It is known that calcium builds bones and teeth, protects us against fractures and guarantees mobility. However, these are not his only works. It regulates muscle contraction, including the stimulation of the heart muscle. It plays an important role in proper blood clotting. Without calcium, some important enzymes cannot work effectively. That’s why it’s so important, and a deficiency can cause serious health problems.
The primary sources of calcium are dairy products, cow’s milk and its products. However, calcium can also be found in legumes, as well as in grain products. What do you need to know about calcium deficiency and what are the daily requirements of this element?
The role of calcium
Calcium is an element that is the building block of bones and teeth. In addition to being the primary building material for bone, it also affects the proper functioning of the endocrine system and the metabolic economy. In addition, it affects the conductivity of nerve impulses and regulates the work of the nervous system, as well as the good functioning of the immune system.
Calcium participates in the blood clotting process, activating clotting factors. Therefore, its role in the human body is very important.
Calcium – property
Calcium has many important properties, which is why it is one of the most important elements for humans. It regulates the work of several systems (endocrine, nervous, circulatory, digestive), and above all builds bones and teeth. Lack of calcium in the diet can contribute to weakening of the bone and joint economy, as well as weakening of teeth.
- builds bones and teeth
- prevents osteoporosis
- regulates hormonal balance
- affects blood clotting processes
- regulates the function of the nervous system
- regulates the function of the immune system
- supports the regeneration processes of the body
Dietary sources of calcium
Calcium in the diet comes mainly from dairy products. Contrary to appearances, however, the best sources of calcium are not milk, but cheese. More calcium is found in yellow cheese, including rennet and processed cheese. Surprisingly, to meet the daily needs of calcium, it is enough to eat 4 slices of yellow heart. At least in white cheese and cottage cheese. The content of calcium in cow’s milk is average and is 112 mg / 100 ml.
People who are allergic to cow’s milk proteins can reach for plant-based milks, such as oat or almond milk, which are often enriched with calcium. It is worth looking for information about this in the package.
In addition to dairy products, calcium can be found in legumes, incl. in soybeans or beans. Other herbs, such as kale, parsley, savoy cabbage, and chives, are also a source of calcium in the diet. Various seeds, such as sesame, sunflower, oatmeal and wheat bran, are also rich in calcium. Some mineral waters also contain calcium.
What is good to eat?
If we want to provide calcium to the body, we should include in the diet:
- cow’s milk
- soy milk
- rennet cheese
- processed cheese
- soy cheese
- cottage cheese
- natural yoghurts
- savoy cabbage
- wheat bran
- poppy seed
Absorption of calcium
Absorption of calcium largely depends on the level of vitamin D in the body. Any deficiency of the sun’s vitamin can adversely affect the absorption of calcium and thus contribute to weakening of the bones and the joint economy.
In our climate zone, we cannot replenish calcium deficiency by exposure to sunlight. For this reason, doctors recommend that every adult take at least 2,000 units of vitamin D per day. Vitamin D should also be given to children and adolescents in a dosage according to age. For young children, the need for vitamin D is between 400 and 1000 units, and for children after the age of 10 – from 1000 to 2000 units.
What increases and decreases calcium absorption
Calcium is better absorbed in the company of vitamin D along with vitamin K2. Calcium absorption is increased by vitamin D, but also by lactose, magnesium and amino acids (eg lysine). Therefore, it is worth remembering not only about supplementing with vitamin D, but also with magnesium, and also choose whole cow’s milk. People who are intolerant to cow’s milk proteins can choose plant-based milk with calcium – this is a better choice than lactose-free cow’s milk.
Absorption of calcium is reduced by excess fat, but also by the intake of glucocorticosteroids, oxalates and phosphates. Oxalic acid can be found, among others in rhubarb and spinach, but also chard or quinoa.
Beneficial and unfavorable combination with calcium
Vitamin K2 also affects the absorption of calcium and its correct level. It helps keep calcium in your bones and prevents it from sticking to the walls of your blood vessels.
The correct level of vitamin K2 is prophylaxis against cardiovascular diseases and osteoporosis. K2 deficiency can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease. In which products can we find vitamin K2? In long-ripened cheese, liver or egg yolks.
Calcium absorption is inhibited by certain types of medication, such as those for heartburn, gastroesophageal reflux disease, high cholesterol or thyroid gland. It is worth asking your doctor about this if you are taking this type of medication.
