Many people take calcium supplements with the hope of increasing bone health.
However, they may have limitations and even health risks, including an increased risk of heart disease .
This article explains what you need to know about calcium supplements, including those who should take them, health benefits and potential risks.
Why do you need calcium?
The body needs calcium to build and maintain strong bones. More than 99% of calcium in the body is stored in bones and teeth .
In the blood, it is used to send nerve signals, release hormones such as insulin, and regulate how muscles and blood vessels shrink and expand .
It is important that if you do not receive the recommended amount in the diet, the body will extract calcium from bones and teeth for use elsewhere, weakening your bones.
So how much calcium do you need each day?
Here are the current recommendations of the Institute of Medicine based on age :
- Women 50 and younger: 1,000 mg daily.
- Men aged 70 or younger: 000 mg per day.
- Women over 50: 1,200 mg / day.
- Men over 70: 1,200 mg / day.
There is also an upper limit recommended for consumption of calcium. Maximum 2,500 mg daily for adults up to 50 years and 2,000 mg daily for adults over 50 years old .
There may be enough amount needed through diet. Foods containing calcium include dairy products, some green leafy vegetables, nuts, beans and tofu.
However, those who do not eat enough calcium-rich food Can consider using functional foods.
Summary: Your body uses calcium to build strong bones, send nerve and muscle signals. While the diet may provide the necessary amount, some people may need to consider taking supplements.
Who should take calcium supplements?
When calcium is not enough, the body will take calcium from the bones, making them weak and brittle. This may cause .
Because women are at high risk for osteoporosis, many doctors recommend that they take calcium supplements, especially after menopause.
Therefore, older women are more likely to take calcium supplements .
If you do not receive the recommended amount of dietary supplements, supplements can help supplement the deficiency.
You can also consider calcium supplements if:
- Following a vegan diet.
- Having a high-protein or high-sodium diet can make your body excrete more calcium.
- There is a condition that limits the body's ability to absorb calcium, such as Crohn's disease or inflammatory bowel disease.
- Being treated with corticosteroids for a long time.
- Having osteoporosis.
Summary: Calcium supplements can benefit people who do not have enough calcium from food and menopausal women.
Benefits of calcium supplements
Calcium supplements can have some health benefits.
They may help prevent bone loss in postmenopausal women
After menopause, women lose bone due to estrogen decline.
Fortunately, functional foods help in this case. Some studies suggest that postmenopausal women taking calcium supplements - usually about 1,000 mg daily - may reduce bone loss by 1-2% .
The effect seems to be greatest in women with low calcium intake and in the first two years of supplementation.
In addition, there does not appear to be any other benefit when using higher doses .
They can help reduce fat
Studies have linked low calcium consumption to high body mass index (BMI) and high body fat percentage .
A 2016 study examined the impact of daily intake of 600 mg of calcium on overweight and obese students with very low calcium consumption.
Research has shown that people who received 600 mg of calcium and 125 IU of vitamin D and a calorie-restricted diet reduced body fat compared with those who were not supplemented .
Should use vitamin D along with calcium because it helps calcium absorption better.
Calcium may help reduce the risk of colon cancer
According to a large study, calcium in dairy products and dietary supplements may reduce the risk of colon cancer .
A previous review of 10 studies showed similar results .
Calcium supplements can help improve metabolic signals
Some studies have suggested that taking calcium supplements may improve metabolic signals, especially when taken with vitamin D.
In a 2016 study, 42 pregnant women took calcium and vitamin D supplements. Some of their metabolic signals improved, including blood pressure and inflammation .
Other studies have shown that children of women taking calcium supplements during pregnancy have lower blood pressure at age seven than those of mothers who do not use it .
In a recent study, more than 100 overweight women, vitamin D deficiency had polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) supplemented with calcium and vitamin D or placebo.
People taking diet supplements showed improved signs of inflammation, insulin and triglycerides .
However, other studies have shown no improvement in the metabolism of dieters with calcium and vitamin D supplements .
Summary: Studies have linked calcium supplementation with low risk of colon cancer and blood pressure, as well as fat loss and increased bone density.
Calcium supplements can be dangerous
Recent research shows that calcium supplements actually cause some health problems. However, the evidence is not consistent.
They may increase your risk of heart disease
Perhaps the most controversial opinion about calcium supplements is that they can increase the risk of certain cardiovascular diseases, including heart attack and stroke.
Over the past few years, researchers have published results against this link .
Final studies are needed to confirm the effect of calcium supplements on cardiovascular health.
Some experts believe that taking calcium with vitamin D may neutralize possible risks, but this needs further study .
High calcium levels can cause prostate cancer
High calcium levels may be related to prostate cancer, although research on this relationship is also conflicting.
In some studies, most of them are observations, researchers found that high calcium levels may be associated with an increased risk of prostate cancer .
However, a randomized controlled study gave 672 men taking calcium or placebo supplements daily for four years that showed that participants had no increased risk of prostate cancer. .
