The Facts About Calcium

Information about calcium

Did you know that 99 percent of the calcium you consume is stored in your teeth and bones? True story. Your body also needs calcium so it can move, and carry messages to and from your brain efficiently. Calcium is one of those nutrients you should get through your diet. Even though there are so many benefits to ensuring you get your proper daily amount, there can be some serious issues if you take too much. It’s all about maintaining the right balance. Read on to find out about calcium, why you need it and what to watch out for. 

What Is The Best Form Of Calcium To Take

Calcium supplements are available in a few forms: calcium carbonate, calcium citrate, calcium gluconate, and calcium lactate. Before you choose which one is best for you, here are some things to look for and avoid in any calcium supplement you decide to take*:

  • If they have ingredients such as oyster shell, coral, or bone meal, avoid them. They may contain toxic metals or lead.
  • Avoid side effects by sticking to the recommended dosage.
  • In conjunction with Vitamin D, which helps your body absorb calcium more efficiently. 
  • If you are taking zinc, or certain antibiotics, check with your doctor before taking any form of calcium supplements.* 

What the different types of calcium are*:

  • Calcium Citrate: This form of calcium is most easily absorbed by the body, but it’s also the most expensive. According to ASMBS, this form of calcium is preferred for bariatric patients because stomach acid is not necessary in order to absorb it. There is also less risk of developing kidney stones or constipation.
  • Calcium Carbonate: This is the type of calcium found in products like Tums and Rolaids. It has side effects such as gas or constipation, but it’s less expensive than calcium citrate. 
  • Calcium gluconate: This form of calcium is usually injected directly into the bloodstream through an IV. It’s used to treat conditions resulting in severe calcium deficiencies, black widow spider bites, and muscle cramping due to rickets, along with other conditions. 
  • Calcium lactate: This kind of calcium is mostly found in foods. However, it is available over the counter as a chewable, dissolvable, or pill. Only use this form of calcium under the care of your doctor. 

Read: Water Soluble Vs. Fat Soluble Vitamins

How Do I Recognize A Calcium Deficiency

Some symptoms of a calcium deficiency, along with signs that may be signaling a life-threatening calcium deficiency called hypocalcemia are: 

  • Numbness and tingling in your extremities
  • Experiencing convulsions
  • An abnormal heart rhythm
  • Muscle cramps
  • Confusion
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Skin and nail issues–dry, scaly skin, and dry, brittle nails.
  • Severe PMS symptoms
  • Tooth decay and other oral issues

If you’re experiencing any of the above symptoms, it’s a good idea to consult with your doctor to find the cause.*

Side Effects Of Too Much Calcium

You can, most certainly, have too much of a good thing. That’s including calcium. Always take the recommended dosage, or what your doctor prescribes.* The following side effects are relevant to calcium supplements, not the foods high in the nutrient. 

  • Kidney stones
  • Heart attack
  • Hypercalcemia
  • Milk-alkali syndrome
  • Interference with iron absorption
  • Constipation

Too much calcium can cause a condition called hypercalcemia. This means the calcium levels in your blood are too high and may cause life-threatening issues. Never exceed the recommended dosage of calcium. 

Who Needs To Really Watch Their Calcium Intake?

We’ve already determined that everyone needs calcium. But, certain demographics are more at risk than others for a deficiency. 

If you fall into one of the following categories, then you need to make sure you’re getting a sufficient amount of calcium every day.

  • Vegan/Vegetarians: Because you don’t eat animal products, you should consider taking a calcium supplement.*
  • Lactose intolerance: Your body has a difficult time digesting the sugars found in dairy products, which is where most people get their calcium from. Adding calcium through a supplement is important.* 
  • Amenorrhea: If you’re female and of childbearing age whose periods have stopped due to one of many circumstances, you will need to offset the effects by adding calcium to your diet.* 
  • Postmenopausal: Once a woman has completed menopause, their body doesn’t absorb calcium the way it used to. This is due to bone loss that comes naturally as the body ages. Make sure to get enough calcium either through diet or supplements.*
  • Other conditions: There are certain conditions that won’t allow your body to absorb calcium properly such as Crohn’s disease and IBS. Taking a calcium supplement may fill that nutrient gap.*
  • Corticosteroids: If you’ve been on a corticosteroid for a prolonged period of time, then you may want to discuss taking a calcium supplement with your doctor.

Read: What You Need To Know About Your Bariatric Procedure

Foods Rich In Calcium

It is always best to get your vitamins and nutrients through diet. Some foods that will provide you with the necessary calcium are: 

  • Dairy–milk and cheese
  • Canned salmon, sardines, and any other type of canned fish with bones 
  • Collard greens, spinach, and kale
  • Tofu
  • Edamame
  • Foods and drinks fortified with calcium
  • Almonds
  • Dried figs
  • Oranges

Other Ways To Keep Strong Bones For Years

You may not be able to completely prevent broken bones, however having enough calcium is extremely important for your bone health. But, you should also consider incorporating the following because we can always use reinforcement. 

Exercise: Starting at age 30, bones begin to break down. Increasing your exercise can slow down the process. Weight bearing activities such as walking and dancing are helpful. Exercising triggers a body response that sends a message to your bones to increase their weight. So, the more often you exercise, the more messages telling your bones to stay strong are being received.

Vitamin D: Back when rickets was more common, Vitamin D was prescribed to offset the condition. So, it only makes sense that, in order to keep your bones strong, you should also be taking Vitamin D.

Vitamin K: Vitamin K2 helps your body metabolize the calcium to make it work more effectively. It keeps the supply of calcium going to your bones, and prevents it from depositing into your blood vessels and kidneys. Vitamin K has the potential of reducing calcium from building up around your heart and arteries, so it’s worthwhile to make sure you’re getting enough of it. 


*Disclaimer: The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) suggests that you consult with a health care professional before using any dietary supplement. Many supplements contain ingredients that have strong biological effects, and such products may not be safe in all people.

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease

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