What is Calcium?
The mineral calcium is common in many living and nonliving things around the world. It’s also the most abundant mineral in the human body. However, your body doesn’t make it by itself, so you have to receive it from food, water or supplements.
Bones and teeth store most of your body’s calcium where it provides strength and structure. However, it’s critical for other operations unrelated to bones. For example, it’s necessary for the proper functioning of blood vessels, muscle contraction, nerve communication and hormone secretion. Calcium is also helpful in managing hormone issues, minimizing the risk of some cancers, lowering blood pressure and even weight loss.
When your body needs calcium for these other functions, a cascade of physiological processes kicks in and releases a bit of the mineral from the bones and into the blood. It will usually find the calcium it needs, just at the expense of bone integrity.
Adequate calcium intake is a must. Yet, most of us rarely get enough through diet. And those who do attempt to eat calcium-rich foods may have problems absorbing it. As a result, supplements are very popular. They come in various forms as explained below. Foods that generally don’t have calcium become fortified with the supplement, like some cereal or orange juice brands.
There are also multiple chemical forms of calcium available as supplements, such as calcium carbonate and calcium citrate. You may have had difficulty understanding the differences between them, but you can find any information you may need below to help clarify its uses.
Benefits of Calcium
The benefit of consuming dietary and supplemental calcium is mainly to avoid problems that accompany low intake. The effects of not getting enough of it are slow to appear and not always readily apparent, such as developing rickets in children or osteoporosis in adults. However, calcium intake has other perks unrelated to bones. Some of the benefits include:
- Prevents Bone Loss
Studies show that when your body needs calcium for vascular (blood vessels) function, nerve transmission, muscle contraction and hormonal signaling, it pulls it from the bones. At some point, if the bones don’t regularly replenish with the minerals they need, including calcium, they will become weak and brittle. It leads to a condition called osteoporosis.
According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, “Osteoporosis is a bone disease that occurs when the body loses too much bone, makes too little bone, or both. As a result, bones become weak and may break from a fall or, in serious cases, from sneezing or minor bumps.” It affects a whopping 54 million Americans. (x)
Specific populations are at a higher risk of bone loss — especially women over the age of 50. When estrogen levels decline during menopause, the body doesn’t absorb calcium as well. In fact, postmenopausal women lose up to 25 percent of their bone mass in the first decade following menopause. (x)
If you are a female athlete, you need to know that female athletes who engage in certain sports are another group at risk of bone loss. Because of a combination of calorie restriction and intense exercise, it can reduce levels of circulating estrogen. Even though most of these athletes are not menopausal, they may still experience bone loss and increase their risk for bone fractures. (x) (x)
Weak bones and osteoporosis are more prevalent among women, but people of all genders may experience weak bones and osteoporosis. Ideally, adequate calcium intake would prevent weak bones from developing. Once osteoporosis sets in, though, calcium and vitamin D supplements are part of the treatment protocol for managing the condition. (x)
- Lower Blood Pressure
Many studies now show an inverse relationship in both humans and animals between calcium intake and blood pressure. In other words, those with inadequate calcium intake or problems with absorption are at a higher risk for developing hypertension.
It’s generally acknowledged at this point that by making sure you get the recommended daily amounts of calcium, you lower your risk of developing high blood pressure and the complications that accompany it. (x) (x)
- Reduces Risk of Colon Cancer
Colorectal cancer is the third most common type of cancer diagnosed in both men and women. (x) Studies show that calcium from supplements and dietary sources can help reduce your risk of developing this type of cancer. (x) For example, one study found an inverse relationship between dietary calcium and rates of colon cancer in Korean men and women. It’s unclear why calcium may have this protective effect, but researchers think it could help reduce the irritating effects of fatty acids and free bile in the colon. (x)
- Promotes a Healthy Pregnancy
While adequate calcium is essential for all women during pregnancy, studies show it can be especially critical if you are at risk of preeclampsia, a potentially dangerous condition affecting 5-14 percent of pregnancies worldwide. Preeclampsia describes the condition of high blood pressure and excess protein in the urine during pregnancy, which, if severe and untreated, can lead to significant complications. (x)
Calcium supplements can help improve blood pressure, control insulin levels and reduce inflammation during pregnancy, especially when taken in combination with vitamin D. This effect may be most dramatic in women who are already calcium deficient. (x)
- Balanced Hormones
Postmenopausal women aren’t the only ones who need an adequate amount of it in their diet. Research suggests that women who get little calcium, vitamin D and magnesium in their diets may be more likely to suffer from PMS. (x)
Women with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) may also reduce symptoms with calcium supplementation. For example, a study found that a calcium and vitamin D supplement helped reduce inflammation and oxidative stress in women with PCOS. (x)
- Might Assist with Weight Loss
Some studies show that increased intake through diet or supplements can help obese participants lose more weight. This effect is especially evident when combined with supplemental vitamin D. For example, a study of 52 obese women found that those supplementing with vitamin D and calcium lost more weight and had reduced waist circumference after three months compared to control groups. (x) Another study involving obese college students yielded similar results. (x)That said, other studies do not show a relationship between it, with or without vitamin D, and weight loss. The evidence seems to be weak in this area. (x) Nevertheless, it certainly can’t hurt to make sure you’re getting enough calcium and vitamin D.
