When my mother was 87 she broke her first hip, because she fell off her bike. Three years later she fell out of bed and broke the other one. Until her first hip fracture, my mother never used any medication or supplements. I am not even sure her food was varied enough after my father passed away years earlier. Maybe she had a Calcium deficit, I don’t know.
It made me study the benefits of Calcium thoroughly, because the healing process and the aftermath were difficult. And if I can prevent that happening to me, all the better. When you are aging, osteoporosis (bone loss or bone weakening) is a huge risk, especially for women.
Calcium is a mineral highly needed for building and maintaining the bones and teeth. Calcium helps against osteoporosis when we are aging. It is necessary for the proper functioning of the nerves and muscles. It helps blood to clot; in the absence of Calcium no blood clotting is possible. And it is necessary for the transport of other minerals in the body, such as sodium, potassium and magnesium.
Other benefits of Calcium are that it reduces the risk for certain cancers, especially colon cancer and breast cancer. A higher Calcium intake can lower the “bad” cholesterol (LDL). This can also be beneficial for blood pressure and a healthy heart.
How do we make sure our intake of Calcium is big enough?
Our first priority is the variety of the food we eat. Food containing Calcium:
- Milk and milk products like yoghurt
- Beans, white and brown
- Nuts, like almonds, hazelnuts and Brazil nuts
Dairy is the greatest source of Calcium. Does this mean I am at a loss if I don’t eat or drink dairy? Not necessarily, but it is obvious I have to be extra careful then. That’s why I eat a lot of nuts and why I take a Calcium supplement.
Vitamin D stimulates the absorption of Calcium in the body. But I also have a Vitamin D deficiency, hence I take a Vitamin D supplement as well. That’s why I take extra care of what I eat and do.
Smoking and alcohol prevent the absorption of Calcium.
What is the required daily amount of Calcium?
For adults the recommended daily amount is 1.000 mg. And it has to be more when aging. When you are between 50 and 70 the recommended dose is 1.100 mg and when you are over 70 even 1.200 mg. (Source: Dutch Nutrition Center)
It’s not immediately bad if your intake is occasionally more than 2.500 mg, but it is seen as the maximum dose. The risk for taking more than the maximum quantity is calcification of the kidneys and blood vessel walls, or kidney stones. High doses disrupt the absorption of minerals like iron, zinc, magnesium and phosphorus.
With a varied diet and normal supplement intake you don’t have to worry you’re overdosing yourself. For that you would have to drink at least 2 to 3 liters of milk each day!
What are the effects of Calcium deficiency?
I have already mentioned osteoporosis as the main risk for elderly women. For young children Calcium deficiency can cause rickets. And for both the elderly and the young, a serious deficiency can cause muscle cramps.
When a lack of vitamin D prevents Calcium to sufficiently absorbed, there is a risk of osteomalacia (bone softening).
As with any serious problem, when you are in doubt it is crucial you visit a doctor.
Nothing stands on itself – what more can we do?
This website is about supplements. This doesn’t mean however that I recommend to concentrate your intake of the necessary vitamins and minerals on supplements alone. Everything on this earth functions better when it is in balance.
For the human body this means you take the best care of yourself when your body and mind is in harmony with each other. That you balance rest and movement.
When you are aging it is required to exercise enough. Young people run around most of the time. Busy jobs and demanding family tasks usually make sure they move enough during a day. Some seniors consider growing older as the designated time to slow done and sit a lot. It is the worst decision you can make in my opinion.
Exercise promotes the absorption of Calcium
In aging bodies a lot of processes slow down. This also applies to the absorption of Calcium. Moving around stimulates this absorption.
You don’t have to exhaust yourself at the gym. (Although there is nothing against that either!) A simple daily half hour walk in the open air is sufficient.
When you – like me – want to take extra care of your bones and hips, do exercises that train specific parts of your body. I do general strength training several times a week. One of the exercises is the Hip Helper, which helps to develop my sense of balance and strengthens the muscles.
Don’t rush exercises like this, it’s not a speed game. Executing them mindfully is way better for the desired result.
Don’t be too stubborn to take necessary measurements!
Like a lot of people I don’t mind that I am aging, but I do mind being treated as a mumbling old woman. And sometimes I’m hypersensitive to even a hint of age discrimination. If eventually this would mean that I refuse to do certain things because that would mark me as ‘being old’ I am acting against my own well-being.
A friend of my mother refused to use a walking stick for that reason. She always walked with a bicycle next to her, suggesting she just had a ride and was now walking the bicycle to its shed. And when she fell into the wrong direction one day, sprawling across the bike, she had to be rushed to the hospital.
That’s why I vary my food, take my Calcium supplements and do my exercises to prevent falls devotedly. 🙂
What Calcium rich food do you like most? Tell me in the comment box.