either through my diet or supplements.
  • During my adulthood, I had had a broken/fractured bone.
  • I have had an early menopause (before age 45).
  • I have a family record of osteoporosis.
  • I have a small, thin frame.
  • I have taken high doses of steroid-type medications or thyroid hormones.
  • I am not physically active.
  • I have gone through menopause.
  • I am Caucasian or Asian.

Why Calcium is important for you?

There has been long a myth saying that too much calcium can cause kidney stone but the research suggested the opposite. With over 90,000 female participants, this eight-year-study concluded that higher intake of dietary calcium actually reduced the risk of kidney stone formation, especially among the younger females. Furthermore, calcium helps to bind with the oxalates in the foods we consume from the food to help reduce oxalate absorption into our body. It has been known that excessive intake of oxalate in the body can cause kidney stone formation.

Extra calcium intake is essential for pregnant moms to help build their babies’ bones. Breastfeeding moms as well, need additional calcium, since lactation may cause them a lower bone density and thereby putting them at a higher risk of fracture.

The recent research suggests that if your calcium intake is below the average, it’ll give rise to blood pressure and this condition is particularly dangerous for those who suffer high blood pressure. Calcium’s myriad benefit can be seen in its role in lowering blood cholesterol levels.

Higher calcium intake can help change the ratios of some bile salts and this in turn, will help protect you against bowel cancer. Nevertheless, extremely high doses of calcium can impair kidney function due to the presence of higher calcium concentration in the blood called hypercalcemia. It’s advisable to follow the recommended calcium intake listed under subtitle “How much calcium do you need?” in this article.

How to strengthen bone health?

Please refer to my article entitled Seven important keys for optimum bone health.

How much calcium do you need?

The question of how much your body needs the amount of calcium depends much on your life stage. Basically, you need the highest calcium intake during pregnancy, adolescence, lactation, and in adults (female and male) above 51 years old as compared to other different age group.


The recommended calcium intake is as follow:

Ages/ milligram per day

Birth-6 months (210 mg per day)

7 months -1 year (270mg per day)

1-3 years (500mg per day)

4- 8years (800mg per day)

9-18 years (1,300mg per day)

19-50 years (1,000 mg per day)

>50 years (1,200mg per day)

Pregnant and lactating

  • 14-18 years (1,300mg per day)
  • 19-50 years (1,000mg per day)

What foods are great sources of calcium?

Animal products are not the only way to obtain calcium, foods such as soy, wakame, spinach and pearl are always the excellent choices for calcium. Eggs, meat and dairy products are high in calcium, but they are also loaded with higher animal protein and fats which is a main culprit to many ailments and calcium loss. In addition, high dietary ratio of animal and dairy products to vegetable protein intake has shown to significantly increase the risk of hip fracture and bone loss among menopausal women.


Unlike calcium supplements, you won’t overdose on calcium from natural sources, therefore, nutrients from natural wholesome plant foods are better than those supplements.

Soy

Soy is loaded with calcium but low in fat and cholesterol-free. The soy phytoestrogens have observed to be effectively enhance body’s calcium absorption, increase bone mass and prevent calcium loss. Read more details here: Health benefits of soya products

Wakame

Wakame is a health treasure from the sea and it is an excellent source of calcium for those who are lactose-intolerant, or for those who want to obtain adequate amounts of calcium.

Spinach

This nutrient-dense dark leafy vegetable is an ideal source for magnesium, riboflavin, vitamin B6, calcium and iron. The vitamin K found in spinach can help activate osteocalcin (by anchoring calcium molecules inside the bone), which is the major non-collagen protein in bone, and thereby it’s essential for maintaining bone health. Read more details here: The amazing health benefits of spinach

Pearl

Pearl is another food source for calcium. Naturally, it contains 82-92% of calcium carbonate which makes it ideal for maintaining bone health.

Do you Have to take calcium supplements?

Not everyone needs for calcium supplements unless they are unable to obtain adequate amounts of calcium from food.

Both calcium deriving from supplements and food is in a compound form. Apart from calcium itself, carbonate and citrate are other ingredients found in the compound form, which is normally called elemental calcium.

During digestion, the calcium compound dissolves and the elemental calcium will be absorbed into the blood. If a tablet has 500mg of calcium carbonate, its elemental calcium is 200mg since 40% of the calcium compound is elemental calcium and 300mg or 60% would be from carbonate ingredient.

If you take calcium citrate, you do not have to take many pills, which is 14% calcium and 21% calcium lactate. Further, calcium carbonate has contained the highest concentration of calcium by weight, which is 40%. Try avoiding any calcium supplements containing bonemeal, since they may have contained lead, which is a toxic substance.

Can you have too much calcium?

The answer is no. The tolerable upper intake level (UL) for calcium is limited to 2,500mg daily for all ages to avoid a medical condition called hypercalcemia (high calcium levels in the blood) which is always linked to supplemental intakes of 4g or more of calcium a day. Higher dose of calcium intakes can result in constipation while inhibiting the absorption of zinc and iron from food.

Well, it’s unlikely to get excessive calcium from food, but the highly amount of calcium intakes occur usually from the supplements since they contain higher amount of elemental calcium. Therefore, do not take excessive calcium in higher doses than the recommended amount of calcium without the prior approval of your doctor.

Why phytoestrogens work better than supplements?

In the initiative clinical trial, a study from New England Journal of Medicine revealed that women who consumed the supplements scored only one percent higher on hipbone density tests as compared to women who took a placebo. Even though many calcium supplements contain vitamin D to aid calcium absorption, any addition of them do not assist to prevent against osteoporosis. Following this study, experts believe that phytoestrogens might be a good answer to calcium supplement to help prevent against osteoporosis.

Phytoestrogen is a phytochemical that can be easily absorbed by human body. Since it’s similar to a structure of the human hormone estrogen, it can work harmoniously with the body’s natural hormones. Research has showed phytoestrogen to help prevent calcium loss from the body and in this matter, soy phytoestrogens have been documented to relieve menopausal symptoms and to retain calcium.

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