In fact, there are few cases of prostate cancer among participants taking functional foods .
Other studies show dairy products may be the culprit. An overview of 32 articles indicates that consumption of dairy products - not calcium supplements - is associated with an increased risk of prostate cancer .
Increased risk of kidney stones
There is some evidence that supplements of calcium supplements increase the risk of kidney stones.
One study gave more than 36,000 postmenopausal women a daily supplement containing 1,000 mg of calcium and 400 IU of vitamin D or a placebo.
The results showed that people who took supplements were at increased risk of kidney stones .
Furthermore, while people taking dietary supplements in the study increased their hip density, those who did not use it had a lower risk of hip fracture.
According to the Institute of Medicine, consuming more than 2,000 mg of calcium a day from diet or dietary supplements is also associated with an increased risk of kidney stones .
Other sources say that the risk of kidney stones increases as the amount of calcium exceeds 1,200-1,500 mg daily .
Too much calcium in the blood leads to a condition called hypercalcaemia, manifested in many negative symptoms, including stomach pain, nausea, discomfort and depression.
This may be due to a number of reasons, including dehydration, thyroid status and heavy intake of calcium supplements.
Excessive vitamin D supplementation can also lead to hypercalcemia by encouraging the body to absorb more calcium from the diet.
Summary: Calcium supplements can increase your risk of heart disease and prostate cancer, although this relationship is not clear. Too much calcium from any source can have negative health effects.
Things to consider when taking calcium supplements
If you take calcium supplements, there are a few factors you need to know.
How much should I use?
Calcium supplements can help fill the gap between the calcium you get in your diet and the daily intake.
Remember, the recommended amount for most adults is 1,000 mg daily and increases to 1,200 mg daily for women over 50 and men over 70 years old.
Therefore, if you usually only get about 500 mg per day through food and 1,000 mg per day, you can take an additional 500 mg tablet daily .
However, choose the dose wisely. Drinking more calcium than needed can cause problems .
You may need to split the dose
It is important to check the amount of calcium in the supplements you choose.
Your body cannot absorb high doses at the same time. Experts recommend taking no more than 500 mg each time as a dietary supplement .
Interaction with drugs
Be sure to notify your doctor and pharmacist if you are taking calcium supplements as they may interfere with the mechanism of handling certain drugs, including antibiotics and iron supplements.
Calcium also competes with iron, zinc and magnesium to be absorbed. If you lack these minerals and also need calcium supplements, try taking them between meals .
In this way, calcium is less likely to inhibit the absorption of zinc, iron and magnesium that you consume during meals.
Risk of excessive use of calcium
Remember, you only need 1,000-1,200 mg of calcium per day. Using more than that doesn't benefit anything. In fact, you may have problems using too much calcium.
Problems include constipation, hypercalcaemia, calcium accumulation in soft tissues and difficulty in iron and zinc absorption .
Summary: When you take calcium supplements, it is important to consider the type, amount and whether they interact with other medicines you are taking.
Types of calcium supplements
Calcium supplements come in many different forms, including pills, capsules, chewing gum, liquids and powders.
A major difference between these functional foods is format calcium contained in it.
There are two main types:
- Calcium carbonate
- Calcium citrate
These two types differ in the amount of elemental calcium and how they are absorbed. Elemental calcium is the amount of calcium in the compound.
This is the cheapest and most available form. It contains 40% of elemental calcium and therefore often provides a lot of calcium in a serving.
However, this form is more likely to cause side effects, such as heartburn, bloating and constipation. Calcium carbonate should be used with food to maximize absorption .
This type is more expensive. It contains 21% of elemental calcium, meaning you need to take more capsules to get the calcium you need.
However, it is more easily absorbed than calcium carbonate and can be taken with or without food.
Calcium citrate is the recommended form for people with irritable bowel syndrome.
It is also a better choice for people with low stomach acid levels, a condition common in the elderly and those taking medication for acid reflux .
Summary: The two main forms of calcium supplements are calcium carbonate and calcium citrate. Calcium carbonate needs to be used with food and will be less effective if you have low stomach acid levels.
Food sources of calcium
It is best to consume nutrients from food rather than using functional foods.
However, if you think you don't have enough calcium in your diet, consider eating more of these foods:
- Dairy products, including milk, cheese and yogurt .
- Canned fish have bones, such as salmon or sardines.
- Some green leafy vegetables include spinach, spinach and Kale .
- Edamame beans and Tofu .
- Bean and lentils.
- Enhanced food and drink.
Summary: You can get enough calcium every day from food. Calcium supplements include yogurt, certain leafy greens, tofu and canned fish.
Calcium supplements can help people at risk of osteoporosis, as well as those who do not get enough calcium in their diet.
While some studies show a link between calcium supplements and heart disease, this relationship is not clear.
However, consuming a lot of calcium at a dose higher than the recommended level from any source may increase your risk of kidney stones.
Calcium supplements can be good in small doses, but the best source of calcium is from food. It is better to put more calcium-rich foods into the diet, including from non-dairy sources.