Calcium is an important mineral in the human body; 99% of it is present in the bones and teeth. It can be obtained from foods like dairy products, leafy vegetables, fortified foods and legumes.
Throughout one’s life, the bones always break down and rebuild themselves repeatedly, and calcium is very important for this process to go on smoothly. However, as people age, the concentration of calcium in their body starts to decline, so they may need calcium supplements to maintain strong bones and prevent osteoporosis. It is also required for blood clotting and the proper functioning of the heart, hormones, muscles and nerves.
Calcium supplement is used to treat or prevent low calcium levels, osteoporosis, muscle cramps, and PMS. Some studies have also shown that it is used to regulate blood pressure and reduce the risk of cancer, stroke and many other conditions.
The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for calcium depends on a person’s age and condition; for adults (females 19 to 50 years and males 19 to 70 years), the RDA is 1000 mg.
For men and women over 70 and 50 years, respectively, the RDA is 1200 mg, children who are between the ages of 9 and 18 years can take 1300 mg.
The RDA of calcium for pregnant and breastfeeding adult women (19 years and above) is 1000 mg, but for pregnant and breastfeeding adolescent women (15 to 19 years), the RDA is 1300 mg. However, you are not expected to take more than 500 mg per single dose, so you should split the dose 2 or 3 times daily.
Also, remember that these RDAs for calcium can be obtained from diet, so only take calcium supplements when necessary.
Side Effects of Calcium
The possible side effects of calcium include bloating, gas, and constipation; these symptoms are usually due to taking higher doses of calcium.
The calcium supplement usually doesn’t have side effects when taken in recommended doses. High doses of calcium can also lead to hypercalcaemia, which can cause kidney stones or renal damage.
People with kidney disorders can have higher calcium levels if they take calcium supplements, so if you have any kidney problems, talk to your doctor before taking it.
Taking calcium supplements for more than 5 years can increase the risk of developing dementia for people who have had a stroke.
People with low gastric acid tend to absorb less calcium when taken on an empty stomach, so they should take calcium supplements with food.