Calcium – requirements
The daily requirement of calcium is:
- for children from 1 to 3 years old – 700 mg
- for children from 3 to 19 years, 1000 mg
- for pregnant and lactating women 1300 mg
- for adults up to the age of 50, 1000 mg
- for adults over 50 years, 1300 mg
It is worth considering this when choosing additional nutritional supplements to support the body. Taking calcium can strengthen skeletal muscles as well as the spine in children and adolescents. For adults, especially perimenopausal women, calcium intake can be a good prevention of osteoporosis. Women over the age of 51 have an increased need for calcium, so they should include foods rich in this element in their diet. It is very useful to reach legumes and soy products that contain phytoestrogens, compounds that show effects like estrogen, female hormones whose body levels decrease during menopause.
Lack of calcium in the body can cause hypocalcemia. Calcium in your blood is too low, less than 9 mg/dL. This causes weakening of the economy of bones and joints, pain in muscles and joints, fatigue, and sleep. It can also contribute to the appearance of hemorrhages.
In children, calcium deficiency is responsible for delayed teething, caries, bone deformation and rickets.
Long-term calcium deficiency can cause brittleness of nails, alopecia, weakening of bones and joints (especially metatarsal bones), as well as deterioration of eye function. There is a link between low calcium levels and the development of cataracts.
Calcium deficiency and increase
Deficiency symptoms that should cause concern and prompt diagnosis include:
- joint pain,
- muscle pain,
- cavities in teeth,
- numbness in the joints,
- teeth development and structural problems (in children);
- bone pain
- the possibility of fractures
- difficulty walking.
Postmenopausal women and vegans are more susceptible to calcium deficiency. The average calcium requirement for an adult is 1000 milligrams per day. for better absorption, do not take more than 500 mg at one time. In order for the body to use calcium properly, you also need to get enough of it vitamin d. and magnesium.
Calcium for children
Children should drink milk and eat milk products to maintain strong bones and teeth. However, not all children like milk drinks, and some even do not want to eat milk products at all. In such a case, it is appropriate to transport cheese or legumes and other vegetables that will provide the body with calcium.
A good source of calcium is oatmeal, which also contains a number of vitamins, minerals and phytic acid. Calcium in cereal products can be a substitute for dairy products.
Calcium in the elderly
The elderly should especially take care of the correct level of calcium in the body. In the elderly, bone and joint management weakens and the need for calcium increases. It is necessary to ensure an adequate supply of this valuable element, remembering, however, not to provide only from dairy products. Too much dairy in your diet can contribute to the formation of kidney stones.
Excess calcium – hypercalcemia
However, not only the deficiency of the element is dangerous for the body, but also its very high level. Excess calcium can prevent the absorption of minerals from food, cause gastrointestinal disturbances, and also contribute to the formation of kidney stones.
High levels of calcium can be caused by hyperparathyroidism, hyperthyroidism, bone cancer, as well as vitamin D toxicity. When taking any food supplements, be careful not to lead to hypervitaminosis, that is, a condition in which too many vitamins are stored in the body, causing various types . type of disease.
How much calcium at one time?
When deciding on adding calcium, we should not exceed the daily dose per day. If the nutritional supplement consists of taking one tablet per day, the dose of calcium should be between 200 and 800 mg per day. Research shows that calcium is better absorbed in the intestines if the dose does not exceed 500 mg.
When to take calcium?
Calcium preparations should be taken with food. In an acidic environment, they are better absorbed than on an empty stomach. It is more beneficial to take vitamin supplements during the day, because then they have a better effect on the digestive system and do not cause gastrointestinal disturbances.
How to increase calcium effectively?
When choosing a calcium supplement, carefully read the information on the package. Supplements containing calcium ions are better absorbed than calcium salts. Calcium chelates (up to 80 percent), as well as calcium citrate (about 45 percent), are better absorbed. They do not cause constipation or intestinal discomfort.
Dietary supplements containing calcium carbonate are poorly digested and are responsible for many digestive problems.
What to prevent to improve the absorption of calcium?
If we want calcium to be absorbed properly, we should avoid drinking large amounts of coffee and tea that contain a lot of caffeine and prevent calcium absorption. The more we drink caffeinated drinks, the faster we lose calcium in the body. Just one cup of black coffee causes the loss of approximately 3 mg of calcium!
Calcium absorption is also inhibited by alcohol, as well as foods that are very high in fiber. It is worth remembering if we are suffering from calcium deficiency.
That you may not know about vitamin D!