If you think calcium’s only role is to make bones and teeth strong, it’s time to think again. In particular, calcium plays several crucial roles in our body that you might not be aware of. Low calcium is a common problem for people of all ages in many countries.
In this article, I’ll be discussing five remarkable health benefits of calcium backed by scientific research.
So, let’s get started!
Calcium, besides promoting bone health, provides a host of other health benefits.
It aids in muscle function, heart health, and weight management and even plays a role in preventing certain types of cancers.
Therefore, adequate calcium intake is essential for maintaining optimal health.
What is calcium?
Calcium is a dietary mineral that is essential for all living organisms.
It is the most abundant mineral in our bodies and is important for many functions, including bone and teeth health, blood clotting, muscle function, and nerve signaling.
Health Benefits of Calcium
These are the key health benefits of calcium.
1. Strengthening Bones and Teeth
Experts typically recommend calcium primarily because it’s vital for the health of your teeth and bones.
Specifically, research shows that a whopping 99% of the body’s calcium is stored in these areas.
Plus, calcium intake in the early stages of life contributes to the development of peak bone mass, which is beneficial in later years when bone density naturally decreases.
It’s possible that a lack of calcium can eventually lead to osteoporosis, a condition that weakens bones and makes them susceptible to fractures.
If you’re a woman who has stopped having periods (menopause), you have a higher chance of breaking a bone or getting osteoporosis.
Hence, it’s important to make sure you’re eating enough calcium.
Based on reviews of many scientific studies, taking calcium can slow down bone loss by up to 1.2% and can lower the chance of breaking a bone by at least 10% in older people.
2. Muscle Function
In particular, calcium plays a crucial role in muscle contraction.
Basically, the process goes like this:
When a nerve stimulates a muscle, calcium is released, allowing the proteins in muscles to carry out the contractions.
It might also interest you to know that calcium is needed for the smooth muscle tissues in your blood vessels to function properly.
Therefore, maintaining adequate calcium levels can prevent muscle cramps or spasms.
3. Heart Health
When it comes to heart health, calcium often takes a backseat in most discussions.
However, it typically plays a significant role in regulating the contraction and expansion of blood vessels.
Additionally, calcium aids in the transmission of signals in heart cells, ensuring that your heart rhythm remains stable.
Thus, sufficient calcium intake can promote heart health and prevent cardiovascular diseases.
4. Weight Management
Here’s an intriguing fact: calcium plays a key role in weight management.
Although it might sound surprising, research suggests that this mineral can help balance your body weight.
It might also be involved in reducing fat storage and improving metabolism.
For most people struggling with weight issues, calcium can be an ally.
Some individuals even find it helpful in suppressing appetite and preventing overeating.
5. Cancer Prevention
The role of calcium in cancer prevention is still a budding area of research.
Specifically, some studies suggest that calcium may help prevent certain types of cancers, like colon cancer.
Though the evidence is not yet conclusive, the link between low calcium intake and increased risk of colon cancer is becoming more apparent.
More research is needed in this area to draw definitive conclusions.
Frequently Asked Questions
How does our body get calcium?
Our body gets calcium from the food we consume.
Foods that are particularly rich in calcium include dairy products like milk and cheese, green vegetables like broccoli and kale, and fortified foods like some types of bread and cereals.
If our diet doesn’t provide enough calcium, the body will take it from our bones, which can lead to weak bones over time.
How much calcium do we need each day?
The amount of calcium you need each day depends on your age and sex.
Generally, adults need around 1,000 to 1,200 milligrams per day. Children and teenagers, as well as older adults, might need more.
What happens if we don’t get enough calcium?
If we don’t get enough calcium, our bodies can’t carry out important functions properly.
Over time, a lack of calcium can lead to problems like osteoporosis, which is a condition that makes the bones weak and brittle.
It can also cause muscle cramps, difficulty sleeping, and an abnormal heartbeat.
What are the symptoms of low calcium?
Symptoms of low calcium, or hypocalcemia, can include fatigue, muscle cramps, numbness or tingling in the hands, feet, and face, brittle nails, dry skin, and in severe cases, confusion or memory loss.
If you experience these symptoms, you should see a healthcare professional.
Can you have too much calcium?
Yes, it is possible to have too much calcium.
This can happen if you take too many calcium supplements.
High levels of calcium can cause problems like kidney stones, constipation, and in rare cases, it can interfere with the heart’s ability to function.
Does calcium have any interactions with other nutrients?
Yes, calcium can interact with other nutrients. For instance, calcium can interfere with the body’s ability to absorb iron and zinc.
Also, your body needs vitamin D to help absorb calcium.
That’s why it’s important to get a balance of nutrients in your diet or from supplements.