Knowing about the many types of nutrients could easily be a full-time job unto itself. But if you don’t have the time and simply want to know what makes a vitamin, mineral, botanical, or other nutrient valuable to your health, you’ve come to the right place.
Calcium for Strong Bones, a Healthy Heart, and Muscle Recovery
Calcium is the most abundant mineral in the body, with 99 percent of it being used by your bones and teeth. The remaining one percent helps regulate hormones, maintain nerve signals, and moderate heart rhythms. Because of these intense responsibilities, calcium needs to be replenished every day.
However, food sources of calcium may not be enough. For instance, if there isn’t enough calcium in your diet to draw from, bones can’t be refreshed with the building materials they need. Furthermore, any other function of the body that requires calcium will draw the mineral from your bones to meet those needs. The result can be brittle bones and frequent fractures. Fortunately, supplementing with calcium (along with vitamin D, magnesium, phosphorus, and silica) can help overcome this.
In one placebo-controlled clinical study, supplementing with 1,000 mg of calcium per day reduced bone loss in over 1,400 postmenopausal women. Another analysis of 29 clinical studies found that men and women over the age of 50 saw reduced risk of fractures, a slower rate of bone loss, and a reduction of bone loss in the hips and spine. But, like any successful endeavor, it pays to be consistent: individuals who were most diligent in their calcium supplementation showed a 24 percent reduced risk of fractures. At first glance, that might not sound like much, but considering the complications that bone fractures pose as individuals get older, it could mean the difference between healthy aging or immobility.
Aside from bone building, supplemental calcium may help prevent heart attacks. Both dietary and supplemental calcium have been associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease in clinical research. One study found that dietary calcium intake averaging 600 mg per day reduced risk of all cardiovascular conditions, and another found that a daily intake of about 820 mg of calcium resulted in a 30 percent decrease in the risk of myocardial infarction.
Calcium also plays a key role in the way muscles flex and contract, making it a valuable nutrient to athletes or anyone who is physically active. During exercise, calcium is released into the muscles, helping signal their contractions and movements. When you rest and your muscles relax, calcium—if you have enough left over—goes into a “stand-by” state. However, if you’ve used up your stores of calcium during exercise, you’re more likely to get muscle cramps and twitching at night.
Deciding what form of supplemental calcium is best is mostly a matter of how you want your body to use it. For instance, if you’re looking for bone-building calcium, then calcium bound to the amino acid glycinate (calcium bisglycinate chelate) is an excellent choice, as is calcium citrate malate. For soft-tissue function, like maintaining cardio or avoiding muscle cramps, consider calcium lactate. In either case, this hard-working mineral will have plenty to do.