Calcium is one of the most significant minerals for your body. While calcium is needed for various body processes, it is pivotal to maintain healthy teeth and bones. Almost all calcium in the body is stored in bones and teeth. Bones form the backbone for your musculo-skeletal system, and without teeth, you will not be able to relish your favorite cuisines or win hearts with that cheerful smile.
What else do you need calcium for?
The body requires calcium for your muscles to move and for nerves to carry messages to and fro between your brain and other body parts. Not just this, blood vessels move blood throughout your body with the help of calcium. It also plays a role in the release of certain hormones that impact many functions in your body.
Sure you have enough calcium reserves? Book a test and know for yourself.
Calcium for bone and dental health
Not getting enough calcium has been linked with reduced bone mass and increased risk of bone fracture.
The outermost surface of the tooth, called the tooth enamel, is majorly made up of calcium phosphate molecules called hydroxyapatite. It is the hardest tissue in the body- even harder than the bone. It protects your teeth against erosion, decay and grinding pressures.
How does the body maintain blood calcium levels?
Calcium circulation in the blood is stringently regulated at any given time. Your body maintains the equilibrium by an efficient interplay of calcium absorbed (through the intestines), calcium mobilized (into and out of the bones and teeth), and calcium excreted (through the kidneys into the urine).
If the level of calcium in your blood drops, a gland called parathyroid glands releases a hormone called PTH (parathyroid hormone) into the blood. PTH has calcium regulating properties. It signals cells in bone to release calcium from the bone surfaces. It also triggers the kidney to reclaim more calcium before it is taken out in the urine. All of these make up for the lack of calcium in the blood. However, think of a situation where your body is dealing with a lack of calcium continuously, this may cause release of excessive calcium from your bones and teeth. Eventually, weakening your bones and teeth.
How can I get enough calcium naturally?
Your body cannot produce calcium. It needs to be taken through natural sources or calcium supplements. Here is a quick list of natural sources of calcium:
- Curd, Yogurt
- Sardines and salmon
- Green leafy vegetables, such as broccoli, spinach, turnip leaves
- Nuts and seeds, especially almonds, sesame, and chia
- Legumes and grains
- Fortified alternatives like fortified soy milk, fortified fruit juices, etc.
You should aim to get most of your daily nutrient intake from food and beverages, according to the health experts. These foods not only give you calcium but also contain vitamins, other minerals, and abundance of fiber that benefit health. However, if it is difficult to meet daily calcium demands through food, opt for fortified foods and calcium supplements
What happens if I don’t get enough calcium?
Lack of calcium can result into various bone and teeth related conditions like-
- Osteoporosis: A condition that causes weak, fragile bones and increases the risk of falling
- Rickets: A disease in children that results into softer, weaker bones
- Osteomalacia: The bone softening disease in adults is called osteomalacia.
Who can be at risk of having low calcium?
Anyone not getting enough calcium through diet can develop calcium deficiency. However, some specific group of people are more likely than others to have enough calcium levels, including:
- Women after menopause: The body absorbs and retains less calcium after menopause (permanent cessation of periods in women that occurs with age). This makes the bones fragile.
- People who don’t drink milk or eat other dairy products: Dairy products such as milk, paneer, curd are rich sources of calcium. However, people who are intolerant to lactose (milk sugar), have allergies to milk, or choose a vegan diet lose on the rich calcium source. They must look out for other sources of calcium like lactose-free dairy products, canned fish with bones, certain green leafy vegetables or calcium supplements as suggested by your doctor.
Who should consider calcium supplements?
If you have got your full body check up or calcium test done and found yourself deficient in calcium, it is pivotal to increase calcium intake and seek expert guidance if you need supplements.
At large, calcium supplements may be needed by people who follow a vegan diet, do not have enough dairy products, are getting long-term treatment with corticosteroids, and have certain digestive conditions that disrupt calcium absorption.
Calcium supplements are available in many forms and combinations like calcium citrate, calcium carbonate, and along with vitamin D and other minerals. Talk with your doctor or dietitian about which calcium supplement is right for you. A few people may experience gastric upset with supplements. Take your dose with food to reduce the occurrence or intensity of any side effects.