Calcium is a critical component of strong and healthy bones. People who want to build and maintain strong bones should increase their calcium intake. The same is valid for people looking to reduce their chances of contracting colon cancer. Even those who want to reduce weight should boost their calcium intake.
The use of calcium to bolster the body's immune system has been happening for many centuries. However, modern researchers believe that too much intake of calcium may be a health hazard.
Common Perception About Calcium
We have all grown up believing that calcium-rich meals are essential for strong joints. If you want to have healthy teeth, your milk intake must go. You will create a robust blood clotting system and improve your muscle contractions. Some scientific publications even suggest that calcium-rich milk can regulate your heartbeat.
While it is indeed true that there are significant quantities of calcium in our bones, it is not true that you need it in large amounts. Since your body can't naturally come up with the mineral, you have to get it from food. Most people have no problem doing this, except that other people overdo it.
Too Much Calcium Intake
An increasingly vast body of researchers believes that consuming more than 1,300 milligrams of calcium every day can increase strokes and heart attack risk. But more importantly, there is a clear indication that calcium can lead to muscle pains and other types of aches.
When people realize that they're not getting enough calcium, they tend to overreact. Solving your low calcium intake is not a simple thing. Just increasing the number of calcium supplements in your diet will not solve the problem. In any case, your 'solution' may concentrate too much calcium within your body. The blood will have so much calcium, some of which it will deposit in your joints. This will lead to painful joints as well as other risks.
Acute Crystal Arthritis
Acute calcium pyrophosphate arthritis is the presence of extreme pain in the joints. The disease arises from the high concentration of calcium crystals in the bones. These crystals rub the soft tissues surrounding the bones. It's normally common in the knees, but some people have reported it in other joints of the body.
As you age, your body undergoes several changes. One of these is its inability to prevent the formation of calcium crystals. This condition is referred to as hyperparathyroidism. It is where your parathyroid glands achieve a level of activity not seen before. These are the same glands that are responsible for regulating the amount of calcium in the blood. When they become overactive, they begin to absorb high amounts of calcium.
The calcium is deposited in the cartridge area, which is an area sandwiched between the joint bones. This cavity usually is empty, but the arrival of calcium crystals creates a hard substance and causes swelling.
Once too many crystals have accumulated on your cartilage, they begin to shed off. The deposits will cause inflammation and pain at the point where they shed off. Unfortunately, you may not know that you have crystals in your bones for many years.
Not all the pain in the joints is caused by calcium crystals. Nevertheless, if you experience stiffness and severe pain, especially at the knee, you may be consuming too much calcium.
Moreover, this pain occurs quickly and can reach painful levels in less than a day. It is then followed by swelling in the joints and a fever. You will feel unwell, and some parts of your skin may turn red.
Although most patients have joint pain in the knee, others have confirmed pain in the ankle, shoulder, or wrist. It's rare for all joints to be affected at the same time.
Too Little Calcium Intake
Before discussing the effects of too much calcium, it is essential to know what will happen if you don't take enough calcium. First, you will need abundant levels of vitamin D in your body. Vitamin D is the element that absorbs calcium into the body. Consequently, it doesn't matter how much calcium you have in your diet if your meals don't contain enough vitamin D.
Low amounts of calcium in the body have been associated with weak bone conditions. Your bones become softer and more fragile. Soon, you will develop a bow-legged shape. If that condition persists, you may lose your teeth. Some people have reported that their bones got broken due to insufficient calcium.
Over time, low levels of calcium will cause hypocalcemia. This is a disease with no symptoms during the initial stages. As the disease progresses, you will experience numbness, depression, and occasional memory loss. Other symptoms will include cramps and tingling.
The risk of suffering from hypocalcemia increases with age. It is more rampant among women in the post menopause stage. It has also been identified in vegans and people who don't take dairy products.
The Right Amount of Calcium
There is no set standard among dietitians and nutritionists. The US government recommends daily calcium consumption of about 1200 milligrams. On the other hand, UK medical experts discourage people from consuming more than 700 milligrams per day. Seven hundred milligrams is an amount that you can get from a balanced diet. For example, if you take milk products every morning, you will achieve your daily calcium intake. Alternatively, you can consume more vegetables and some types of fish.
A typical glass of milk has about 300 milligrams of calcium. Similarly, a fruit yogurt weighing 8 ounces has about 350 milligrams of calcium. Your body will get enough calcium if you consume one glass of milk and 8 ounces of fruit yogurt. Besides, you can consume six ounces of large green salads every day.
Calcium does not work in isolation in the body. It coordinates with other nutrients to enhance its integration into the cells. Perhaps an essential nutrient as far as calcium is concerned is vitamin D. You can boost your calcium absorption levels by increasing your vitamin D intake. Vitamin D is naturally obtained from sunlight, which is in short supply during the winter.
While you definitely should take calcium supplements in post-menopause and during pregnancy, you have to take them in moderation. You can contact us for more information about calcium intake.