Calcium is the body’s most common mineral, making up 1.5 percent of overall body mass. It’s mostly found in bones and teeth and is responsible for maintaining adequate bone density. However, its equally important role involves intracellular communication called calcium signaling, by which it helps nutrients move across cell membranes. Because calcium is so critical for cells, calcium deficiency triggers the body to remove calcium from bones and teeth and bring them inside cells. This reaction creates an imbalance in which there’s too much calcium inside the cells and not enough outside them. It’s called intracellular hypercalcinosis and can lead to hypertension, hardened arteries, diabetes, cancer, and inflammation.
Getting adequate amounts of absorbable calcium with other key nutrients that support its assimilation reverses and prevents these dangerous effects of hypercalcinosis. Calcium also alleviates PMS, regulates blood pressure, benefits weight loss efforts and helps prevents colon cancer.
Strengthens Bones and Prevents Osteoporosis
In conjunction with vitamin K, calcium helps builds bone solidity. Vitamin K is responsible for transporting calcium into the bones, so calcium simply can’t build strong bones without it. Getting adequate amounts of calcium and vitamin K are critical for preventing osteoporosis, which is a disease in which bone density loss causes brittle, easily breakable bones.
Eliminates or Reduces PMS Symptoms
Low calcium levels release hormones responsible for premenstrual syndrome, which involves symptoms like mood swings, irritability, bloating, acne and appetite changes. On the other hand, getting sufficient amounts of calcium reverses this effect. In a 2017 study published in Obstetrics and Gynecology Science, researchers who administered calcium supplements to one group of women and a placebo to another found that calcium effectively reduced mood disorders during PMS.
Improves Weight Management
In the case of calcium deficiency, the body releases parathyroid hormones, which causes bones and teeth to release calcium into the blood for use. The parathyroid hormone also stimulates fat production and prevents the breakdown of fat, in effect promoting weight gain. By reversing calcium insufficiency, you can lower your risk of obesity and see better results in weight loss efforts.
Regulates Blood Pressure
Calcium has direct involvement with the contraction and relaxation of muscles throughout your cardiovascular system. It affects the constriction and expansion of blood vessels, which in turn determines blood pressure. Low calcium levels causes a hormone called calcitriol to release, which raises blood pressure. In human studies, higher calcium intakes have been found to lower blood pressure in hypertensive patients. Calcium also helps lower triglyceride levels, which further improves the health of blood vessels and your overall cardiovascular system.
Reduces Your Risk of Colon Cancer
Calcium is involved in natural cell death, known as apoptosis. Without enough calcium, abnormal cell growth can proliferate excessively. Calcium helps suppress the development of polyps in the colon, which are abnormal tissue growths that can lead to cancer. This same growth-suppressing action also helps lower your risk of adenomas and non-malignant colon tumors, which are both precursors to colon cancer.
Several human studies have corroborated the link between calcium and colon cancer. Consistently, studies show that calcium supplementation directly correlates with reduced risk of colon cancer. One study found that people who supplemented with 500 mg of calcium per day had a 31 percent reduction in risk. In another study, participants were given 700 mg per day and experienced a 35 to 45 percent reduction in risk. A large-scale study on over 61,000 women compared women taking 400 to 500 mg of calcium per day and women taking 800 to 1000 mg per day. It found that women in the higher calcium intake group were 28 percent less likely to develop colon cancer, compared to those in the lower intake group.
Improves Dental Health and Prevents Gum Disease
Besides its role in building strong teeth, calcium also ensures adequate jawbone structure, which directly ties to the health of your gums. A strong, mineral-dense jaw bone enables teeth to fit tightly within gum tissue. When mineral density in the jaw bone and teeth becomes low, your teeth fit more loosely in the gums. This allows bacteria to settle in the gum lining, increasing your risk of gum disease.
Research studies have confirmed that low calcium intake is a risk factor in gum disease, and shown that increased calcium intake lowers your risk. One survey-based study looked at the correlation between dietary calcium intakes and the incidence of gum disease in women. It reported that women with the lowest of calcium intake levels, below 500 mg per day, had a 54 percent greater risk of gum disease compared to women getting at least 800 mg of calcium per day.
