Picture this, you’re on your jogging path, sweating and panting as you ran that last lap faster than your normal ones. You notice the tingling in your hands and feet, which is now a familiar feeling since it has been happening for weeks now. But this time, it comes with muscle aches which you only normally get after working out in the gym. Now, you’re wondering what could it be so you try replaying activities in your head that could have triggered that feeling. But the worst part is, you somehow can’t remember.
Did that picture worry you? It should! If you experience the tingling, muscle aches and memory loss at any setting, even when just sitting pretty at home, I’m sorry to tell you that your body is lacking calcium, my friend.
What is Calcium?
Calcium is the most abundant mineral in our body. It makes up much of our bones and teeth structure and also keeps our tissues flexible, strong, and rigid allowing for normal bodily movement. More than that, it is also present in our circulatory system, extracellular fluid and various tissues as a small ionized pool that aids in the mediation of blood vessel contraction and dilation, blood clotting, muscle function, hormonal secretion and nerve transmission.
Calcium is naturally found in some foods and medicines. It is also available as a dietary supplement which the best calcium supplements contain.
Before anything else, here are two most important facts that we need to know about calcium.
Our body needs Vitamin D in order to absorb calcium. Without it, we will not benefit fully from a diet rich in calcium or even the calcium supplements. To know more about Vitamin D, you can read all about it here.
Women need calcium more than men. The World Health Organization (WHO) have recommended calcium supplementation before pregnancy to prevent a condition called pre-eclampsia and its complications. It happens during pregnancy, characterized by signs of organ damage (particularly liver and kidneys) and high blood pressure.
Furthermore, lack of calcium can lead to health issues. Too little calcium can increase the risk of developing Osteoporosis for older women – a condition in which the bones become frail and easily fractures. For the general population, not getting enough calcium in our system can lead to calcium deficiency, medically termed as Hypocalcemia. It is a condition characterized by excessively low levels of calcium in our blood. It can be hard to pinpoint we have the condition but symptoms include muscle cramps and spasms, numbness and tingling, fatigue, abnormal heart rhythms, seizures, confusion and memory loss, tooth decay and gum disease, and dry skin. If you are already experiencing any of these symptoms, you need to start considering taking the best calcium supplements.
Sources of Calcium
The bioavailability of calcium – how it as absorbed by our body – depends on the variety of the dietary
source. For dairy products and fortified foods, calcium absorption is at about 30%. We have to take note that certain compounds in plants such as spinach, sweet potatoes, collard greens, beans, and rhubarb can decrease calcium absorption to only 5%. The absorption rate of dietary calcium and supplements can also be reduced to a small extent by drinking coffee and to a greater extent by not consuming enough Vitamin D.
We can get calcium from either food sources and supplementation. If you’re just starting your supplementation journey, you may want to first get to know the basics here.
Here’s a list of foods rich in calcium with their respective daily value (DV) per serving:
Other than food sources, calcium is also available in many dietary supplements. The most common
forms of calcium present in supplements are calcium carbonate and calcium nitrate – probably the best calcium supplements in the market. For people with low stomach acid levels, the solubility rate of calcium carbonate in slower which in turn will reduce the absorption of calcium. To remedy this, ensure to take calcium carbonate supplement together with a meal. Calcium nitrate, on the other hand, is less depended on stomach acid so it can be taken without food. If unsure about our stomach acid levels, it is still best to take these supplements with meals. Other calcium supplements include calcium ascorbate, sulfate, gluconate, phosphate, lactate, and microcrystalline hydroxyapatite.
As for the best calcium supplement for you, you get to decide. You can check out Nature Made’s Calcium Carbonate which already includes Vitamin D to ensure better absorption. If you’re just after the calcium content, maybe you can start with NOW’s Calcium supplement just get a head start.
The Office of Dietary Supplements provided the recommended daily allowances (RDA) of Calcium per day that will help us be guided in planning our diet and supplement intake.
Benefits of Calcium
Calcium plays an essential role in many of our body’s basic function. Calcium is needed for blood circulation, muscle movement, and hormone release. It also helps the brain transmit messages to other parts of the body. More than that, calcium is a major part of our bone and tooth health. It makes our bones strong and dense.
More than the basics, calcium is also proven to provide the following health benefits.
Calcium lowers high blood pressure. Several studies have shown that calcium intake from both food sources and best calcium supplements have a possible link to lowering high blood pressure. Although larger trials are still needed to clarify this, studies involving small numbers of participants have already arrived to this recommendation.
Calcium promotes bone health. Almost 99% of the calcium present in our body is our bones and teeth. It is essential to bone growth, development, and maintenance. When a person reaches peak growth and stops from developing, calcium continues to maintain the bones and slows down bone density loss.
Calcium aids in cardiovascular health. Calcium maintains the heart muscle function. It also relaxes the smooth muscle around our blood vessels.
These benefits should already be enough for you to get your hands on that best calcium supplement.
Effects on Bodybuilding
Calcium is just one of the many vitamins and nutrients our body needs to full reap the benefits of working out. In fact, calcium has an essential role in the relaxation and contraction of our muscles. When lifting weights, it does not only stimulate the mechanisms that cause the increase in muscle size, it also increases our bone mineral density. While working out, our bones are primarily responsible for propping up our muscles, increasing the capacity of our ligaments and tendons. Hence, it is probably high time to invest on a best calcium supplement.
The first thing we probably need to do is to talk to our doctor and ask if a calcium blood test is needed to measure the calcium content in our body, especially if we are experiencing any symptoms of calcium deficiency.
But if we feel we’re healthy and always on the move, we can start incorporating foods rich in calcium into our diet or finally get that best calcium supplement if we’re picky.