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Calcium – Beyond Milk and Fractures

“Don’t you want strong bones? Stop scrunching up your nose and drink your milk.”

How many of us have grown up with this good morning note?

What is the first thing we are taught in school? “You need calcium to build strong bones and teeth.” Before we forget, our parents and teachers always made sure we got the right amount of this vital nutrient through our daily diet. When it comes to the most significant elements that need to be a part of your daily diet, calcium almost tops the list. 

Well, as it turns out (counter-productive to our fellow milk-haters, sorry! But don’t worry, we have got it covered :), the threat of broken bones (that usually followed when we hid the milk away in the fridge) is actually completely valid.

The National Osteoporosis Foundation of America confirms the ancient adage: Calcium does play an important role in building strong and dense bones early in life. It keeps them tough and healthy, well into the future too. There are various ways to add calcium to your daily diet!

Milk is the most popular source of Calcium, but it can be substituted with yogurt or cottage cheese too, which are both much lighter to digest. For those of you who are lactose intolerant or prefer to follow a vegan diet, meeting your calcium requirements is a tiny bit difficult. But, you can definitely stock up on seeds, nuts and finger millet as well as consider dietary supplements for Calcium.

But why supplements?

Reaping Dividends: Our body ceases Calcium absorption in the mid to late 20s. During our early years we can deposit more bone tissue than we withdraw. This increases the bone strength and density. If we make good calcium deposits until we hit our 30s, bingo! We reap the dividends later too. Accumulating tissue in the bones from a tender age is paramount to preventing bone breakage, fractures and other bone conditions, like osteoporosis.

When we cross 25-28 years of age, our body’s ability to generate calcium deposits is

reduced drastically. To put things in perspective, if we lose 0.5 percent bone tissue deposits every month, we can only gain 0.5 percent every year. At this point, old bones begin to break down faster than the time taken for the formation of a new bone. Thus, our body loses more calcium than it gains.

Although bone mass cannot increase once we reach its peak, we can replace most of

what is lost daily. Alternatively, we cannot increase our bone deposits, but if

we consume the daily requirement, we can keep the bone deposits from depleting.

Welcoming the cheer of a new life: “If nature gives you calcium why do I require supplementation?” Well here is why . supplementation is essential for:

 1) Women 

  • Who experience PMS symptoms such as water retention, food cravings, cramps and head and back aches: Taking a calcium supplement a week before and during the menstruation gives relief from the symptoms.
  • Menopause causes estrogen levels of the body to fall which enhances bone resorption (a complex biological process that can result in shrinkage or loss of bone). Thus supplementation becomes a necessity.
  • Women have to build a bone bank to be able to sail through the demands of pregnancy and breastfeeding. 

Thus, pregnancy and menopause are also the times women must be careful about their calcium intake and supplements.

2) Athletes, in case of cramps and individuals involved in exercise require calcium for smooth muscle contraction

3) People with calcium deficiency,  low bone mineral density, osteoporosis or osteopenia

The conclusion?

Just like exercise, dietary calcium intake is irreplaceable for skeletal health, calcium supplements come handy when there is an increased demand or deficiency. Building your bone mass bank from a young age is critical.We

cannot increase our bone deposits, but we can surely consume the daily requirementand protect it from depleting. To absorb Calcium, you require Vitamin D. You must know your Vitamin D3 level, before you pop in any Calcium supplements. Additionally, it is not just of paramount importance for women, but also for growing kids and teenagers. 

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