According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), 99% of the body’s calcium is stored in your teeth and bones to support their structure and function while the rest aids muscle function and vascular contraction. Since your body is unable to naturally produce calcium, it is up to you to nourish your calcium levels through the right combination of diet and medications.
Importance of calcium
Calcium is the most abundant mineral in the body and most of it is stored in your bones to prevent serious bone disease like osteoporosis. The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for adults depends on your age and can be sourced from a variety of foods and supplements. Refer to this list from the NIH to determine your the RDA for calcium in adults:
|14-18 years||1300 mg||1300 mg||1300 mg||1300 mg|
|19-50 years||1000 mg||1000 mg||1000 mg||1000 mg|
|51-70 years||1000 mg||1200 mg|
|71+ years||1200 mg||1200 mg|
A simple blood test can be able to determine if you have hypocalcemia or calcium deficiency. Symptoms may vary for each patient but can include some of the following:
- Poor appetite
- Muscle cramps
Others do not manifest any sign of calcium deficiency but if you have a history of vitamin D deficiency, then you may also be at risk.
Vegans and those who are lactose intolerant do not consume enough dairy in their daily meals and this puts them at risk of developing calcium deficiency. Menopausal women should monitor their calcium levels since their bodies stop producing estrogen which can eventually lead to decreased calcium absorption and increased bone resorption (breakdown of old bones).
Calcium deficiency in women
Women, in general, need more calcium in their diets since they are more at risk of developing osteoporosis than men. This is because post-menopausal women stop producing as much estrogen as they used to and this directly affects their bone density.
There are many calcium-rich foods that can help you maintain a healthy level of calcium in your system. Dairy remains to be the top source for calcium at 299 mg per serving (non-fat) but there are also non-dairy yet calcium-rich food sources like sardines at 325 mg per serving. Remember, your food intake can greatly improve your calcium levels, so try to incorporate as much of these ingredients below to your daily menu:
- Orange juice
- Fortified cereal
- Collard greens
If you are diagnosed with hypocalcemia, ask your doctor about taking calcium supplements to help with your condition. Anything in excess is never good for your health since too much calcium can also result in hypercalcemia which can also cause serious diseases like kidney stones, kidney failure, and even osteoporosis. Never take any form of nutritional supplement without the proper prescription from your doctor and always pair a healthy diet with proper exercise.
Always consult your doctor before drinking any kind of medication, including vitamins. Keep in mind that your physician is in the best position to prescribe the right kind of treatment for your condition. Immediately stop using a product if you experience negative side effects.