In the world today, there are a lot of demands from work that one has to face in order to become successful in his chosen field. One cannot afford to relax and wait for luck. He has to give his fair share of efforts, energy and resources in this competitive world and gain his rightful place in the world of work. Because of this fact, we need to take care of our body and ensure that it functions well.
Once the body fails us, we are at the losing end in our battles. With this premise, supplementing our body with the right nutrients it needs can take us a long way. One very familiar supplement in the market today is the calcium supplement.
What is Calcium Supplement?
The most abundant mineral in the body is calcium and is found in some foods, added to others, available as a dietary supplement, and present in some medicines. It is required for vascular contraction and vasodilation, muscle function, nerve transmission, intracellular signaling and hormonal secretion (1). Indeed, calcium is a mineral that is necessary for life. It is beneficial in building bones and keeping them healthy (2). Moreover, it enables our blood to clot, our muscles to contract, and our heart to beat (3). About 99% of the calcium in our bodies is in our bones and teeth (4).
The fact is that we lose calcium through our skin, nails, hair, sweat, urine and feces every day and our bodies cannot produce its own calcium (5). That’s why it’s important to get enough calcium from the food we eat, otherwise, it is taken from our bones (6). When it becomes excessive or happens too often, bones get weak and easier to break.
Calcium Supplement Benefits
1. Supports bone health
Getting enough calcium in your diet is equally important for both older people and young people since we continue building bone mass into our mid-20s. From then on, we can lose bone mass without sufficient calcium in our diets (7). Regardless of age or gender, it’s vital to include calcium-rich foods in diet, limit those that deplete calcium, and get enough magnesium and vitamins D and K to help calcium do its job (8). Calcium is likely one of the most important supplements you can take when you have osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is a “silent” disease characterized by loss of bone mass (9). Due to weakened bones, fractures become commonplace, which leads to serious health risks. Fortunately, osteoporosis is preventable, and getting enough calcium in your diet is the first place to start (10).
2. Balances blood pressure
Calcium may reduce blood pressure or the risk of hypertension. Some clinical trials have found a relationship between calcium intake and hypertension risk (11). Small changes in systolic blood pressure have been noted, but the type of effect may depend on the population being studied. The effects vary between people with high blood pressure as opposed to people with normal blood pressure (12).
3. Maintains cardiovascular system
Calcium plays a key role in blood clotting. This is a complex process that involves a number of steps and involve a range of chemicals, including calcium. Calcium’s role in muscle function includes maintaining the action of the heart muscle and relaxes the smooth muscle that surrounds blood vessels (13). According to various studies, there is a possible link between high consumption of calcium and lower blood pressure (14). Vitamin D is also essential for bone health, and it helps the body absorb calcium (15).
4. Reduces colorectal cancer
Data from observational and experimental studies on the potential role of calcium in preventing colorectal cancer are highly suggestive of a protective effect (16). Several studies have found that higher intakes of calcium from foods or supplements are associated with a decreased risk of colon cancer (17). A follow-up study to the Calcium Polyp Prevention Study reveals that supplementation with calcium carbonate led to reductions in the risk of adenoma in the colon, a precursor to cancer (18).
5. Prevents preeclampsia
Pregnant women often develop a serious medical condition called preeclampsia. It is a condition in which a pregnant woman start to experience hypertension and proteinuria, usually after 20 weeks’ gestation (19). Such condition is a leading cause of maternal and neonatal morbidity and mortality, affecting about 5–8% of pregnancies in the United States and up to 14% of pregnancies worldwide (20). Studies suggest that calcium supplementation during pregnancy reduces the risk of preeclampsia (21).
6. Combats kidney disease
Kidney stones in the urinary tract are most commonly composed of calcium oxalate (22). Some studies suggest a positive association between supplemental calcium intake and the risk of kidney stones (23). The Nurses’ Health Study also showed a positive association between supplemental calcium intake and kidney stone formation (24). High intakes of dietary calcium, on the other hand, do not appear to cause kidney stones and may actually protect against developing them (25).
7. Promotes weight loss
Research shows that calcium enhances fat burning. According to a research published in the International Journal of Obesity, 1,200 milligrams of supplemental calcium per day decreased production of fatty acid synthase (26). In addition, calcium promotes lasting satiation. Researchers tested the effects calcium has on appetite in 13 men and seven women in a double-blind study (27). Blood samples were collected as a baseline and in 15-minute intervals for an hour after eating. After an hour, participants were given a standardized test meal and researchers found preloading with protein led to almost perfect energy compensation (28). In addition, they also found calcium, with or without protein, suppressed appetite (29). Such can also contribute to weight loss.
Calcium Supplements Side Effects
Unfortunately, calcium supplements aren’t for everyone. If one has a health condition that causes excess calcium in the bloodstream (hypercalcemia), this supplement should be avoided. This so because there may be a link between calcium supplements and heart disease (30). A similar controversy surrounds calcium and prostate cancer (31). Moreover, other studies show that high calcium intake from dairy products and supplements may increase risk, whereas another more recent study showed no increased risk of prostate cancer associated with total calcium, dietary calcium or supplemental calcium intakes (32).
In addition, calcium supplements can have a mild binding effect but by themselves don’t usually cause serious constipation. But if you’re taking another supplement or medication that binds the stool, the addition of calcium supplements could cause a problem (33). These findings entail that it is important to be careful to avoid excessive amounts of calcium. More importantly, it is advised to talk to your doctor to determine what’s right for you.