Speak of calcium and we tend to immediately associate it with our teeth and bone health. And, why not? They are the ones that contain the most calcium, while the rest of it can be found in body tissues, nerve cells, blood and other body fluids. According to NIH’s fact sheet about Calcium, 99% of the body’s calcium supply is stored in bones and teeth. So, it is safe to say that calcium is one of the important minerals required by the body to stay fit.
The Recommended Dietary Allowance of calcium as established by the Food and Nutrition Board (FNB) at the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies (formerly National Academy of Sciences) in adults ranges between 1000 mg and 1200 mg per day. If we do not meet this requirement on an everyday basis then we might face low bone density which is a major risk factor of osteoporosis. This leads to the wide recommendation of calcium supplementation as a precautionary measure. But, is it really necessary? While calcium supplement’s high demand is primarily driven from the idea that bones are made of calcium, is it wise to use them without a doctor’s prescription? Read on and find out all about calcium supplementation and discover if you need them.
Are bones made of all calcium?
Bones are growing tissues made from collagen – a protein, and calcium phosphate – a mineral. This mineral is responsible for the hardening and strengthening of bones. But besides calcium, bones are also made of at least a dozen other minerals and we need them all to maintain the health of our bones. These minerals include iron, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, vitamin D and more. So, we may say that while calcium is very important, your bone health may also suffer due to the insufficient supply of these other minerals too. In which case, calcium supplements alone may not benefit in maintaining bone health.
Does calcium supplementation really prevent osteoporosis?
As mentioned earlier, the risk of too little calcium may result in low bone mass which may prove to be a determinant for osteoporosis. As a result, many just turn to calcium supplements thinking that it is a potential preventive measure. However, a study challenged the effectiveness of increased calcium intake on hip fracture risk. The meta-analyses of cohort studies and clinical trials established that the preventive use of calcium supplementation is ineffective in reducing the hip fractures in men and women.
Can calcium supplements cause any health problems?
The upper limit of the Recommended Dietary Allowance of calcium in adults lies between 2000 mg and 2500 mg. While intake of calcium within these limits is just fine, exceeding the upper limits may lead to some health problems.
- Calcium supplements, without co-administered vitamin D, is associated with an increased risk of a heart attack. A meta-analysis strongly warranted reassessment of the calcium supplementation’s role in the management of Osteoporosis.
- The use of calcium supplements is also linked to other complications such as kidney stones. According to research published in 2015, the risk of kidney stone recurrence may get elevated due to calcium supplements.
When should one opt for calcium supplements?
The daily Recommended Dietary Intake of calcium can be easily achieved through a regular balanced diet. While milk and other dairy products are one of the richest sources of calcium, a few others include calcium-fortified orange juice, firm tofu made with calcium sulphate, canned sardines and salmon with bone, and boiled turnip greens. Despite of so many sources, there are certain groups of people who may experience calcium deficiency. These are individuals with lactose intolerance, postmenopausal women, female athletes, vegetarians, and vegans. In such cases, you may approach your doctor who might prescribe you some calcium supplements. You may also opt for them if you are suffering from Osteoporosis.
The Recommended Daily Allowance of calcium in adults can be easily fulfilled from regular dietary intake. It is necessary to have a balanced diet though to ensure that you meet your body’s calcium requirement. Furthermore, it is recommended to use calcium supplements only under a doctor’s prescription.
About the Author : Ketki H is a wandering soul who loves travelling solo, and firmly believes in enjoying the journey rather than hurrying to the destination. Although a graduate in Mechanical Engineering, she took to writing for reaching the masses.
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