Calcium deficiency is usually due to either an inadequate intake of Calcium or a failure of metabolism. When blood Calcium levels drop too low, the vital mineral is “borrowed’ from the bones and It is returned to the bones from Calcium supplied through the diet as long as there is adequate intake of Calcium rich foods or supplementation.
The average person loses 400 to 500mg of Calcium per day. If an individual’s diet is low in Calcium, there may not be sufficient amounts of Calcium available in the blood to be returned to the bones to maintain strong bones and total body health, thus giving rise to risks of osteoporosis and heart disease.
Signs of deficiency can include extreme nerve sensitivity muscle spasms, and leg cramps (called tetany) or symptoms of osteoporosis
This is possibly the most well-known disease associated in people’s minds with issues surrounding Calcium. Each year osteoporosis leads to more that 1.5 million bone fractures, including 300,000 broken hips, 80% of which involve post-menopausal women. Men are also at risk of developing osteoporosis but they tend to do so 5-10 years later than women do. Osteoporosis means that, due to Calcium loss, the bone mass has thinned and weakened and so is no longer able to support the skeleton. Symptoms can include:
- loss of height
- bone brittleness and weakness and/or deformity
To prevent osteoporosis you need good bone density which depends on two things:
- making the densest bones possible during the first 30 years of life
- limiting the amount of bone loss later in life by regular consumption of calcium rich foods and regular exercise
You can ensure both of these happening with regular physical activity. Exercise increases the body’s ability to absorb Calcium. As well as helping to keep you fit by toning muscles and sinews and keeping your heart in good shape, exercise makes your bones work harder which causes them to build up more bone mass. This keeps them stronger and less vulnerable to osteoporosis and other bone deficiency diseases.
Magnesium is very important
Magnesium is essential for proper Calcium absorption as they work together to create new osseous mass. These minerals should be taken in combination but in correct proportions. That is to say, if you ingest 1000 mg of Calcium, you should also ingest 500 mg of Magnesium.
Other factors affecting Calcium absorption
If you are smoking, drinking alcohol regularly or stress out on coffee, cola (more about cola drinks later!) and sweet sugary snacks, you will develop a deficiency of Calcium in you body which will have serious long term impact on your health. If you are taking medications such as diuretics and aluminium antacids these also cause depletion of Calcium levels and will need to take a supplement to replace the Calcium lost.
One of the biggest problems in the modern diet is the consumption of soda type beverages. These drinks contain large amounts of Phosphorus which cause an imbalance of Calcium in the body. The average Australian drinks an estimated 56 gallons of soft drinks each year, and in the past 10 years, soft drink consumption among children has almost doubled. The large amounts Phosphoric acid contained in these drinks interferes with the body’s ability to use Calcium, which can lead to osteoporosis or softening of the teeth and bones. Phosphoric acid also neutralizes the hydrochloric acid in your stomach, which can interfere with digestion, making it difficult to utilise nutrients.
Growing bodies require adequate amounts of Calcium and drinking soda drinks inhibits this. Take them OFF your shopping list. To help you decide, read some of our articles about Coca Cola.