Calcium & The Body – An Overview

Over the years, clinicians and medical professionals have emphasized the importance of calcium in the human body. In turn, the food industry has fortified our orange juice, our cereals, our milk, and our breads with it. This is a great thing! Otherwise, most of us would not get the 1,000 mg per day recommended by the National Institute of Health. At Accesa Health, calcium is one of the ingredients that is in our Myers’ cocktail for the very same reason.

Calcium supplementation is essential, especially as we get older.  In an article from the Cleveland Clinic, “Until about age 30, a person normally builds more bone than he or she loses. After age 35, bone breakdown overtakes bone buildup, which causes a gradual loss of bone mass.”

First, what exactly is calcium?
• Calcium is a mineral. It cannot be produced by the body itself, but it has to be consumed in your diet, supplement form….or a Myers’ Cocktail.
• One down side to taking calcium in supplement form is that there may be a greater risk for developing kidney stones. If you have ever had those, you know that they are something to avoid at all costs…am I right?

How does calcium work in the body?
• Calcium has many effects in the body but is most commonly associated with bone structure. Stored in the bones, the adult male body contains approximately 2.6 lbs. of calcium and the adult female contains 2.2 lbs.
• To get into and out of the bones from the digestive system or blood system, calcium also requires help from the following:
1. lactose (naturally in milk),
2. Vitamin D (your body produces this when you get out in the sun!),
3. Calcitrol (one of the body’s natural hormones)

What effects does calcium have on the body?
• It initiates and controls muscle contraction and relaxation. This is REALLY important because your heart is a muscle. If your calcium levels are not normal, it could cause your heart to beat irregularly or to stop completely.
• Over time, calcium reduces weight gain.
• Calcium also stabilizes elements involved in clotting.
• Another important function that calcium has is directing nerve signals. Better nerve conduction makes your body much more efficient, and your mind seemingly more aware.
• Calcium also boosts your immune system.

Can you have calcium while you are pregnant?
• Absolutely! In fact, it is found in prenatal vitamins.

What should you eat to ensure that you are getting the calcium that you need?
• Vegetable juice
• Collard greens
• Kale
• Figs
• Broccoli
• Soybeans
• Almonds
• Milk
• As mentioned before, fortified cereals, orange juice, and fortified breads.

So, now that you know what calcium is, what it does, and how you can find it at your local grocery store, there are a few things you should be aware of. We here at Accesa Health want you to be able to get enough calcium SAFELY. There are a handful of medications that you may be taking for your blood pressure, indigestion, osteoporosis, or your thyroid that may influence your calcium levels. Here is a short list from the NIH, but please be sure to consult your primary care physician before starting on any sort of supplement or medicinal regimen:

• Bisphosphonates (osteoporosis treatment)
• Lasix or Bumex (loop diuretics)
• Antacids with aluminum
• Prednisone (steroid, anti-inflammatory)
• Levothyroxine
• Phenytoin (anticonvulsant)

Calcium is a mineral that the body cannot make for itself so we have to get it from other places. But there is something between your plate at dinner and your bones that is a force to be reckoned with. Your digestive system. In the digestion process, some of the ingested calcium may be lost. This is why many of us do not get the calcium that we need! We may eat all 1000 mg that we need for one day, but all of that calcium may not make it to our bones or blood system because of the digestive process. If you get the calcium intravenously, the calcium will bypass the whole digestive system and nothing is lost!

Only 20%-60% of consumed of ingested calcium ever makes it past the digestive system. For example, if you took 1,000 mg worth of calcium supplements in pill form and only 40% of what you ingested ever got to your bones, you would have only gotten 400 mg! All the while, you’re sitting there thinking that you got all the calcium that you needed for the day. It is no wonder that we don’t always get the calcium we need!

Also, as we age, the amount of calcium that actually makes it to the bones continues to get lower. In turn, we develop health problems like osteoporosis. Women in menopause have the greatest risk for developing menopause as studies have shown a direct correlation between lower low estrogen levels and osteoporosis. In fact, women are 4 times more likely to develop osteoporosis than men. In order to prevent that, we need to make sure that we are getting our calcium. Especially the ladies! Prevention is key!

That, readers, is WHY calcium is so very important to your health. We are asking you to pay attention to what you are eating or feeding your loved ones. An ounce of prevention goes a long way in staying healthy. Weare here to help you have your best life possible; and part of that is being proactive in maintaining your health.

If you have any questions, please contact your primary care physician or the Accesa Health Team.