Calcium is a mineral that is crucial part of the development of bones and teeth, but the heart, nerves, and blood also use it. The bones and teeth use about 99% of all the body’s calcium. It is stored there and can actually be released into the body when you are short on calcium somewhere else such as the blood. The bones are always in a state of rebuilding so it is important to continue eating calcium in the diet or taking supplements to provide them with a steady supply.
What to Know About Calcium
The rate that people absorb calcium can vary. As people age it is harder to absorb it, and women sometimes don’t get as much as they need because the estrogen in the body affects absorption in different ways.
The blood system uses it in regards to blood clotting. When people are low on calcium they may experience issues with a lessening in bone density like osteoporosis, rickets, and osteomalacia. Calcium is also used to help ease the pain of PMS and during pregnancy it can help prevent leg cramps and high blood pressure. Calcium carbonate is the leading ingredient in antacids that people take for heartburn.
For PMS there seems to be a link between low calcium and more PMS symptoms, but it does seem that only calcium from food sources will help. In a supplement form it does not appear to make a difference. For uses like strengthening the bones however, calcium is just as affective when taken in a supplement form as when received through food.
Sources of calcium in food are milk, cheese, yogurt, spinach, kale, okra, collards, soy beans, some fish, and fortified breakfast cereal. Vitamin D is a helpful pairing with calcium because it helps the body absorb it. Without vitamin D the body could have difficulty getting enough calcium even if you are eating it. That is why many supplements come with both at once. Vitamin D from a food source can be found in cheese, eggs, and some fish.
Calcium does have interactions with some medications. Sometimes the interaction can be avoided by just taking the pills and the supplements at different times. Calcium is certain to interact with hormonal treatments for the thyroid. Some antibiotics are lessened in absorption when they are taken wit calcium, but if taken a couple hours apart this is usually not as issue. Some antibiotics have a contraindication with calcium that affect the heart or lungs. Some water pills make the body absorb more calcium than it needs which can be dangerous for the kidney.
Always check with a doctor to find out the right way to take calcium during a treatment of antibiotics or other medicines. It is generally safe taken in normal amounts but taking too much calcium is not recommended because it is unknown if it can lead to other issues in the body. If you are taking calcium in supplement form usually one gram per day is enough to prevent osteoporosis.