How Much CALCIUM in The Body Is Too Small Or Too Much?

Getting enough calcium from your diet or supplements is essential for your health. It not only promotes bone and teeth health, but it’s also needed for blood vessel constriction and relaxation, hormone secretion,  muscle contraction and nervous system function.

If you don’t get enough calcium through diet, the body steals some from your bones, which may affect bone strength and put you at a higher risk of osteoporosis(Abnormal loss of bony tissue resulting in fragile porous bones attributable to a lack of calcium; most common in post-menopausal women).

Low levels of calcium causes (Hypo-cal-ce-mia; which is the medical term for not having enough calcium in the blood). People who are hypo-calcemic experience sensations of tingling, numbness and muscle twitches.

One test for low calcium involves tapping the jaw and looking for muscle spasms, a reaction known as Chvostek’s Sign.

However, while this may happen from not getting enough calcium in your diet, it more often happens from hormonal imbalances that throw off the body’s ability to regulate calcium levels.

Because of the connection between calcium and bone health, an array of calcium-fortified foods, drinks, chews and supplements have come on the market to make up for any deficits in our existing diets.

While for some this may be helpful, some women (and men) may be overdosing on calcium. Many studies have shown that getting too much calcium can increase one’s risk of heart problems.


How much calcium should I get?
The Institute of Medicine recommends that adults 19 years old and older get 1,000 mg of calcium per day, with an upper limit of 2,000 mg.

A recently published study revealed that taking excess calcium can be bad for your heart. In one large study, researchers followed of over 60,000 women for nearly two decades.

They found that those who got a lot of calcium in their diet and/or with a supplement had an increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease or heart disease. The increased risk was more pronounced in those who got excess calcium and took a supplement.

There are many explanations for this connection. One in particular relates to how excess calcium can deposit itself on the inside of your arteries.

Normally, arteries are elastic and are able to flex and pulse with every heartbeat. However, as the calcium starts to build up, it deposits in the arteries in layers and gets hard. With this plaque building up, your heart has to work harder in order to effectively pump blood throughout your body, leading to cardiovascular disease.


Are calcium supplements safe?
Depending on one’s need for calcium and risk for osteoporosis, some may benefit from taking a supplement.

Most supplements are safe if used according to its indications and as recommended by a qualified health-care professional.

However, the calcium in your food is more easily absorbed by your body. Doctors recommend getting as much calcium as possible from your diet.


Sources of calcium:
Food
Milk, yogurt, and cheese are rich natural sources of calcium and are the major food contributors.
milk720
Non-dairy sources include vegetables, such as Chinese cabbage, kale, and broccoli. Spinach provides calcium, but its bio-availability is poor. Most grains do not have high amounts of calcium unless they are fortified; however, they contribute calcium to the diet because they contain small amounts of calcium and people consume them frequently. Foods fortified with calcium include many fruit juices and drinks, and cereals. Selected food sources of calcium are listed in the Table below.
 
Selected Food Sources of Calcium. *DV (Daily Value) 
Food Milligrams (mg)
per serving
Percent DV*
Yogurt, plain, low fat, 8 ounces41542



Sardines, canned in oil, with bones, 3 ounces32533
Yogurt, fruit, low fat, 8 ounces313–38431–38
Cheddar cheese, 1.5 ounces30731
Milk, nonfat, 8 ounces**29930
Soymilk, calcium-fortified, 8 ounces29930
Milk, reduced-fat (2% milk fat), 8 ounces29329
Milk, buttermilk, lowfat, 8 ounces28428
Milk, whole (3.25% milk fat), 8 ounces27628
Orange juice, calcium-fortified, 6 ounces26126
Tofu, firm, made with calcium sulfate, ½ cup***25325
Salmon, pink, canned, solids with bone, 3 ounces18118
Cottage cheese, 1% milk fat, 1 cup13814
Tofu, soft, made with calcium sulfate, ½ cup***13814
Ready-to-eat cereal, calcium-fortified, 1 cup 100–1,00010–100
Frozen yogurt, vanilla, soft serve, ½ cup 10310
Turnip greens, fresh, boiled, ½ cup 9910
Kale, raw, chopped, 1 cup 10010
Kale, fresh, cooked, 1 cup 949
Ice cream, vanilla, ½ cup 848
Chinese cabbage 1 cup 747
Bread, white, 1 slice 737
Pudding, chocolate, ready to eat, refrigerated, 4 ounces 556
Tortilla, corn, ready-to-bake/fry, one 6" diameter465
Tortilla, flour, ready-to-bake/fry, one 6" diameter 323
Sour cream, reduced fat, cultured, 2 tablespoons 313
Bread, whole-wheat, 1 slice 303
Broccoli, raw, ½ cup 212
Cheese, cream, regular, 1 tablespoon 141
* DV = Daily Value.
Foods providing 20% of more of the DV are considered to be high sources of a nutrient, but foods providing lower percentages of the DV also contribute to a healthful diet.
** Calcium content varies slightly by fat content; the more fat, the less calcium the food contains.
*** Calcium content is for tofu processed with a calcium salt. Tofu processed with other salts does not provide significant amounts of calcium.
If you still think you’re not getting enough calcium from your food, you can take a 600 mg of supplemental calcium, which is often found in a daily multivitamin.

Credit: Doctor Oz Blog, National Institute of Health, USA 

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