Top 15 Calcium Benefits for Health
Are you aware of the amazing Calcium Benefits?
Is Calcium so important for your body?
Let us discuss what is calcium, major calcium benefits and how to include it in your diet?
Were you aware that calcium makes up approximately 2 percent of the total body weight of a person? It is one of the most essential minerals which is required by the body for overall health and development. Calcium has the ability to prevent a number of diseases as well as helps in the absorption of other nutrients.
About 99 percent of the calcium in your body is used for skeletal structure and function like the bones and teeth. The remaining 1 % portion is used for blood clotting, cell signaling, nerve function, and muscle contraction.
Calcium is necessary to transport ions across the cellular membrane, to activate certain enzymes and to send and receive neurotransmitters during communication with other cells. It is one of the key players for the maintenance of a regular heartbeat as it operates as an electrolyte. An electrolyte is a particle which helps to conduct electricity in the body. (1)
What is Calcium?
Calcium is a mineral which is absolutely essential for life to exist and most of the calcium in our body is stored in the bones and teeth. Calcium ions act as an electrolyte in the body and are indispensable for the functioning of the circular, muscular and digestive systems. (2)
It helps in the release of enzymes and hormones which are critical for the normal functioning of the body and helps the blood vessels to move blood throughout the body.
Calcium is used to treat many other health conditions. In fact, it is one of the key ingredients in many antacids. It is used to regulate high levels of phosphorus, magnesium, and potassium in the blood by doctors. It also has the potential to prevent as well as control high blood pressure.
How Much Calcium Do You Need?
There are many risks involved if you don’t have sufficient calcium level. Calcium is not produced by the human body so it needs to be obtained from food sources. The amount of calcium required by your body depends on many factors like age, sex, health condition etc.
Calcium is required to build and develop the skeleton and the teeth during childhood and adolescence. Adults require it to keep their bone strength intact. Pregnant and lactating mothers require a higher dose of calcium, that is passed on to the child.
Low levels of calcium can result in:
- Stunted growth in children.
- Tooth decay and gum problems.
- Adults with low bone mass are at risk of developing osteoporosis.
- Low absorption of vital nutrients.
- Age 1-3 years: 700 milligrams (mg) per day
- Age 4-8 years: 1000 mg per day
- Age 19-50 years (Men): 1000 mg per day
- Age 19-50 years (Women): 1000 mg per day
- Breastfeeding or Pregnant Adult: 1000 mg per day
- Age 51-70 years (Men): 1000 mg per day
- Age 71and above years (Men): 1200 mg per day
- Age 51 and above years (Women): 1200 mg per day
“Too much of anything is bad” the old adage fits perfect for vitamins and minerals. There is a risk of consuming too much calcium particularly if they are taken in the form of calcium supplements. The overdose of calcium can lead to symptoms like constipation, nausea, vomiting, poor appetite and kidney stones.
Health Benefits of Calcium
Let us now take a look at how calcium is helpful in different body functions.
1. Strong Teeth
The hard outer layer of our teeth is primarily made up of minerals like calcium and phosphate. Calcium helps to keep the teeth and jaw bone strong to hold the teeth firmly. Healthy teeth help proper assimilation and digestion of food. Good dental health is a sign of overall good health and growth. Strong teeth are one of the best calcium benefits for health.
2. Prevents Osteoporosis
Osteoporosis is a bone disease in which bones become brittle and porous. They may also fracture easily at a later stage. It is generally caused in old age. Calcium is the basis for strong bones.
It helps to prevent the development of osteoporosis. Our body’s calcium absorption capacity and bone development are optimum during childhood and adolescence. It begins to decrease after the age of 20. One way to prevent osteoporosis is to take the required intake of calcium.
3. Helps in Weight Loss
Calcium is an aid to weight gain as it helps in increasing the metabolism and muscle gain. It also helps in burning fat and losing weight. Bones, Tendons, Ligaments and Muscles, all need to be well nourished and strong in order to lose or gain weight healthily. Research reports have stated that calcium helps to prevent regaining unhealthy weight after successfully losing it.
4. Stronger Bones
90% of calcium present in our body is stored in bones. Calcium deficiency is one of the main reasons for bones turning brittle, porous and fragile. Calcium helps to strengthen the bones and strong bones are very important for overall good health.
5. Oral Hygiene
Calcium helps in keeping the teeth, gums and jaw bones strong. It prevents bacteria and tooth decay. It helps in maintaining good oral hygiene as well as prevents diseases in the mouth.
6. Cardiac Function
Taking the adequate amount of calcium in your diet can reduce the risk of heart disease as well as stroke. Calcium helps in regulating the heart-muscle function and nerve transmission. It helps in reducing high blood pressure.
Better cardiac health is one of the best calcium benefits for your health.
7. Helps Pregnant Women
Calcium is a vital mineral for growth and development in babies. If the mother is deficient in calcium the baby extracts calcium from her bones which may cause further complications. So, it is recommended to have more calcium when pregnant.
8. Fights Depression
Calcium is necessary not only for the bones, nerves, and hormones but also to combat depression. Many women suffer from PMS-related depression which is directly linked to calcium deficiency.
