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Calcium: A Nutrient for Life


Calcium, benefits of calcium and vitamin D3, nutrition, vitamins and minerals,  need of calcium for life
Human Skeleton (Credit: Google Image)

Nutrients are substances that are needed for the nourishment of our bodies. Nutrition is the process of taking in food and transforming it into energy. The different nutrients a human body requires are fibres, carbohydrates, minerals, vitamins, fats, water, and proteins. Calcium is a nutrient that all living organisms need, including humans.

The moment we hear "calcium," the first thing that comes to mind is "bone. Yes, 99% of the body's calcium is in the bones and teeth; the rest is found in the blood and tissues. Most people don’t know that even muscle nourishment needs calcium. However, there is a limit to everything, as with calcium in the body. Every body, as per its age, should have a certain quantity of calcium. If the limit varies greatly, like too little or too much, then it's a matter of concern. You cannot miss vitamin D in all this. Just as calcium is crucial, the sunshine vitamin is crucial too. Because the body can't absorb calcium without the help of vitamin D.

Here is the chart showing the daily requirements of calcium for kids and seniors:

Group

​Need for Calcium

Requirements (per day)

Kids

​Bones & teeth growth stage and hence need for calcium is high.

0-1 year - 500 mg

1-9 years – 400 mg

Teenagers

​Puberty promotes a quick and rapid growth so the need for calcium increases.

​10 – 18 years - 600mg

​Puberty to middle age

For maintenance of bones and teeth

19-49 years – 400 mg

​Adult Men

With age the bones lose calcium.

Above 50 years – 400 mg

​Adult Women

Elderly women post menopause are at utmost risk of Osteoporosis due to calcium loss as a result of hormonal changes.

51 – 70 years - 400 mg

Pregnant Women

​The growing fetus has high requirement of calcium which is supplemented through mother’s diet.

1000 mg

​Lactating Mother

High need of requirement for both baby and mother

1000 mg

(Source: Tarla Dalal)

The chart shows us the amount of calcium needed by every age group and gender at different stages of life. In an average daily diet, we don’t accomplish this requirement and end up with calcium deficiency health issues. Hence, experts, dietitians, and medical practitioners advise taking supplements daily along with a diet. Only then can the gap be filled.


Calcium Deficiency


Lack of calcium can cause severe health hazards. Calcium deficiency includes chronic diarrhoea, dental changes, cataracts, hypocalcemia, achlorhydria, brain disorders, osteopenia, osteoporosis, vitamin D deficiency, hypothyroidism, hair fall, menopause, pancreatitis, and so on.

For vegans, lactose intolerants, or those who consume large amounts of protein or sodium (as your body excretes more calcium), there is a high chance of low calcium in the body and a requirement for supplements. New mothers need calcium as pregnancy and lactation demand various vitamins and minerals along with enough calcium.

In such conditions, calcium supplements come to the rescue and fulfil the basic needs.


Sources of Calcium?


Calcium is received either through food or supplements. Here we will discuss the kinds of foods that can give you calcium and how supplements do help.


Food


You get calcium by eating a variety of foods, including the following:

  • Milk, yoghurt, and cheese (diary products) are good food sources of calcium. Soy milk is rich in protein and naturally, it doesn't contain calcium.

  • Bonefish like sardines and salmon, freshwater fish like rohu, singhi.

  • Certain vegetables and fruits, such as okra, beetroot, kiwi, orange, spinach, kale, broccoli, and Chinese cabbage, contain calcium. Mainly dark-green, leafy vegetables are rich sources of calcium.

  • Calcium is added to some beverages, including many fruit juices and milk substitutes such as soy and almond beverages and tofu.

  • Grains can provide high energy but are a relatively poor source of calcium. However, some dals, like masoor and channa have a certain quantity of calcium.

  • Figs are anti-oxidants and also contain a good amount of calcium.


Supplements


As calcium deficiency causes numerous health issues and the quality of present foods is not up to par, supplements are advised to be taken with or without a prescription. A person with no severe health condition or who is not under any specific medication can go for calcium with vitamin D3 supplements available over-the-counter. In critical scenarios, it is advisable to consult a physician first. Calcium supplements come in different forms, depending on their producers and needs. However, calcium citrate is best for better absorption. Better absorbed calcium is always recommended to avoid certain side effects.


Why calcium and vitamin D3 combined?


A major role of vitamin D is to help the body absorb calcium and maintain bone density. In fact, without vitamin D, calcium can't be absorbed by the body. Hence, calcium supplements combined with vitamin D meet multiple requirements by making them a complete nutrient. In a recent study of 2020, it was seen that nearly 76 percent of Indians suffer from vitamin D deficiency and insufficiency, according to a study published in May 2020. Most common among adults aged 18–30 years.


Studies say the combination of calcium and vitamin D3 works well for the male hormone testosterone too. Though there are herbal products for enhancing vigour and vitality in men, nutrients also help promote them. Vitamin D deficiency and low testosterone concentrations in men can affect their fertility. It may lead to osteoporosis and loss of muscle mass too.


How to choose the right supplement


It is seen that some people may not tolerate certain calcium supplements due to side effects such as gastritis, constipation, and bloating. Therefore, it's important to know what type of supplements suit your body. Calcium phosphate does not cause gas or constipation; however, it is quite expensive compared to calcium carbonate. Calcium carbonate is widely available on prescription and over-the-counter, but it has its own disadvantages. Calcium carbonate supplements can be taken only after food, and they take time to get absorbed. Therefore, there are chances of stone formation. Where as Calcium citrate gets absorbed faster without much effort as it does not require stomach acid for absorption. Women should meet their calcium needs through both their diet and supplements, as they need calcium throughout their life cycle for different purposes.

Calcium citrate benefits:

  • Doesn’t require stomach acid to help in its absorption.

  • Less risk of kidney stones

  • Less constipation complications

  • Can be taken with or without a meal anytime during the day.

Calcium supplements come in various forms, such as chewables, capsules, liquids, powders, and effervescent tablets. Our calcium citrate with vitamin D supplement, Tuskca Calcium with D3, is a sugar-free chewable tablet. It is sugar-free, gluten-free, and has no preservatives. The chewable form facilitates the release of the active ingredients. Calcium is a nutrient for bones and muscles, improving overall health.




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