Most Americans who have spent part of their youth watching television knows the benefits of calcium in producing strong, healthy bones and teeth.
Calcium supplements can be beneficial for both men and women.
Calcium is a mineral that helps maintain strong bones, supporting their structure and hardness.
It also helps muscle movement and the transmission of messages between the brain and body parts, and assists blood vessels in releasing hormones and enzymes throughout the body.
For years, women have been the subject of information campaigns and government sponsored health initiatives to warn them of the risk of low calcium levels in their diets.
Calcium is known as an important element in the diet of women, especially as they age.
Calcium wards off osteoporosis, reducing high blood pressure, and even reducing the effects of PMS.
As a result, women are encouraged to augment their diets with a calcium supplement.
There are a large number of products on the market from a wide variety of manufacturers to help them do so.
Men also need calcium supplements, according to a number of authorities.
Some of the same health issues that trouble women are also of concern with a number of men.
Osteoporosis is a disease common in older women which reduces bone density and leads to frequent fractures. It is also known to develop in men.
Dr. Donald Hensrud, of the Mayo Clinic said in an interview on ABC News that as men age they should supplement their diet with calcium to improve bone health.
Dr. Hensrud recommends that in addition to vitamin D, calcium in a variety of forms for men such as calcium carbonate and calcium gluconate should be taken.
Dr. Hensrud recommends doses of up to 1,000 mg day up to age 50, and 1,200 milligrams a day for men over 50. His colleague at the Mayo Clinic, Todd B. Nippoldt, M.D. agrees.
There is an upper limit to the amount of calcium one should have, as well. For the average male it’s set at 2,000 milligrams per day.
As men get older, it is even more important that they get enough calcium in their diet or through other sources. The mineral may help reduce your chances of developing high cholesterol and high blood pressure, therefore lessening the chance of a stroke or heart attack.
How do I know if I need calcium supplements?
Unfortunately, it’s difficult to know if you’re not getting enough calcium, because there are few obvious symptoms. The reason for this is simple- if the body detects a lack of calcium, it makes up for that lack by taking calcium from the bone mass.
Therefore it may take years for calcium deficiency to be known, and over the long term, osteoporosis can occur, as well as bone fractures. There are some symptoms of serious calcium inefficiency, such as numbness and tingling in the fingers, convulsions, and abnormal heart rhythms.
These problems most often occur in people who have serious health problems and are undergoing medical care for other issues as well, so the symptoms are often hidden beneath other health issues.
What types of calcium supplements are available?
The National Institutes of Health says that two main types of calcium supplements exist, calcium carbonate and calcium citrate. Other types do exist, such as calcium gluconate and calcium lactate.
Calcium carbonate is the most commonly known form, as it’s easily absorbed by the body via its stomach acid and thus taken with food. The popular over the counter products as chewable Tums® and Rolaids® tablets are perhaps the best known examples of calcium carbonate, and are an inexpensive way to supplement low calcium intake.
Calcium citrate, more easily absorbed by the body on a full or an empty stomach, is readily available in pill form, and is a more expensive alternative. Some of the more popular brand names are Citrical® and Caltrate®, but a large number of products are available, and it’s best to check the details with your pharmacist or doctor before making a choice.
There are known side effects of calcium supplements to be aware of, and they include gas, bloating, and constipation.
Other types of calcium supplements include products that are derived from oyster shells, dolomite, and bone meal. These supplements are best avoided as they can contain lead, a highly toxic metal that can raise blood pressure, harm the brain and kidneys, or cause anemia, and other health problems.
The National Institutes of Health recommends on its website that a balanced diet, of course, is the best source of calcium. They state that milk, yogurt, and cheese are rich natural sources of the mineral, especially in the United States.