You eat your yogurt, train each day and chew that calcium complement like a champ. Osteoporosis doesn’t stand an opportunity — you’re a calcium famous person!
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Calcium is essential to a sturdy skeleton, and it’s vital for the wholesome operate of nerves and muscle tissues, together with your coronary heart.
“Calcium is so important for the bones and teeth of growing children, but as adults, we sometimes forget how important it is throughout our lifetime,” says endocrinologist Susan Williams, MD.
But in relation to calcium, it’s really attainable to have an excessive amount of of a superb factor: Calcium can construct as much as unhealthy ranges in your bloodstream.
In truth, excessive calcium ranges (hypercalcemia) could cause a wide range of points that vary in severity from complications to life-threatening coronary heart issues.
But don’t toss your calcium dietary supplements out simply but. Dr. Williams and heart specialist Leslie Cho, MD, clarify what occurs when calcium ranges creep too excessive — and easy methods to strike a wholesome steadiness.
Can you are taking an excessive amount of calcium?
It’s surprisingly straightforward to overdo calcium dietary supplements, particularly for those who devour a variety of dairy or in any other case get loads of calcium out of your meals.
Complicating issues additional, your calcium ranges also can rise from:
- Quite a lot of illnesses, together with parathyroid issues and various cancers.
- High doses of nutritional vitamins A and D.
- Over-the-counter antacid chews and tablets.
Guidelines suggest a complete of 1,000 milligrams (mg) per day for ladies and folks assigned feminine at beginning (AFAB) till age 50 and for males and folks assigned male at beginning (AMAB) till age 70.
Past these birthdays, you need to purpose for 1,200 mg per day. (For context, a cup of milk or a serving of yogurt every has about 300 mg of calcium.)
A fast look at a web-based retailer will present you that the majority over-the-counter calcium dietary supplements are between 600 and 1,200 milligrams. In different phrases, relying on the complement you are taking, you may exceed your advisable each day quantity of calcium earlier than sitting down for breakfast.
Other uncomfortable side effects of excessive calcium ranges
Hypercalcemia might be gentle, reasonable or extreme. It might be acute (short-term) or power, relying on what’s inflicting your calcium ranges to go up.
Many individuals — particularly these with out an underlying well being problem inflicting their calcium ranges to be elevated — don’t have apparent signs of hypercalcemia. But these signs can all probably level to the situation:
Luckily, hypercalcemia attributable to dietary supplements and antacids normally reverses shortly while you cease taking them, Dr. Williams says. Untreated, although, long-term hypercalcemia might be critical — even life-threatening.
Calcium’s impact in your coronary heart
One of the first organs impacted by excessive calcium ranges is your coronary heart. For instance, possibly you’ve heard that consuming an excessive amount of calcium can improve your danger of a coronary heart assault. According to Dr. Cho, coronary artery disease strikes when one thing blocks the arteries that ship blood to your coronary heart. Most of the time, that one thing is atherosclerosis — fatty deposits known as plaques that glom onto the partitions of the arteries. Plaques within the coronary arteries can result in coronary heart assaults and stroke.
But plaques aren’t simply lumps of fats and ldl cholesterol. Healthcare suppliers now know that calcium also can accumulate in these deposits.
“Calcium builds up in the arteries as you age,” explains Dr. Cho.
The excellent news is suppliers can really see it utilizing a calcium-score screening (a sort of CT scan that spots calcium within the arteries).
“The calcium lays on the plaques in the arteries, so when we see it on the scan, it serves as a marker for the presence of plaques,” Dr. Cho says.
In older individuals, it’s widespread to have a variety of calcium within the arteries, she provides. But in middle-aged adults, it will probably sign higher plaque buildup — and the necessity for nearer monitoring or extra aggressive remedy for atherosclerosis.
But the analysis on the connection between excessive calcium ranges and coronary artery illness stays inconclusive. One study discovered individuals who had excessive calcium consumption had much less — no more — calcification of their coronary arteries. But that was largely true for individuals who obtained calcium from their meals moderately than capsules. There have been additionally hints that dietary supplements may improve calcium deposits within the arteries. While the findings are fuzzy, there’s one helpful takeaway for anyone trying to defend their ticker: Choose calcium-rich meals over dietary supplements each time you’ll be able to.
Get calcium from meals when you’ll be able to
“It’s better to get your calcium from food or drink than to take it in pill form. Your body is designed to absorb vitamins and minerals from your diet,” Dr. Cho says.
If you’re not delicate to dairy, a superb supply of dietary calcium is grass-fed, natural Greek yogurt. It offers you 450 mg of calcium per serving, plus vitamin D and protein.
Additional extremely absorbable sources of calcium embody:
Other methods to keep away from calcium overload
Aside from focusing in your meals selections and being conscious of what dietary supplements you are taking, how else are you able to ensure you’re getting sufficient calcium with out going overboard?
- Drink up. Dehydration can result in gentle hypercalcemia, when the quantity of fluid in your blood will get too low, so maintain your water bottle stuffed and prepared.
- Do the maths. Between multivitamins, dietary supplements, antacids and your morning yogurt, your each day calcium consumption can add up sooner than you understand. Pay consideration to how a lot you’re actually consuming.
- Be cautious with antacids. Calcium-rich antacid tablets may also help with heartburn, however taking them too typically might have unintended penalties. If you’re getting acid reflux frequently, discuss to your physician about various remedies.
- Focus on stopping calcium loss. As necessary as it’s to ensure you’re getting sufficient calcium, it’s additionally necessary to keep away from calcium loss. Doing which will maintain you from needing a complement in any respect! To maintain your calcium ranges the place they belong, that you must:
- Avoid extra sodium (salt) intake.
- Avoid smoking.
- Reduce your consumption of caffeine and different stimulant drinks. After two small (5-ounce) servings each day, calcium might be misplaced in your urine.
- Make certain you’re getting sufficient vitamin D. Your physician can decide your stage via an entire blood depend (CBC).
Talk to your physician
You’ve in all probability heard that it’s necessary to talk to your physician earlier than taking a brand new complement. Calcium is a superb instance of the explanation why you need to take that recommendation. We all want calcium, and supplementation is widespread, however we don’t all want the identical quantity—and even the identical variety. And — as you now know — supplementation might be harmful for some individuals.
Some prescription medicines (like thiazide diuretics and lithium) and situations (like hyperparathyroidism or lung cancer) can disrupt the steadiness of calcium in your system, inflicting hypercalcemia. Your physician can evaluate your medical historical past and prescriptions to seek out out for those who’re in danger. It’s equally necessary to your physician to learn about any different dietary supplements you’re taking.
Vitamin D, for instance, helps your physique soak up calcium — however, as we all know — absorbing an excessive amount of calcium is harmful. It’s necessary, then, to know your vitamin D ranges earlier than beginning a calcium complement. You must be equally cautious for those who take excessive doses of vitamin A.
This can also be why scheduling an everyday check-up is necessary. Most physicians test calcium and vitamin D ranges throughout routine blood checks that you just get in an annual examination.
There’s no denying the significance of calcium to our well being and well-being. It’s one of many first minerals we study rising up as a result of it helps us develop up. For many people, calcium supplementation is a vital instrument in our quest to get and keep “big and strong.”
But that doesn’t imply calcium dietary supplements are proper for everyone — or that there’s no such factor as an excessive amount of calcium. Overdoing it with dietary supplements can undermine calcium’s advantages, and even make you sick. That’s why it’s necessary to talk together with your physician earlier than you combine a complement into your each day routine. With their assist, you might be certain you’re getting the proper (and quantity) of this mighty mineral.