How Much Calcium Do We Need?
A human adult requires 1000 to 1200mg of calcium per day. It is preferable to get this calcium from your daily diet.
In cases where this is not achievable, supplements may be added, taking care that the total calcium does not crosses the daily requirement. Usually, Vitamin D is coupled with calcium for better assimilation and use.
Regarding supplements, it’s better to take it in divided doses, that is, instead of one 1000mg tablet, take two 500mg tablets, one in the morning and one in the evening.
When taking a supplement, be careful not to exceed the daily requirement. More than 2000mg may start damaging your organs.
Normal Body Calcium And Its Regulation
Normal serum levels of calcium is 2.2 to 2.7 mmol/ litre.
Our body has to maintain this level for the proper functioning of our muscles, blood vessels, nerve, heart beats, brain tissue, hormones etc.
To maintain this level, 4 Parathyroid Glands are employed. These release parathyroid hormone, also called Parathormone, that regulates calcium levels in the blood.
If enough calcium is available from food, that’s the best. If not, this hormone may leach out calcium from our bones and teeth to maintain the required serum calcium level.
Therefore, inadequate intake of calcium in diet may weaken our bones and teeth.
Are You Calcium Deficient?
Don’t take calcium supplements just for the heck of it, or because many others are taking. you only need it if you are calcium deficient. It’s better to get yourself examined by a physician to make an assessment of it.
Your doctor will take a blood sample to check your calcium and albumin levels. Albumin is a protein to which calcium binds while being transported in blood. Continuous decreased levels may suggest calcium deficiency.
Bone scan may be ordered to find out the status of bones. Are they in a depleted state for calcium or not needs to be checked.
How to Get This Calcium?
The safest way to get calcium is from food. Calcium from food is absorbed slowly in to the blood stream, not altering the serum calcium levels. Hence, it does not deposit over the organs easily.
While, supplemental Ca quickly raises serum levels, increases chances of its deposition over certain tissues and hence the side effects.
Calcium Rich Food
- All Dairy products, including milk, cheese, curd, yogurt etc.
- Fruit juices, soy milk and other beverages fortified with calcium.
- Green leafy vegetables, Kale.
- Cauliflower, broccoli, especially their stems contain loads of calcium.
- Most of the nuts, including almonds, walnuts etc.
Who is Prone to Calcium Deficiency?
- Post menopausal women
- Patients who have been under long term steroid therapy
- Osteoporotic patients
- Undernourished children or adults taking less of dairy products. These include vegans.
- Those with chronic gut problems, like IBS patients.
Excess Calcium Intake Has side effects
Excess intake of calcium, especially in the form of supplements may raise its serum levels. This may increase chances of its deposition over all sticky locations in the body where our blood flows.
- High levels disturbs our gut. You may feel nauseated and bloated. Gut muscles contract too much to give constipation.
- Heart beats may become temporarily irregular, until the levels normalize again. This may give rise to arrhythmias.
- Headache or feeling of irritation and confusion. Many patients have reported a loss of memory with daily calcium intake. It has now been clinically seen to deteriorate conditions like Dementia.
- Blood vessels may have locations in their walls, where excess fat has been deposited. Calcium sticks to these locations, hardening the deposited fat and further worsening the chances of blood vessel narrowing.
- Any nidus of infection or debris collection in the kidneys may attract excess calcium. Ca gets deposited over it creating kidney stones.
- Injured areas in the heart, muscles or else where are sticky enough to adhere excess calcium. Patient may report worsening of any heart problem, painful muscle cramps.
- Patients with previous history of strokes or any other cerebrovascular event may have focal lesions of injury in the brain. Calcium may get deposited over these lesions, hardening them. This may increase chances of recurrence of those events.
- Deposition of calcium crystals in the joint spaces may inflame it and give you joint pain .This is commonest at the kneed joints. Other locations may be the elbow, ankles, wrist and shoulders.
Lowering Blood Calcium Level
- If your serum show high Ca, stop taking any calcium supplement you’ve been sticking too. High Ca, or Hypercalcemia, is a risky state. You need to inform your doctor about it immediately.
- Continue with the good food you have been recommended, even if its calcium rich.
- Drink plenty of water. This is to aid the kidneys in excreting away the excess mineral. Normally, you need 2 to 3 liters of water per day. Make sure that your intake is more than this.
- If above measures fail to bring down your calcium levels, medications, such as loop diuretics, may be prescribed.