Why Everyone Needs Calcium
Calcium is a vital addition to your diet since daily calcium consumption has been shown to be integral to maintain bone density, and bone strength in women and men. Calcium also plays an important role in muscular contraction as it assists with regulating heartbeat, and in the transmission of nerve impulses. Studies also show that adequate calcium is needed for proper blood clotting, to help maintain the walls of blood vessels and may help in the prevention of colon cancer. But, is taking a calcium supplement enough? Not necessarily.
It is also very important to have the correct form of calcium, from both foods and nutritional supplements, along with all the necessary cofactors for absorption, assimilation and metabolism. Studies show that vitamins A, D, additional minerals and trace minerals all work synergistically to allow the body to utilize calcium. When all the proper materials are combined, calcium is called “bioavailable.” This means it is ready for use in the body. Calcium research has shown it to be one of the dietary factors associated with the risk of developing osteoporosis, the loss of bone mass. An adequate intake of calcium throughout life–seen as especially critical from birth to the age of twenty-five–helps build bone density and may reduce the risk of developing osteoporosis. Currently over 20 million American women and more than 5 million men are affected by osteoporosis.
Estimates attribute more than 1.5 million bone/skeletal fractures per year to osteoporosis, including but not limited to hip, vertebral and wrist fractures. The acute and long-term medical care costs related to these fractures are estimated at roughly $10–$18 billion dollars. Due to the dramatic growth of the elderly population, and the rise in the occurrence of fractures in young adults, osteoporosis is becoming a critical public health issue of potentially epidemic proportions.
The Bone Growth Process
Research shows that bone mass in humans begins to accumulate in infancy and continues to increase throughout childhood and young adulthood. Calcium intake during this time must be high enough to maintain the structural integrity of the bones and to compensate for normal metabolic loss. Studies show bone mass continues to increase up through the twenties, and may extend further into the thirties. It is vitally important to consume the recommended amounts of calcium during the formative years to achieve maximum bone formation and to continue to meet the RDA allowances.
About 99% of body calcium resides in the bones, while the remaining 1% circulates and is involved in the normal functioning of the body. The skeleton could be considered as a bone bank; as we age it is important to have a lot of calcium in the bank. This can be accomplished by eating calcium rich foods, performing weight bearing exercise, getting enough vitamins A, D & C, and also by using a balanced calcium and mineral supplement. If the daily calcium intake is not sufficient, studies show the body will begin to cannibalize its bones, robbing them to meet the calcium deficit. Years of inadequate calcium intake may result in osteoporosis and poor bone health. Consequently, it is important to consume enough calcium and the necessary cofactors for absorption, assimilation and metabolism everyday, through food and nutritional supplementation.
Absorption is the Key
The ability to absorb calcium may decrease with age. During childhood, when there is rapid bone growth, the body can absorb up to 75%. For absorption to occur, research shows it is necessary to consume supportive minerals which work as cofactors, such as magnesium, manganese, silicon, fluoride, copper, zinc, boron and phosphorus. While phosphorus and fluoride are generally plentiful in the American Diet, the remaining minerals and trace minerals usually require supplementation to achieve RDA levels. Lactose and protein are dietary factors which have also been shown to affect absorption as well as too much caffeine and alcohol. As physical growth slows down, the body's absorption of nutrients slows down.
The Exercise Connection
Weight bearing and weight lifting exercise is also a very important factor in helping the body build and maintain bone density at all ages. Bone mass increases in response to the quantity and quality of stress placed upon it from physical activity throughout the life span. For the health of our bones, and for general health, it is important to perform some type of weight bearing exercise, i.e. walking briskly 20 to 30 minutes, three to four times per week to aid and maintain healthy bone formation.
The Dietary Connection
Studies worldwide acknowledge eating foods rich in calcium and vitamin D, combined with a calcium supplement, as the way to promote adequate intake. Adequate intake is critically important to assist the body in avoiding chronic medical conditions. Researchers find the best source of calcium is “dietary” calcium, meaning the source is supplied by foods that are eaten. Unfortunately, many people simply cannot eat enough dairy products, green leafy vegetables, salmon and sardines to supply the calcium that the body needs for optimal functioning. Consequently, a lifelong need for calcium supplementation to guarantee intake at Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) levels may occur. In two recent studies published in the New England Journal of Medicine, research indicated a link to calcium supplementation and maintaining bone density.
A recent report from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), stated that most Americans need to consume more calcium. (The table below shows the recommendations of the panel along with RDA values.) A look at the table illustrates that in some cases the RDA is well below the calcium intake recommendations. The NIH also recommends that daily calcium intake not exceed 2,000 milligrams. Furthermore, the NIH also noted that about half of the American population is estimated to consume less than 600 milligrams of calcium daily, which has been determined to be inadequate for good health.
* These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. This information is nutritional in nature and should not be construed as medical advice. This notice is required by the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act.
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