Calcium is essential to keep bones and teeth strong and healthy. Its also required for muscles, nerves and blood vessels to function normally and for the body to regulate the release of hormones and enzymes. Many people dont get enough calcium and dont realize it until their bones have suffered serious damage.
What Can Happen if You Dont Get Enough Calcium
Bones constantly undergo deposition and resorption of calcium. In the deposition process, calcium accumulates and causes bones to grow. In the resorption process, bone cells break down and release calcium into the blood.
There is more bone formation than resorption in growing children and adolescents. The processes are essentially equal through middle age. However, in older adults, especially postmenopausal women, bone is broken down more than its formed. That can result in bone loss and osteoporosis, a weakening of bones that makes them more likely to fracture. The condition becomes more common with age and affects more women than men. People are often unaware that they have osteoporosis until they suffer a fracture.
If you dont consume enough calcium through food and supplements, your body will use some of the calcium in your bones to keep other systems functioning, causing you to lose bone mass and increase your risk of developing osteoporosis.
A severe calcium deficiency can cause other medical problems. It may produce tingling or numbness in your fingers, an abnormal heart rhythm or convulsions.
How Much Calcium You Need
Women between the ages of 19 and 50 should consume 1,000 mg of calcium per day from food and/or supplements. After the age of 50, women should consume 1,200 mg per day. Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding need 1,300 mg of calcium per day.
Men between the ages of 19 and 70 should get 1,000 mg of calcium per day. After the age of 70, men should consume 1,200 mg per day.
Children need 700 mg of calcium per day between the ages of 1 and 3, 1,000 mg per day between ages 4 and 8, and 1,300 mg per day between ages 9 and 18.
Foods That are Rich in Calcium
Dairy products, such as milk, cheese and yogurt, are good sources of calcium, as are canned sardines and salmon, soybeans, collards, turnip greens, kale, bok choy, broccoli, almonds and sesame seeds. Some processed foods, such as soymilk, tofu, orange juice, cereal and bread are fortified with added calcium.
When you go grocery shopping, look for foods that are naturally high in calcium and check the labels on packaged foods. Its best to get the recommended amounts of calcium from food, but if thats not possible or realistic, you can take a supplement. Talk to your doctor first.
Vitamin D is also necessary since it helps the body absorb calcium. Its found in salmon, tuna and foods that have been fortified with vitamin D, such as milk, juice, yogurt and cereal.
Published with permission from RISMedia.