Calcium is a chemical element known as a mineral. The most abundant mineral in the human body, calcium is essential for most life on earth, humans included. Almost everything — our bones, teeth, heart, nerves and blood-clotting systems — rely on an ample amount of calcium. Luckily, you can get a lot of your recommended daily amount of calcium through both diet and supplementation.

The Traditional Benefits of Calcium

The traditional benefits of calcium include: Structural Support, Circulatory Support, and helping to support your fitness.

What is Calcium Used For?

Calcium may have numerous benefits to the body, including the following: Decreases Bone Loss/Osteoporosis Increases Bone Density Reduces Potential Bone Fractures Reduces Risk of Colorectal Cancer Lowers Risk of High Blood Pressure Promotes Weight Loss Improves Accurate Neurotransmitter Responses to Muscle Contractions

Benefits of Calcium

Supplementing with calcium has proven to have its fair share of advantages: Decreases bone loss/osteoporosis, Increases bone density, Potential bone fracture reduction, Reduces risk of colorectal cancer(2), Lowers risk of blood pressure(3), Promotes weight loss(4) (potentially), Improves accurate neurotransmitter responses and muscle contractions. Calcium allows your body to feel optimized in many ways; therefore, it's important to get plenty of calcium into your body through both diet and supplementation.

Forms of Calcium

There are many kinds of calcium, most of them available in supplement form: Calcium Carbonate: Also known as an OTC (over-the-counter) antacid, calcium carbonate gives you the most calcium per dose. This type is inexpensive and should give you all of the benefits associated with calcium (which is covered below). Calcium Citrate: A more potent version of calcium carbonate that can be absorbed easier on an empty stomach or for people with low stomach acid. Calcium citrate is helpful for people 50 years and older who suffer from stomach complications. It's more absorbable, but typically also more expensive. Calcium Gluconate: Usually administered through injection, calcium gluconate is injected into the vein to treat low blood calcium, high blood potassium and magnesium toxicity. Gluconate has less overall calcium concentration than both carbonate and citrate. Calcium Lactate: This form includes lactate anions combined with one calcium cation. Technically a salt, it does exactly what calcium gluconate does: treat low blood calcium. Again, calcium lactate has less calcium concentration than the either calcium citrate or carbonate. Calcium Phosphate: This version contains phosphate anions. Also a salt, calcium phosphate is the main mineral found in human bones and teeth, as well as considered a "highly biocompatible inorganic biomaterial(1)." Calcium phosphate also has a lower amount of calcium per dose than either calcium carbonate or citrate. As a supplement, calcium is best absorbed in a specific environment. For one, taking calcium orally after you've eaten maximizes your stomach acid, which helps with absorption. For two, taking smaller doses assists with this as well. This means 600mg or less when dosing. Ideally, taking calcium during your first meal (whenever that is) in smaller doses allows for the best possible experience with calcium supplementation.

Recommended Daily Allowance of Calcium

Everybody has different needs when it comes to calcium, based on genetics, upbringing, diet and absorption. However, the common daily recommended allowance of calcium, according to the Food and Nutrition Board, is between 1,000mg and 1,300mg for both males and females. During formative years (age 9-18) and older years (age 71+), you should be at the higher end of this range. If you're a female who's pregnant or lactating, you actually don't need to ramp up consumption. However, again this is the general recommended allowance. The only way to know for sure how much calcium your body needs is to get your blood tested by a medical professional. That way you know what you need in terms of accurate supplementation.

Symptoms of Calcium Deficiency

Calcium deficiency (hypocalcemia) occurs when your body isn't receiving enough calcium. Specifically, the blood has too little calcium and is affected adversely as a result. Common symptoms of calcium deficiency include: Muscle Spasms, Confusion or Memory Loss, Numbing or tingling in the hands, feet or face, Depression, Brittle Nails, Hallucinations, Muscle Cramps, Easy fracturing of the bones, Early stages of calcium deficiency rarely have any symptoms; usually, these start to occur once the deficiency has been prevalent for some time. You can also get slower hair growth and fragile, thin skin. This is a serious disease that shouldn't be taken lightly.

Citations and Sources

1. Ahuja G, Pathak K. Porous Carriers for Controlled/Modulated Drug Delivery. Indian J Pharm Sci. 2009;71(6):599-607. [PMC] 2. Han C, Shin A, Lee J, et al. Dietary calcium intake and the risk of colorectal cancer: a case control study. BMC Cancer. 2015;15:966. [PubMed] 3. Chen Y, Strasser S, Cao Y, Wang K, Zheng S. Calcium intake and hypertension among obese adults in United States: associations and implications explored. J Hum Hypertens. 2015;29(9):541-547. [PubMed] 4. Tremblay A, Gilbert J. Human obesity: is insufficient calcium/dairy intake part of the problem? J Am Coll Nutr. 2011;30(5 Suppl 1):449S-53S. [PubMed] 5. Lehto-Axtelius D, Surve V, Johnell O, Håkanson R. Effects of calcium deficiency and calcium supplementation on gastrectomy-induced osteopenia in the young male rat. Scand J Gastroenterol. 2002;37(3):299-306. [PubMed]

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