Calcium is an alkaline earth metal element that is needed for healthy bones and teeth. Its main function is to rebuild the bones. Calcium is also used to treat osteoporosis, a condition wherein the bones become weak due to low bone density and osteomalacia. Osteomalacia refers to the process of softening of bones with accompanying pain. It is very important to take vitamin D in order to help the body absorb calcium. Vitamin D is harder to find in food except in fatty fish like salmon, tuna, and mackerel, in beef liver, in cheese and in egg yolk. Good sources of calcium include milk and milk products, cheese like mozzarella, cheddar, and Parmesan, yogurt, canned fish with soft bones, leafy greens, tofu that is processed with calcium sulfate, and tortillas made from lime-processed corn.
The lowest amount of calcium to be consumed is 210 mg/day for infants who are 0-6 months old.
When you are about 19-50 years old, the safe amount of calcium to be consumed is 1000mg per day.
People who are 51 years old and older should at least take 1,200 mg of calcium per day.
For pregnant or breast-feeding women who are below 19 years old, 1300 mg of calcium daily is recommended. It is effectively absorbed if taken in 500 or 600 mg at a time.
If you already have enough calcium in your diet, you should also count the things that you should avoid like antacid, excessive red meat, plenty of sodium, excessive amounts of alcohol, and caffeine as they hinder the absorption of calcium in the body.
Calcium deficiency occurs when there is not enough calcium in the body and it causes a lot of problems in the body. Symptoms of this condition include muscle cramps, muscle aches, muscle pain, muscle twitching, muscle spasms, tooth decay, insomnia, low bone density, weak bones, rickets, poor growth in children, maldeveloped bones in children, delayed puberty, menstrual problems in teenagers, premenstrual cramps, increased blood pressure, pale skin, listlessness, dry and scaly skin, coarse hair, brittle nails, easily fatigued, and in extreme cases, convulsions.
When people get older, especially for women, it is harder for the body to rebuild new bones. This is why it is important to watch the amount of calcium intake as well as vitamin D intake to synthesize calcium. Calcium supplements in the form of vitamins are also good sources of this element especially in older people who find their bones getting weaker over time and their bodies could not rebuild it as fast as they used to. In choosing calcium supplements, one must know how to calculate the amount of calcium based on the Percent Daily Value and the Supplement Facts label on the calcium supplements. Knowing the other prescriptions that you are taking and its possible interaction with calcium should be given attention as well as the type of calcium supplement that the body will be able to tolerate with less side effects. Despite the help of vitamin D, consuming the calcium supplement is best effective when it is in chewable or liquid form.
Although calcium is very important for the body to function properly and deficiency of the said element causes health problems, taking calcium is also not advisable for some people. Those who are suffering from hypercalcemia, having excess calcium in the bloodstream and those who have a history of kidney stones should not take calcium supplements anymore. Increased levels of calcium in the body increases risks of the following health problems: kidney stones, prostate cancer, constipation, calcium build-up in the blood vessels, and impaired absorption of iron and zinc.