Well accepted fact that calcium is required for strong and dense bone and optimal for Bone health throughout our life. And indeed, a little negligence can results into major ailing in later years.
Taking too little calcium leads to ‘Hypocalcemia’. Muscle cramps, Confusion, Depression, Tingling, Achy muscle are the generally observed Symptoms of Hypocalcemia for which your Doctor & Dietitian may suggest you for the supplement and dietary modifications.
Whenever we think for calcium, the glass of Milk appears in front of us. True that Milk has good calcium but those who simply has a dislike or have intolerance, they can switch to alternate sources. Ofcourse, the Biological availability (degree to which food nutrients are available for absorption and utilization in the body) of dairy and other source will vary. So, better to take opinion from Registered Dietitian.
For Lactose intolerant -Calcium fortified soy milk, tofu, soya nuts, Bok choy etc. You can also use Lactose drops/tablets in milk to reduce the lactose content.
What is the Requirement ?
Pre menopausal and post menopausal women on Estrogen Replacement Therapy requires 1000-1200mg Calcium/day. For Pregnant and Lactating Mother, requirement goes to 1500 mg/ day.
Work as a guard of “maintenance crew”
There are two groups of special cells : Osteoclast and Osteoblast who together helps to frame our bone. Studies suggest that as we Age, this crew become less efficient in working together.
Adequate calcium may slow the bone loss and reduce the risk of fracture .
Is supplement required ?
If you are already taking enough calcium in your diet, there is no need to take supplement. Check it with your Clinical Dietitian. Extra dietary calcium is not harmful. However, taking it from supplement may be harmful as this is associated with disease condition like kidney stones, prostate cancer, digestive problems etc.
How to take Supplements :
1. With Food or, immediately after eating. It is absorbed more effectively when there is Food in the stomach. Drugs/supplement having calcium citrate, Calcium Lactate, Calcium Gluconate are well absorbed at any time.
2. Take it with plenty of water.
3. Prefer not to take more than 500-600 mg of elemental calcium at one time.
4. Antacids are acceptable source of calcium, should be taken at mealtime for its better absorption.
Side effects of supplement:
Stomach upset, Constipation, Nausea, Acid rebound are most commonly seen.
Food and Drug interaction:
1. Antacid- Large dose of calcium interfere with absorption of variety of drugs. People who are on Antacids or, taking Beta Blockers should discuss with their Doctor about the drug effectiveness along with calcium supplement.
2. Phytic acid – Among the foods high in phytic acid are fiber-containing whole-grain products and wheat bran, beans, seeds, nuts, and soy isolates. The extent to which these compounds affect calcium absorption varies.
3. Oxalic Acid- Foods with high levels of oxalic acid include spinach, collard greens, sweet potatoes, rhubarb, and beans. This binds with calcium and form insoluble salt crystal and affects digestive system. Research shows that eating spinach and milk together reduces absorption of the calcium in milk. In contrast, wheat products (with the exception of wheat bran) do not appear to lower calcium absorption.
4. Hydrochloric Acid (HCL) and stress – HCL is secreted in stomach during digestion to begin breakdown of dietary fats. HCL is needed for absorption of calcium n duodenum( upper part of small intestine).
5. Caffeine and Alcohol– Both acts as a vaso constrictor which results into more fluid excretion from kidney which leads to calcium deficiency.
6. Age- children absorb 50-70% of dietary calcium, Adults absorb 30- 50 % only. Research study suggests as we age, the “Maintenance crew” of our body become less efficient in working together. (Read above)
What to be eaten to increase calcium absorption :
1. Vit D supplement / sunlight exposure
2. Vit. C
Hormone role in absorption of Calcium
When blood level fall below desired amount, the parathyroid gland gets signal to release parathyroid hormone. This converts Vit D into calcitriol which stimulates bones to release calcium.
Take your pick :
- Include High Biological Value calcium sources. Calculate your calcium intake with the help of Registered Dietitian who can plan your diet accordingly.
- Some good combination of Food for better calcium absorption- Broccoli with cheese, salmon with Green leafy salad, Beans veg with Lettuce salad.
- Don’t consume large amount of calcium at any time. By doing so, all calcium will not be absorbed. Consume small portion throughout the day.
By Smriti Jha