Calcium is vital for your body to stay healthy and strong. This mineral is essentially beneficial for your teeth and bones. But that is not all. Calcium helps control nerve and muscle functions and even regulates the alkaline/acid balance in your blood. You need to understand and realize that your body contains more calcium than any other mineral. Approximately, 99% of calcium is actually stored in your teeth and bones. As for the remaining 1%, it is stored in the muscles and body fluids.
The amount of calcium your body requires varies depending on your gender and age. However, if you have less than required calcium levels, then you will suffer from weak bones, which can also lead to osteoporosis. Symptoms of calcium deficiency include depression, memory loss, muscle spasms, tingling sensations and numbness in parts of your body like the feet and hands.
If you are suffering from calcium deficiency, it would be wise to consult a doctor. Apart from making changes to your lifestyle and diet, here are 5 tips you will need to consider without fail to treat calcium deficiency before it takes a toll on you and your body in the long run.
Consume Foods Rich in Calcium
If you want to increase calcium levels in your body, you will need to start by consuming foods rich in calcium. There are many foods that are loaded with calcium. For example:
- Non-fat Milk
- Dairy products
- Fortified orange juice
- Blackstrap molasses
- Soy products
- Dark leafy vegetables like turnips and spinach
If able, indulge in calcium-fortified foods as they are easily absorbed by your body. Well-known calcium-fortified foods like rice, soy milk, breakfast bars and breakfast cereals should do the trick. To put things into perspective, a cup of calcium-fortified soy milk or orange juice can provide a staggering 300 mg of calcium.
Consume Foods Rich in Vitamin D
Apart from getting Vitamin D from your exposure to the sun, you should also look into foods that come with vitamin D as well.
If you are wondering what foods come with vitamin D, you are in luck, as you will definitely find something of interest to you. A few extraordinary foods rich in vitamin D are as follows:
- Fatty fish
- Fortified cereal
If possible, you can also consume vitamin D supplements, but only after you are given the go-ahead by your doctor. Remember, self-medication becomes harmful if you do not know what you are getting yourself. Too much or too little will eventually do more harm than good.
Since it is better to be safe than sorry, make it a point to consult your doctor to determine whether vitamin D supplements will suit you or not.
Consume Foods Rich in Magnesium
A lot of people do not know that magnesium is necessary for calcium absorption. Believe it or not, these nutrients are closely related, as can be seen by how intestinal absorption and the renal excretion of the ions are dependent on one another.
If you do not have enough magnesium, your body will suffer from a calcium deficiency. If your body is not good at storing magnesium, you will have to chow down on foods rich in magnesium without fail.
When it comes to changing your diet to include foods rich in magnesium, you will need to eat more sesame seeds, squash, broccoli, spinach, almonds, sea vegetables, green beans, cucumbers, and avocados.
Take a Walk in the Morning Sun
As already mentioned earlier, exposure to the sun increases vitamin D levels, thus giving your body the ability to absorb and regulate calcium in the bloodstream. To be more specific, you need anywhere in between 200-400 IUs of vitamin D on a daily basis.
When exposed to the sun, your body synthesizes vitamin D. For the best possible results, take a walk in the morning sun for at least 15 to 20 minutes daily. Avoid going out in the sun between 10 AM to 4 PM and always use skin protection to prevent skin damage.
If you are smoking regularly, STOP!
You may already be aware of the fact that smoking is bad for your health. But it turns out if you are smoking a lot, your calcium levels will be negatively affected as well, as founded by the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Basically, what happens is that smoking severely affects your calcium metabolism and vitamin D, resulting in a significant drop in bone mineral density.
Smoking is a habit that may not be all that easy to get rid of, but if you are determined and have support from your friends or family, you can get rid of it for good.
How to test for Calcium Deficiency
Even though the aforementioned tips should help you get your calcium levels back on track, you should consult a doctor just in case. Why might you ask? Well, it is because too much calcium is not good for you either.
If you have too much calcium in your system, you are actually suffering from hypercalcemia. Due to certain health problems or supplements, you can have excessive calcium in your body. Symptoms of excessive calcium include confusion, nausea, fatigue, and vomiting. If left unchecked, the increase of calcium in your system can cause severe problems like arrhythmia, dementia, weakened bones and coma. Keeping this in mind, you should not take a risk and assume you lack calcium, as any problem you may be having could be resulting from something else altogether.
That being said, in case you have a health problem like parathyroid, your doctor may suggest a blood test, since it can determine whether you have low calcium levels.
When it comes to testing for calcium deficiency, there are two tests – one test helps identify total calcium, while the other measures ionized calcium. The first test is used by everyone, and if indeed you have low calcium levels, your doctor may ask you to take supplements.
Calcium Deficiency – Are You at Risk?
To cut to the chase, four types of people are at risk:
- People who are lactose intolerant – Since lactose intolerant people stay away from dairy products, they miss out one of the best sources of calcium. By avoiding foods dairy foods, you are not getting enough of the mineral in your system. In this case, you should consume non-dairy calcium products instead.
- Vegans – Just like those that are lactose intolerant, vegans miss out on calcium from some of the best sources of food i.e. dairy.
- Women with amenorrhea – Amenorrhea is a condition where a woman stops menstruating. This could be because of lower body weight, stress or hormonal imbalance. Women who don’t get their periods have lesser estrogen levels, which in turn affects their calcium balance.
- Postmenopausal women – Due to menopause, women have less estrogen in their system. This decreases calcium absorption while increasing the chances of fractures and joint injuries. While reaching menopause, talk to your doctor about precautionary measures that can be taken to avoid this from happening. Remember, it’s never too late to add calcium-rich foods and supplements to your diet.
Treating Calcium Deficiency for People that are Lactose Intolerant
Even if you are lactose intolerant, you are not out for the count. There are still ways you can go about treating calcium deficiency, and you won’t have to go out of your way to do so.
Without further ado, here are some tips to consider if you are lactose intolerant.
- Avoid Soft Drinks
If you are consuming a lot of soft drinks, you need to stop immediately. Soda increases phosphate levels in the blood, which leeches calcium from your bones while preventing them from absorbing new calcium at the same time.
- Get a Calcium Supplement
You can get a calcium supplement, but that does not mean you have 5 tablets since a single tablet has 200 mg of calcium. This is exactly why you need to consult your doctor to know what you are getting yourself into.
All in all, you know a lot more about calcium deficiency and how it can be treated than before. Make use of this information even if you are not suffering from calcium deficiency.
Remember, you can get all the calcium you could need by having a balanced diet, but that still does not guarantee you won’t suffer from a deficiency. Remember, calcium is not made in the body. It has to be absorbed from the foods we eat. Surprisingly, adding calcium-rich foods won’t make a difference if your body lacks vitamin D!
You will have to make several lifestyle changes to ensure you have enough calcium in your system to remain healthy and fit as a fiddle. Again, if you are not sure about something, do not check for solutions online. Your best course of action is to make the most of the telehealth platform benefits and contact your doctor as soon as possible. Note that it’s not only women who are at risk of weak bones and calcium deficiency. Men must keep track of calcium intake as well.
James Crook is a passionate health and fitness blogger. Currently, he is a working as a blogger for Dr. Joe Wilson, Orthopedic Shoulder Surgeon Raleigh.
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