It's not the muscles that lift weight; it's the skeleton. The skeleton is made up of 206 bones, and these bones are 80% calcium. The level of calcium in the body increases until the age of 30; after that, you need to take care of your bones. For better muscle mass and bone strengthening, an active lifestyle includes strength training, weight training, avoiding accidents, and supplying enough calcium and vitamin D to the body. Why vitamin D? Because your body can’t absorb calcium without vitamin D,. If bones have less calcium, they are weak, and physical training may lead to fractures and also muscle mass loss.
How much calcium do you require?
The calcium need depends on the biological status, i.e., gender and age group. As per the RDA, the calcium requirement age-wise is given below;
1 to 3 years: 700 mg/day
4 to 8 years: 1,000 mg/day
9 to 18 years: 1,300 mg/day
19 to 50 years: 1,000 mg/day
51 to 70 years: 1,200 mg/day for women, 1,000 mg/day for men
71 and older: 1,200 mg/day
Age aside, if you are into any sports or physical training that requires you to do a lot of movements, you need more calcium than regular daily needs.
Health risks of not getting enough calcium?
A calcium deficiency can lead to muscle cramps and bone weakening. Every time you move a muscle, you are using up some of the calcium in your body that is from bones. When you deplete bone calcium, it can result in osteoporosis. Specially, if you are a woman. Plus, you could be more susceptible to stress fractures and other injuries, during a physical activity at a gym or outdoor workouts.
Your muscles are lined with calcium ions which help enable your muscles to flex, contract and extend. Additionally, remember that your heart is a muscle, so it’s essential that your body has enough calcium to enable the heart function in a healthy manner.
What Kind of Calcium supplement
Calcium carbonate is a commonly available calcium supplement on the market, as it is a good source of calcium and inexpensive. However, some people may face stomach problems like acidity. There is a risk of kidney stones with calcium carbonate, and it can only be taken after a meal. If you don’t want these restrictions and risk, it's better to go for a calcium citrate supplement that's easy on the stomach and causes no acid or stones as it dissolves faster.
Why are there calcium supplements with other minerals and vitamins like magnesium, zinc, and vitamin D? They are not essential but have added benefits. Vitamin D, along with calcium, is needed because for calcium absorption, vitamin D is essential. For better bone density you need vitamin D.
Calcium supplement and diet
Your body doesn’t produce calcium; hence, you can provide calcium to your bones through food and supplements. Different sources of calcium are;
Soft-bone fish like salmon and sardines
Fortifies food and beverages
Remember, a glass of milk is not sufficient to get the calcium you need per day. Even if you have a balanced diet, there is a chance of meeting your daily calcium needs. At the same time, if you are vegan or lactose intolerant, it becomes a concern. In these cases, a calcium supplement (with vitamin D3) can help fill up the gaps.
How much Calcium?
No doubt you need to supply sufficient calcium to your body for better bone health, muscle mass, and other bodily functions, but the amount should be as per your age and gender requirements, as too much calcium can be harmful.
You can calculate the calcium intake from the calcium-rich diet plus the supplement dosage. Also, you need to note that, given the quality of calcium-rich food, it is not necessary that your platter have enough calcium for the day.
Along with providing calcium and vitamin D to your body, it is also necessary to preserve bone strength and keep muscles fit. For that, your body regularly needs to be stretched and flexed. That is the reason every time some kind of exercise is advised for all age groups and everyone. Running, walking, jogging, cycling, swimming, weight training, and even dancing are some of the great ways to stay active and fit.