While a lot of the calcium in our body contains calcium, our body doesn’t actually produce calcium. That’s why we need to get it from food and supplements if required.
Foods That Contain A Lot Of Calcium
But there are quite a few disadvantages to getting too much or too little calcium. That’s why, even though it might seem harmless, you should not try to figure out the dosage on your own without talking to a qualified medical professional.
What Is Calcium And Why We Need It
Calcium is not a mineral unknown to us. We know that its presence is rich in the human body because it is stored in our teeth and bones. Calcium is also good for bone structure and is easily available in foods of all kinds which is also the best way to get it. But that doesn’t work out, you can also get it through supplements.
Benefits Of Calcium
There are a lot of benefits that come from this mineral and it is crucial in maintaining the communication between the brain and the rest of the body along with heart health and muscle movement. Let’s take a detailed look.
1. Good For Bones
About 99 percent of the calcium present in our body is stored in our teeth and bones. This is an essential mineral that is important right from childhood because it helps kids develop their bones. Calcium is also important after you stop growing because it helps maintain bone density and the overall health of the bones as you continue to age.
Calcium is also good for women who have experienced menopause because it takes away more bone density than it does in men. This is also a good way to prevent osteoporosis which is why doctors may recommend a supplement at this age.
2. Helps Blood Clotting
Blood clotting is a process that involves a lot of steps and chemicals like calcium. It is important in maintaining the actions of all muscles including the heart. It relaxes the muscles around blood vessels which is also good when maintaining blood pressure. The same is true for vitamin D which is good for the health of bones which it does by absorbing calcium.
3. Regulates Muscle Contraction
Every time a muscle is stimulated by a nerve, it releases calcium which then helps the muscles carry the necessary proteins. This process helps the muscle relax and contract accordingly.
Doctors might also recommend getting extra calcium if you are:
- Stopped getting your period because of too much exercise or have anorexia nervosa
- Just starting menopause
- Lactose intolerant
- On a vegan diet
Foods That Contain A Lot Of Calcium
There are a lot of good sources of calcium in food and beverages. For example:
- Fortified breakfast cereals
- Salmon and sardines
- Leafy vegetables like kale, broccoli, spinach
- Fortified fruit juices
- Seeds and nuts like chia and almonds
These are all good examples but when you consume dark leafy veggies remember to manage the dose because they contain oxalic acid which reduces the process of calcium absorption.
Daily Recommended Dose
The human body also loses calcium through defecation, urination and sweating. So, you must ensure that you’re getting enough calcium by increasing the intake of the above-mentioned foods or by getting a supplement.
The average amount of calcium you should take depends on your age. But the thumb rule according to the US Recommended Dietary Allowance is:
- Kids from 9 to 18 years of age should take 1,300 mg
- Pregnant and breastfeeding women from 17 to 19 years of age should take 1,300 mg
- Pregnant and breastfeeding women who are 19 years of age or older should take 1,000 mg
- Men and women from 19 to 70 years of age should take 1,000 mg
- Women over 50 years of age and men over 70 years of age should take 1,200 mg
Ideally, your per-day dosage should not be more than 500 mg.
Possible Side Effects
Calcium is good for your health but if you take more than you should, it can cause gas, bloating or constipation depending on the type of supplement you’re taking. If the daily dosage is more than 4,000 mg, there are greater health risks too. And if you’re taking supplements, you should keep it way below the upper limit unless a doctor says otherwise.
The Tolerable Upper Intake Level (or UL) varies depending on your age.
- Kids (9 to 18 years) – 3,000 mg per day
- Adults (19 to 50 years) – 2,500 mg per day
- Adults (51 and older) – 2,000 mg per day
If you are already closer to the upper limit, you should split the per-day dosage or get it from your diet. If you are getting it through supplements, your blood might have too much calcium and it leads to a condition called hypercalcemia or milk-alkali syndrome.
On the other hand, if your body is not getting enough calcium, it could be due to hypocalcemia which is the result of lifestyle factors like:
- Eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia
- Consuming too much magnesium
- Exposure to mercury
- Using laxatives for a long time
- Deficiency of the parathyroid hormone
- Eating too much sodium or protein
- Consuming too much alcohol, soda or caffeine
- Having digestive diseases like Crohn’s or inflammatory bowel syndrome, celiac disease
- Kidney failure
- Phosphate or vitamin D deficiency
Calcium can also cause certain drug interactions. So, if you are on any medication and want to take calcium supplements, you should talk to a healthcare professional before getting some on your own.
Foods That Contain A Lot Of Calcium: Parting Thoughts
Calcium plays an important role in keeping a lot of our bodily functions in order. It’s good for bones, teeth and muscles too. It is important in keeping the blood vessels functional, maintaining heart health and more. There are also many lifestyle factors that might cause a deficiency. But now that you have a grip over the details, you should be able to maintain the right levels.