Calcium has a relaxing effect and it can be called as a natural sedative. Also take care to include fat and minerals like magnesium, potassium and vitamin D along with calcium to let it absorb by your body.
9. Reduces Cancer Risk
Calcium is also known to prevent the risk of ovarian, colorectal and breast cancer. Studies have shown that people who consume an adequate amount of calcium tend to have a lower risk of developing colon cancer polyp. Calcium is known to bind and neutralize many toxins in the body.
It also reduces the risk of skin cancer as calcium helps to regulate the skin’s pigment cells and protects the skin from harmful UV rays. Anti-oxidant rich foods also help in preventing cancer.
10. Regulates Blood Pressure
An adequate level of calcium helps to prevent high blood pressure as well as aids in curing hypertension. A healthy and balanced diet which includes calcium helps to keep the blood pressure under control. Cholesterol-lowering foods also help in regulating blood pressure.
11. Helps in treating PCOS
Women suffering from PCOS need a lot of calcium. Calcium along with Vitamin D are the best supplements for PCOS. Many recent pieces of research have proven that it regularises the periods and helps in conceiving.
Calcium helps in follicle maturation and health egg development in females. It also helps in shedding the excess fat and maintaining hormonal balance.
12. Healthy Skin
Calcium plays an important role in regulating the skin on the body. It is found in the epidermis or the outer most layer of the skin and helps in skin growth and regeneration.
Without an adequate amount of calcium in the body, the skin can appear to be thin and dry with plenty of dead cells. Calcium also helps the skin to retain moisture which gives you glowing skin.
13. Balances Body pH
The body’s pH level is hampered by the regular intake of processed foods like sugar, junk food, and sodas which can lead to cause kidney stone and hypertension. Calcium helps to balance the pH level towards these acidic foods and prevents heartburn and indigestion.
14. Strong Muscles
An adequate amount of calcium ensures that the muscles in the body are strong. They are particularly important for the contraction of the heart muscles and the general functioning of the heart and the heart beats.
15. Reduces Risk of Type 2 Diabetes
Calcium helps in the prevention of developing Type 2 diabetes. In a study, a comparison was made between people who took calcium supplements and those who did not. Diabetes is a lifestyle disorder caused due to unsteady levels of sugar. Following a healthy diabetes diet will help to fight with it.
Sources of Calcium
Calcium is not produced by the human body and needs to be consumed from various foods resources. Doctors prescribe calcium supplements if they find your diet is not able to provide you with a sufficient amount of calcium. Here are two main sources of calcium
- Food sources
Calcium Rich Foods
One of the easiest ways to increase your intake of calcium is by including the following calcium-rich foods in your diet:
- Seeds: They tiny but nutritional powerhouses are high on calcium. You can include seeds such as poppy, sesame, almonds, cashew etc. in your diet.
- Cheese: Cheese such as parmesan has the most amount of calcium and is also very versatile. You can use it as a snack, main course or even dessert. Even paneer/cottage cheese is an excellent source of not only calcium but also protein.
- Yogurt: Another very versatile food which is a great source of calcium as well as live probiotic bacteria and other nutrients. Yogurt can be consumed just as it is or topped with your favorite fruits, seeds, nuts or honey.
- Sardine and Pink Salmon: The edible bones in sardines and pink salmon are rich in calcium as well as protein and omega-3 fatty acids.
- Beans and Lentils: Not only do they contain a high level of proteins but also are a source of calcium for the body. They are a nutritious source of food which is a must for a healthy and balanced diet.
- Almonds: Almonds are very high on nutrients such as calcium, protein, healthy fats, magnesium etc.
- Whey Protein: Found in milk, whey protein has many health benefits due to it being a rich source of calcium, protein and amino acids.
- Green Vegetables: Dark and green leafy vegetables like collard greens, amaranth and kale are excellent sources of calcium.
- Milk: It is one of the cheapest and easily available sources of calcium with multiple benefits as it also contains vitamins A and D as well as protein. You can have turmeric milk before going to bed, this will improve your immune system and skin glow.
- Eggs: Eggs are packed with various essential nutrients like vitamin A, E, protein, omega 3 fatty acids etc. Including egg in your daily diet will help get all these essential nutrients.
Here are a few tips on increasing the level of calcium in your body through calcium-rich foods:
- Use milk with cereals, soups, curries etc.
- Consuming green, leafy vegetables such as kale, mustard greens, cabbage and broccoli amongst others.
- Use yogurt in smoothies, desserts, dip or dressing etc.
- Consuming dry fruits and nuts like almonds, pistachio, and cashew amongst others.
- Use a variety of cheese in your diet. e.g Cottage Cheese, Mozzarella Cheese etc.
- Consuming fish rich in calcium like pink salmon or sardines.
There are some people who may need to consider calcium supplements as the calcium intake is not adequate even after eating a healthy and balanced diet. They include:
- People who follow a vegan diet.
- Have limited dairy products due to lactose intolerance.
- Excretion of calcium in the body due to a large amount of sodium or protein.
- Have developed osteoporosis.
To conclude, we can state that calcium is one of the most important necessities for the normal and healthy functioning of our body.