Do You Need Calcium Supplements? (Part II)

By First Posted: Jan 21, 2009 Wed 7:22 PM Updated: Jan 21, 2009 Wed 7:23 PM

A balanced diet is important for everyone, no matter what the sex or age may be. But proper intake of Calcium is especially important for women as they are relatively more prone to Osteoporosis. In our first article in the series, we discussed topics like daily requirement of Calcium and sources of dietary Calcium. Taking the discussion further, here’s more about Calcium intake, absorption and loss.

What Is Calcium Absorption?

If you stuff yourself with milk and bananas, you still may end up as Calcium deficient. The reason is that your body may not be absorbing all that you intake. Vitamin D plays an important role in the body’s ability to absorb Calcium.

What Affects Calcium Absorption

There are a couple of factors that affect your body’s ability to absorb the Calcium it gets in the diet. These are:

Vitamin D: As stated above, Vitamin D plays a vital role in Calcium absorption by the body. Unfortunately, Vitamin D is naturally available to us in very few food items. Fish liver oil, flesh of certain fishes, beef liver, cheese and egg yolks are a few of the known sources for Vitamin D. The good news is that your body can manufacture Vitamin D if you expose yourself to sunlight occasionally.

Age: Infants and young children absorb Calcium best. As you grow older, your body’s ability to absorb Calcium decreases. This is one of the reasons why the recommended Calcium intake for women over 50 is slightly higher.

Pregnancy: Pregnant women are known to absorb Calcium better than their non-pregnant counterparts. So the recommended intake of Calcium for pregnant women is not very different. The reason is that intestinal absorption of Calcium increases during pregnancy.

Can We Lose Calcium?

Sure you can! In fact, Calcium loss is a reality for everyone. Urination, defecating and sweating are a few ways in which our body loses or excretes Calcium. Here are a few factors that affect loss of Calcium from the body:

Caffeine: Excess intake of Caffeine can induce loss of Calcium from the body. It also reduces the body’s ability to absorb Calcium. But if you take a diet rich in Calcium, this effect of Caffeine can easily be offset.

Excess Salt: Excess intake of Sodium in the form of salt can increase sweating, thereby increasing excretion of Calcium.

Potassium Intake: Increasing the intake of Potassium in form of fruit and vegetables helps in reducing loss of Calcium. This works well even for post-menopausal women.

Loss of Calcium and bone density is a reality for post-menopausal women. So it is very important to start taking care of your body’s Calcium needs right now. In our next article in the series, we will address issues related to Calcium supplements. Till then, Be Healthy, Be Strong!!!

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