In the USA, about 17 million women face a risk of osteoporosis, a gradual thinning of the bones that in later age has the effect of spine curvature, hip fractures and generally fragile bone structure. Sufficient calcium intake by young women ensures that they build up peak bone mass and achieves optimal bone density, because avoiding the risk of osteoporosis in later life.
Calcium take for women is a much discussed subject today on the media and at various health related conferences and literature. There are mixed views despite the fact that the importance of calcium is indeed immense in women's diet, even more so than in men.
Some studies have linked sufficient calcium intake to prevention of weight gain in middle age, which, combined with the ability of calcium to prevent cholesterol build up and control blood pressure significantly lowers the risk of heart disease in older women. According to a 1999 Harvard study, calcium supplement take reduces risks of strokes in middle aged women.
According to a study, women on a high calcium diet reported less cramping, bloating, anxiety and depression in the pre menstrual period compared to women taking lower levels of calcium. Given the advantages, it is imperative that women include sufficient amount of calcium in their diet. The major source is dairy products such as cheese, milk, yogurt, and butter. However, the downside is that these products also contain a lot of fats, which in turn increase risk aversely affect the body, leading to heart diseases. There are alternative sources of calcium too, such as sardines, clams, oysters, tuna, broccoli and kale. Soy milk, mustard greens, and turnip greens are also good calcium sources. Also, calcium fortified cereals and juices are commonly available, and can be easily incorporated into the breakfast menu.
However, for several women, the pace of modern life does not allow for careful planning of a nutritious diet. Here for them a good option is calcium supplements. These can form a large part of the daily calcium requirement, and the rest is then easy to make up through a glass of milk, a cup of fruit yogurt or fortified cereal.
On the other hand, excess of anything can cause problems, and with calcium it is no different. According to a New Zealand study, calcium supplements actually increased the risk of heart disease in healthy post menopausal women. However, the finds were neither conclusive nor have they yet been replicated. In any case, it is a known fact that excess calcium does form deposits in the body which can cause kidney stones or even lead to kidney impairment, as well as causing minor problems such as loss of appetite, nausea and constipation. Calcium may also prevent other minerals, like zinc and potassium, from being absorbed properly in the body.
To avoid problems caused by excess calcium in the body, it is best to consult the doctor before starting any calcium supplement, because these can sometimes react with other medication a woman may be taking. Also, one needs to ensure that the total calcium from the diet and the supplement should not exceed the daily requirement. Further, the absorption of calcium too has to be ensured. For this, doctors suggest taking foods rich in Vitamin D at all times, and in particular, that thirty minutes before and after taking a supplement only those foods should be taken that aid calcium absorption. These include lactose, proteins and acidic foods. Those that should be avoided are cocoa, spinach and alkaline foods, among others. Some doctors suggest taking a supplement right after a meal to ensure proper digestion and absorption.
In case any symptoms of excess calcium appear, one must see a doctor immediately and get blood calcium level tested. In case the level of calcium is high, calcium rich foods should be avoided until the level drops back to normal.
However, severe problems only occur in case calcium dosage becomes 3-4 times more than that required. Hence the more important thing is to ensure that sufficient calcium is obtained, as its importance for women can not be over stressed.