Learn More About Calcium
1. What Is Calcium?
Not only is the soft, gray mineral that chemists call calcium it's the fifth most abundant element on earth, it is the fifth most abundant element in human beings. Most people know that we need lots of calcium—around a thousand milligrams a day, more for pregnant women and the elderly—for healthy bones and teeth. But they may not be aware that calcium plays a vital role in the transmission of nerve impulses, the constriction and relaxation of blood vessels, and even in the production of certain hormones such as insulin.
2. What Are Food Sources Of Calcium?
Dairy remains the best known and most widely available food source of calcium. Due to concerns over the effect of saturated fat on heart disease, many health-conscious consumers prefer to eat dairy—whether milk, yogurt, cheese, or kefir—in a low-fat form. Other good sources include pinto beans, rhubarb, spinach, broccoli, and some forms of tofu.
Adolescents typically have the greatest need for calcium, since their skeletal systems are forming. Often, however, they substitute soft drinks for calcium-rich milk, and are famously reluctant to eat their vegetables. This sets adolescents up for bone problems and other health difficulties later in life.
3. What Are Some Possible Benefits Of Calcium?
So many studies have accumulated showing that a good intake of calcium can lessen the chances of osteoporosis and hip fractures in the elderly that in 1993 the US Food and Drug Administration allowing a health claim not only for calcium-rich food but also for supplements stating that calcium can reduce the risk of bone loss later in life.
Other possible benefits of calcium are much more surprising. For instance, some research indicates that additional dietary calcium may actually inhibit weight gain in women. (Similar investigations have not yet been performed on men.) In one study 2006, women in their fifties who took more than 500 mg per day of calcium gained five fewer pounds over 10 years than those who did not. Nobody knows how this works, but possible explanations include decreased production of parathyroid hormone which leads to loss of calcium in fat cells. Another possibility is that extra calcium simply blocks the absorption of dietary fat, thereby reducing caloric intake.
Speaking of women’s health, other calcium research points to the possibility that extra calcium may help reduce by 30% the risk of developing Premenstrual Syndrome, or PMS. This could potentially alleviate much pain and suffering for millions of women…and men.
Hypertension-induced stroke is a leading cause of disability and death in America and the rest of the industrialized world. For the last two decades both observational and experimental, including the famous DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) study, have lent support to the idea that calcium may help reduce both systolic and diastolic blood pressure to a moderate degree without the use of dangerous medications. The amount of calcium that seems to be useful is in the range of 1,000 mg to 1,200 mg per day.
A particularly dangerous form of hypertension is preeclampsia, which strikes pregnant women. Again, studies point to the usefulness of calcium in reducing the risk of this sometimes deadly condition. Again, pregnant women should probably be taking about 1,000 to 1,200 mg per day of calcium.
Until recently scientists and doctors believed that too much calcium could cause kidney stones in some people, but recent work in the field suggests that calcium actually appears to reduce the body’s tendency to form kidney stones by a whopping 44%. As little as 200 mg per day of calcium might do the trick, although taking more of this key nutrient is probably a good idea for most people.
Other possible uses of calcium include its use to reduce the risk of polyps that can turn into colon cancer, a major cause of death among Americans if not caught in time., as well as minimizing the damage that lead exposure can cause in both adults and children.
4. How Can Calcium Be Taken?
Try to take half your calcium (500 mg or thereabouts) with breakfast, and the other 500 mg with supper. Calcium carbonate works okay, but many people, including the elderly and those on heartburn medicine, will probably find that forms such as calcium citrate are absorbed better.
Calcium supplements can be found in liquid, chewable, powdered, and pill forms. Keep in mind that calcium needs to be taken with vitamin D, preferably in the cholecaliciferol form, to be absorbed by the body. Magnesium also helps in this regard.
5. Is Calcium Safe?
Calcium is safe for almost everyone. Possible side effects can include gas and constipation. Adding some magnesium or switching from calcium carbonate to calcium citrate usually clears this up.
Calcium can sometimes block the absorption of prescription drugs such as thyroid medicine and certain antibiotics, including tetracycline, so be sure to check with your doctor if you are on these or any other medications.
And remember—you can get the best calcium at the best prices from A1Supplements.com!
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