We all know that calcium is good for us. As kids being told to drink our milk and adults encouraged to eat more leafy greens, we’re aware that calcium is a vital part of our nutrition. But do you know why calcium is so important? And how much calcium should you take for a healthy life?
What Is Calcium?
Calcium is an element, meaning it is one of the basic building blocks. It is a chemical or substance, which cannot be broken down further by a chemical reaction. Calcium is also classed as a mineral, and it’s one of the minerals most vital to our existence. In fact, there is more calcium in our bodies than any other mineral.
Humans don’t naturally manufacture calcium, so it needs to come from the diet. In babies, this is from their breastmilk or formula. As children grow up, calcium tends to come from dairy or other sources. Calcium is used by the body more during periods of growth, as it is required for the building of strong bones. Calcium is also essential for healthy teeth and regulating many of the body’s systems.
Did you know that approximately 2% of your total body weight is calcium!
What Is Calcium Good For?
Calcium is required for a range of functions within the human body in addition to building a strong skeleton and teeth. Calcium is carried in the blood to help regulate nerve impulses, hormones, blood coagulation (clotting), and muscle contractions.
Here is a list of just a few calcium benefits:
- Stronger teeth
- Healthier skin
- Reduced risk of bone fractures
- Helps regulate a healthy weight (does not replace exercise/healthy diet)
- Protects a healthy heart
- May reduce premenstrual tension
The following are a few easily recognizable symptoms of calcium deficiency. Please note that there are often no outward signs of osteoporosis, and sadly, the first indicator is often when someone suffers a fracture after a fall or collision. That’s why it’s so important to keep calcium levels where they need to be.
Calcium deficiency symptoms include:
- Dry and itchy skin
- Brittle nails Loose teeth
- Muscle cramps
- Menstrual cramps
- Irregular menstrual cycles
All older adults will eventually have osteopenia. This is when the bones become slightly more fragile and have less bone mineral density than usual. This is a normal part of aging. The bones slowly weaken, but they can still withstand normal things.
When the condition worsens to osteoporosis, it means the bones have become so fragile that they can break at any time. The good news is, you can do something to treat and even prevent osteoporosis from happening to you.
Drugs That May Cause Osteoporosis
Nature isn’t the only culprit. Some medications may also increase your risk of developing osteoporosis. Medications like steroids and cortisone are known to deplete bone mass. So are some cancer treatments, heartburn relievers, and some epilepsy medications.
In some cases, the benefit outweighs the cost. Discontinuing a medication may not be an option for you. But adding a supplement to prevent osteoporosis is an excellent alternative you should discuss with your physician.
Natural Osteoporosis Treatments
There are many ways you can prevent or reverse osteoporosis naturally. Here are a few ideas:
Calcium supplements are not medications. They are high doses of a vitamin that you need. As you age, your body produces far less vitamin D. This vitamin is what allows your body to absorb calcium. Because old age may mean a vitamin D deficiency, it also means less calcium is being absorbed.
To counter this problem, most calcium supplements also contain vitamin D to help your body take in as much calcium as it needs – an amount it may not be able to absorb through a calcium-rich diet alone. Supplements for bone healing and bone health can help you prevent osteoporosis.
A plant-based calcium, this form of calcium is taken from – you guessed it – algae! The benefit of algae calcium is that it is much easier for your body to absorb. Since the algae pre-digests the calcium, the body does not have to work to break it down first and then extract it.
Calcium usually comes from rock, which is very difficult for the body to process. As you age, your calcium absorption rapidly declines. Algae calcium can help restore calcium in your bones quickly.
Is Osteoporosis Reversible?
Yes, osteoporosis can be reversed. Even if you suffer from osteopenia, you will not necessarily suffer from osteoporosis – as long as you make changes to treat it! Takin in more calcium and modifying your lifestyle habits can make a huge difference and even reverse osteoporosis altogether.
Other Natural Osteoporosis Treatment and Prevention Options
Adding a stable exercise routine into your life is essential for so many reasons. It can benefit your health in many ways, including reducing your risk of developing osteoporosis.
Smoking can cause a chronic lung condition known as COPD – Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. This disease puts you at greater risk for osteoporosis – among other health complications. For your sake, nip that habit in the bud as soon as possible.
Intaking more natural calcium will help add density and strength to your bones. Turn to foods or supplements that are high in calcium to help prevent osteoporosis or reverse it.
Can You Be Too Young for Osteoporosis?
While many patients receive a diagnosis in their golden years, younger people are not exempt from developing osteoporosis. The list of risk factors is a long one, putting the majority of the population at risk. You may feel fine, but osteoporosis can sneak up on you in no time.
Especially if you are taking a medication that increases your risk for developing osteoporosis or have had certain illnesses in the past – like breast cancer – you may notice symptoms much earlier than you think.
If you suspect you may be at risk for developing osteoporosis, visit your physician and ask for a bone density test. Blood tests to verify your body’s vitamin D, calcium, and omega 3 levels may also be beneficial.
If you are unable to stop taking medications that increase your risk of osteoporosis, don’t fret. You don’t have to suffer. Start taking supplements that will help prevent bone loss, even if you think you are still too young to worry about osteoporosis.
Always check with your physician before adding any new supplements, vitamins, or medications into your routine. If you feel you suffer any of the osteoporosis symptoms mentioned above or at a greater risk than the general public, do not hesitate to reach out to your physician.
Early intervention and prevention are ideal. However, if you are already past that point, you can still reverse osteoporosis. Check with your doctor today.