Getting Your Calcium: Pitfalls to Avoid
Signs of calcium deficiency can include osteoporosis, loose teeth, gum disease, heart palpitations, high blood pressure, and muscle aches, twitches, cramps, and spasms. Calcium supplementation helps to reverse these symptoms, but there are a few things you need to know to ensure the calcium you take is getting absorbed. First of all, it’s important to avoid calcium carbonate. It’s made from limestone and is difficult for the bones and teeth to assimilate. As a result, it clogs cells and results in the harmful effects of intracellular hypercalcinosis. Better forms of calcium include calcium citrate, calcium citrate malate, and calcium orotate.
When taking calcium, keep in mind that calcium doesn’t transport itself through the body. It requires the help of other nutrients that mobilize it, and lack of these nutrients can prevent your body from utilizing calcium. Vitamin D is required to stimulate calcium absorption in the digestive tract. Magnesium is crucial for the absorption and metabolism of both vitamin D and calcium. To get the most out of a calcium supplementation regimen, be sure to incorporate these nutrients so that your calcium gets utilized. For added bone-building support, take vitamin K with calcium to maximize the assimilation of calcium into bone tissue.
Increases Bone Density
Calcium is the most abundant mineral found in the body, and 99 percent of it is found in bones. Naturally, it’s the most critical mineral required for bone health. Bone turnover, also called bone metabolism, is the ongoing process by which your skeleton renews its bone tissue by laying down new bone. This requires remineralization, which is why calcium is important to get every day from your diet in sufficient amounts. Calcium supplementation has been linked to increased bone mineral density, which is a measurement that tells you how strong your bones are.
In a study on healthy teenage girls, calcium supplementation significantly increased bone mineral density. After 18 months, total bone mineral density was increased by 1.3 percent, with a 2.9 percent increase in bone mineral density of the spine. A meta-analysis of 19 studies involving nearly 3 thousand children, calcium supplementation was shown to boost bone mineral density. According to the report, it reduces the risk of fracture “to a degree of major public health importance”.
Prevents and Treats Osteoporosis
A small amount of calcium is also required in the bloodstream, where it plays a role in cellular communication. When your dietary intake is insufficient to maintain these levels, calcium-sensing receptors on your parathyroid glands are signaled to release hormones that cause calcium to release from bone. While it’s necessary to maintain cellular function, this takes a toll on your bones, causing a drop in bone density. Over time, low calcium intake puts you at risk of osteoporosis–a medical condition characterized by brittle and easily breakable bones and insufficient bone tissue. Postmenopausal women are at the highest risk of osteoporosis.
Studies have shown that calcium supplementation can slow or reverse osteoporosis by increasing bone mineral density. Additional supplementation with vitamin D improves these results by increasing calcium absorption. Research on older women with osteoporosis found that supplementing with calcium reduced the overall risk of bone fracture, and reduced te risk of vertebral (spinal) fracture by 35 percent.
Calcium in the form of calcium ascorbate has been shown to help reduce pain in patients with osteoarthritis, which is a form of arthritis involving the degeneration of joint cartilage and its underlying bone. In this study, 133 participants took either 1,000 mg of calcium ascorbate or a placebo for just 2 weeks. In this short time, the calcium ascorbate group experienced reduced pain. The researchers attributed the results to calcium remineralization in degraded bone, and the stimulation of collagen by vitamin C (ascorbate), which is the structural protein found in cartilage and bone.
As the most abundant mineral in your body, calcium does much more than build bones. Due to its critical role in cells throughout the entire body, calcium deficiency causes imbalances that lead to serious health risks. The benefits of calcium supplementation have been widely researched, concluding that calcium helps you maintain healthy blood pressure and body weight, keep PMS bay and prevent several diseases, including osteoporosis colon cancer. Supplementing with the right type of calcium, plus nutrients involved in its metabolism, helps you avoid deficiency and reap the protective health benefits of this essential mineral.