Like most vitamins and minerals, calcium plays an important role in keeping your body healthy. However, health problems often result from taking more than what your doctor recommends.
What is Calcium?
While most famous for helping you maintain strong bones and teeth, calcium is a mineral that helps your body carry out several vital functions. Found in many foods, your body uses calcium to:
- Move muscles
- Help nerves carry messages from your brain
- Assist blood vessels with moving blood
- Facilitate the release of hormones and enzymes
- Make the heart and arteries contract more strongly
How much Calcium should you take?
Your daily intake of calcium varies depending on your age. The recommended daily averages are:
- Young children 1,000 mg
- Pubescent and Prepubescent 1,300 mg
- Adults 19–50 years 1,000 mg
- Menopausal and Postmenopausal women 1,200
- Men 50+ 1,000mg
The best way to ensure your body gets enough calcium is through the food you eat. Foods with the highest amount of calcium include:
- Most dairy products
- Leafy greens like kale and broccoli
Calcium supplements help those who don’t get enough calcium from diet alone, including:
- Those who eat a diet high in protein or sodium diet
- People with Crohn’s disease, inflammatory bowel disease, or another health condition that limits calcium absorption
- Patients treated with corticosteroids over an extended period
- Those diagnosed with osteoporosis
To ensure you get enough, most multivitamin-mineral supplements contain some calcium. There are also dietary supplements that only contain calcium or consist of just calcium and vitamin D. Of those that only contain calcium, there are two types of supplements:
Found in many over-the-counter antacid products, calcium carbonate absorbs best when taken with food.
The body absorbs calcium citrate more easily than calcium carbonate and on both an empty and full stomach.
Regardless of which type of calcium you consume, if taken in supplement form, it’s best to take less than 500 mg at one time.
Eating foods high in calcium and taking supplements isn’t enough. For proper absorption, you also need an adequate amount of vitamin D.
In addition to being added to most dairy products, your body produces vitamin D naturally when you expose your skin to the ultraviolet rays of the sun. However, while staying indoors, using sunscreen, and wearing protective clothing prevents skin cancer, it also limits the body’s ability to make vitamin D.
Along with assisting your body to absorb calcium, vitamin D also helps:
- Regulate bone growth and fortifies your bones
- Strengthens your immune system
- Improves asthma
- Boosts mood and gives you an overall sense of well-being.
Without proper absorption, excess calcium causes more harm than good. If you don’t take enough vitamin D, the excess calcium you consume, whether through food or supplement, settles in your arteries instead of your bones. Calcium found in the arteries helps in the formation of plaques that threaten your heart and brain.
What are the side effects of too much Calcium?
While doctors stress the importance of taking enough calcium for optimum health, because there are so many ways to consume calcium, it’s important to watch your intake levels, so you don’t take too much.
Even without taking too much, some calcium supplements cause some people to experience:
To alleviate any of these side effects, try:
- Spreading out your calcium intake throughout the day
- Taking your supplement with food
- changing the supplement brand or form
Hypercalcemia is the condition of having a high blood calcium level. Overactive parathyroid glands most often cause hypercalcemia. However, taking too many calcium supplements can compound the issue.
Many people don’t have symptoms with mild hypercalcemia. As your blood calcium rate increases, it starts to affect different parts of your body. The more prominent signs of hypercalcemia involve:
Your kidneys keep your blood clean. Too much of anything, including excess blood calcium, forces your kidneys to work harder to filter it out, causing:
- Excessive thirst
- Frequent urination
- Kidney stones
- Kidney failure
Hypercalcemia bothers the stomach inciting:
- Loss of appetite
Bones and muscles
Since much of the excess calcium in your blood comes from your bones, hypercalcemia weakens them, leading to:
- Bone pain
- Muscle weakness
- Muscle cramping
- Muscle aches
Excess blood calcium can interfere with your brain, resulting in:
- Cognitive issues
- Memory problems
- Lethargy and fatigue
In rare instances, severe hypercalcemia interferes with your heart function, causing:
- Cardiac arrhythmia
When brought on by supplements and antacids, hypercalcemia usually reverses quickly when you stop taking them. However, long-term, untreated, hypercalcemia can become serious.
Kratom and Calcium
The use of the supplement Kratom has increased in recent years. These tree leaves get chewed, smoked, steeped in a tea-like drink, or incorporated into recipes. While many believe that Kratom has medical benefits, it is considered to have calcium blocking characteristics.
Used to lower blood pressure, calcium blockers effectively prevent calcium from entering the cells of your heart and arteries. In doing so, these drugs allow your blood vessels to relax and open.
While taking Kratom can help balance your life, consuming too much of any supplement can come with consequences. Check out the Oasis kratom website for more information on Kratom and how it can provide overall wellbeing.