Forms of Calcium Supplements
When shopping for a calcium supplement, you’ll most likely find calcium carbonate or calcium citrate. These forms contain different amounts of what’s called “elemental calcium,” or the amount of actual mineral in the supplement. (x) Here is a description of the various forms of it you may find:
- Calcium Carbonate
This form is one of the more popular calcium supplements on the market. It consists of 40 percent elemental calcium in doses no larger than 500 mg at a time, with food, for best absorption. Calcium carbonate can be hard to absorb if you have low stomach acid or are elderly. It can also cause constipation. On the other hand, it is often present in some antacids and can soothe an upset stomach. (x)
- Calcium Citrate
It is the second most common type of calcium supplement. It contains 21 percent elemental calcium, and your body absorbs it more easily than calcium carbonate. If you are over 50 and take antacids or have absorption issues, you may prefer calcium citrate. (x)
- Calcium Aspartate
Newer to the scene, calcium aspartate as an attachment to an L-aspartate molecule, which acts as a “mineral transporter.” As a result, the manufacturer promotes it as a highly absorbable form. That may be accurate, but currently, there is a limited quality of data backing up these claims. (x)
- Calcium Lactate
It consists of 13 percent elemental calcium, calcium lactate comprises, you guessed it, calcium and lactate. It is not to be confused with lactose. Despite similar-sounding names, calcium lactate does not derive from dairy products. It’s a dietary supplement and approved by the FDA as a food substance to firm, flavor, leaven, stabilize or thicken food. (x)
- Calcium Gluconate
Calcium gluconate contains 9 percent elemental calcium. You can take it like any other calcium supplement. They classified it as a calcium salt, meaning that it is soluble in water. (x)
- Calcium Ascorbate
Despite the name, calcium ascorbate is actually vitamin C. Sometimes, vitamin C can cause stomach upset. The calcium, however, “buffers” the acidic effects of the vitamin C and makes it gentler on the stomach. (x)
- Calcium Orotate
Like calcium aspartate, calcium orotate helps your body absorb it readily. In addition to elemental benefits, the added orotic acid helps support athletic performance and endurance. (x)
- Calcium Pyruvate
Calcium pyruvate rarely functions as a calcium supplement. It’s more often a delivery system for pyruvate, which is a substance your body makes during energy metabolism. Lately, this supplement is generating buzz for its potential to increase energy and assist with weight loss. (x) (x)
How Much Calcium Should You Take?
How much calcium do you actually need? Luckily, the guidelines are very straightforward. According to the National Institutes of Health, the recommended daily allowances (RDA) for calcium through a combination of food and supplements are: (x)
- Children ages 4-8: 1,000 mg
- Older children ages 9-18: 1,300 mg
- Adults 19-50: 1,000 mg
- Women ages 51+: 1,200 mg
- Men ages 51-70: 1,000 mg
- Men ages 71+: 1,200 mg
Where to Buy Calcium or Vitamin D Supplements?
You can purchase calcium or vitamin D supplements at BulkSupplements.com. The company is an industry-leading manufacturer and distributor of pure dietary supplements.
BulkSupplements.com is not just a consumer brand. It also supplies pure ingredients to other food and supplement brands to make their products. All products at BulkSupplements.com are manufactured and tested according to current and proper manufacturing practices.
Are you interested in trying these calcium supplements or vitamin D mentioned in this article as a possible solution to helping you with maintaining your bone density or overall bone and body health? Contact BulkSupplements.com to place an order today.
How to Take Calcium Supplements
Because there are so many types of calcium supplements, it’s best to follow the label directions.
Calcium needs vitamin D to be absorbed. Your body stores vitamin D because it’s exposure to sunlight, consumption of some foods like egg yolks, and supplements.
Calcium Side Effects
Calcium supplements can cause constipation. They can also reduce the body’s ability to absorb iron and zinc if taken together.
Getting too much from supplements can cause calcification of vascular (blood vessels) and soft tissues and increase the risk for kidney damage. (x)
The Bottom Line
There is no question that calcium is of utmost importance to our ability to live our best lives. While dairy products are a substantial source of the mineral, many people cannot or choose not to have them. Some dark leafy greens and other plant-based foods contain smaller amounts, but again, these foods rarely make their way onto people’s plates often enough.
The splendid news is that calcium supplements have a strong history of safety and effectiveness if used as directed. Calcium serves many essential functions, and your body will usually have access to the amount it needs — but at the expense of your bones. To be active, strong and mobile, do yourself a favor and check your calcium intake.
These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.