The Low Carb Diabetic: Calcium

Calcium plays a role in your body’s functions

Calcium plays a role in many of your body’s basic functions. Your body needs calcium in order to circulate blood, move muscles, and release hormones. Calcium also helps carry messages from your brain to other parts of your body.

Calcium is a major part of tooth and bone health as well. It makes your bones strong and dense. You can think of your bones as your body’s calcium reservoir. If you don’t get enough calcium in your diet, your body will take it from your bones.

Your body doesn’t produce calcium
Your body doesn’t produce calcium, so you have to rely on your diet to get the calcium you need. Foods that are high in calcium include:

  • dairy products such as milk, cheese, and yogurt
  • dark green vegetables such as a kale, spinach, and broccoli
  • white beans
  • sardines
  • calcium-fortified breads, cereals, soy products, and orange juices

You need vitamin D to absorb calcium
Your body needs vitamin D in order to absorb calcium. That means you won’t fully benefit from a calcium-rich diet if you are low on vitamin D.

You can get vitamin D from certain foods, such as salmon, eggs yolks, and some mushrooms. Like calcium, some food products have vitamin D added to them. For example, some milk often has added vitamin D.

Sunshine is your best source of vitamin D. Your skin naturally produces vitamin D when exposed to the sun. Those with darker skin don’t produce vitamin D as well, so supplements may be necessary to avoid deficiency.

Calcium is even more important for women
Several studies show that calcium may ease symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS). This study here concluded that women with PMS have lower intakes of calcium and magnesium, and lower serum levels.
The recommended amount depends on your age
How do you know if you’re getting enough calcium? The National Institutes of Health (NIH) say that adults should get 1,000 mg every day, more details here. For women over 50 and during pregnancy and breast-feeding, NIH recommends 1,200 mg daily.

One cup of skim, low-fat, or whole milk contains about 300 mg of calcium.

The University of California San Francisco has a helpful guide here to check to see how much calcium is in many common foods.

Lack of calcium can lead to other health issues
A lack of calcium could lead to other health issues. For adults, too little calcium can increase your risk of developing osteoporosis, or frail and porous bones that easily fracture. Osteoporosis is especially common in older women, which is why the NIH recommends they consume more calcium than their male counterparts.

Calcium is essential for children as they grow and develop. Children who don’t get enough calcium may not grow to their full potential height, or develop other health issues.

Calcium supplements can help you get the right amount
Not everyone gets the calcium they need from diet alone. If you are lactose intolerant, vegan, or just not a fan of dairy products, you may find it difficult to get enough calcium in your diet.

A calcium supplement can help add calcium to your diet. Calcium carbonate and calcium citrate are the two most recommended forms of calcium supplements.

Calcium carbonate is cheaper and more common. It can be found in most antacid medicines. It needs to be taken with food in order for it to work well.

Calcium citrate doesn’t need to be taken with food and may be better absorbed by older people with lower levels of stomach acid.

Take note that calcium supplements do have side effects. You may experience constipation, gas, and bloating. The supplements may also interfere with your body’s ability to absorb other nutrients or medications. ALWAYS Check with your doctor before starting any supplements.

Too much calcium can have negative effects
With any mineral or nutrient, it is important to get the right amount. Too much calcium can have negative side effects. Symptoms such as constipation, gas, and bloating may indicate that you’re getting too much calcium.

Extra calcium may also increase your risk of kidney stones. In rare cases, too much calcium can cause deposits of calcium in your blood. This is called hypercalcemia.

Some doctors think that taking calcium supplements can increase your risk of heart disease, but others disagree. At the moment, more research is needed to understand how calcium supplements affect heart health.

The takeaway
Calcium is essential to your overall health. You can get the calcium you need from many different foods, and if necessary, from supplements. Calcium works together with other nutrients such as vitamin D, so it is important keep up a balanced diet. As with any mineral or nutrient, you should monitor your calcium intake so that you aren’t getting too much or too little.

Words above from article here

Other helpful links

UK’s NHS site ‘About Calcium’ – see here
BBC Good Food site ‘Calcium rich foods’ – see here

I hope you found this an interesting article, do please share your thoughts in the comments section.

However, it is IMPORTANT to note that articles within this blog are provided for general information only, and should not be treated as a substitute for the medical advice of your own doctor or any other health care professional. If you have any concerns about your general health, you should contact your GP or local health care team/provider.

All the best Jan


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