Believe it or not, for some people who add calcium supplements to their diet are doing more damage than good. Calcium is an essential element in your diet and very useful for your body. As you age, diseases like osteoarthritis begin to creep in and you must be prepared to change your diet to accommodate the effects.
Let’s explore how you can add more calcium to your diet, and improve the battle against osteoarthritis without all the side effects.
Why do you need calcium?
Your body needs calcium to keep your bones strong. In fact, 99% of the calcium in your body is found in your bones and teeth. In the bloodstream, calcium is used to send nerve signals, release hormones (like insulin) and regulate how muscles and blood vessels contract and dilate.
Calcium is incredibly important and necessary for your body to function. Therefore, if your diet doesn’t contain enough calcium, your body will start to take it from other places (i.e. from your bones).
What are the dangers of taking calcium supplements?
If you believe your diet to be deficient in calcium, then it might make sense to take a calcium supplement. For some people, this is an easy option, but others must take heed of the potential side effects.
- Increased risk for heart disease: while the research might not be definitive, there is some cause for concern for heart attack and stroke.
- Increased risk for prostate cancer: the research here is also conflicting but there might be some possibility.
- Increased risk for kidney stones: depending on the amount you consume, kidney stone formation might increase with supplement use.
- Hypercalcemia: having too much calcium in your body leads to hypercalcemia that has many negative side effects.
How much calcium should I take?
Filling your calcium intake with supplements might be just a little tricky. The recommended amount for most adults is 1,000 mg per day and increases to 1,200 mg per day for women over 50 and men over 70.
What you need to figure into this number is how much calcium you are getting from your food sources. So, if you typically only get around 500 mg per day through food and need 1,000 mg per day, then you can take one 500-mg supplement daily.
Other calcium supplement considerations
The biggest danger with taking a calcium supplement is to be sure you are not consuming too much calcium. It is best to underestimate. Side effects of taking in too much calcium include constipation, hypercalcemia, calcium buildup in soft tissues and trouble absorbing iron and zinc.
You may also need to split up your dose of calcium. You body can typically only handle 500mg of calcium, so if you need more than that amount in a day, split it between morning and evening.
What are natural ways to increase calcium intake?
If you have any concerns about your calcium intake and the potential for side effects with calcium supplements, then it is time to take a look at your diet. Finding ways to incorporate more calcium dense foods into your diet is the perfect way to naturally increase your levels.
- Have yogurt for breakfast: choosing 8oz of plain yogurt is a way to get up to 42% of your daily calcium intake.
- Drink orange juice: a sweet 6oz glass of good old o.j. can add 26% of your daily calcium to your totals.
- A slice of mozzarella cheese: just 1.5oz of mozzarella gets you 33% of your daily calcium intake.
- Sardines: it might smell a little fishy, but sardines are also a great source of calcium.
- Got milk? Of course, milk is a great way to up your calcium.
- Bowl of cereal: many cereals are fortified with calcium.
- Salmon: this fish is full of calcium.
- Non-dairy source: broccoli, tofu and Chinese cabbage are great non-dairy alternatives.
Your best bet to add more calcium into your diet is to do so naturally by changing what you eat. The battle against osteoarthritis is real and calcium is super important to your body. There are real possible dangers to taking a calcium supplement, but most people seem to do well when choosing the proper amount. The risks of supplements might be questionable, but regardless, calcium is important to your health.
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