Internet is full of information about calcium. Hence it is only natural for myths to float around owing to the misconceptions surrounding the topic.
Calcium is a key mineral in the body performing important body functions. More than 90 percent of it is stored in bones and teeth keeping them strong and healthy. But, that’s not all calcium does, it also plays a crucial part in keeping the blood from clotting, and prevents muscles from contracting. Calcium also maintains normal heart rhythm and regulates nerve function.
Since it a crucial mineral, just like any other food myth there are many myths surrounding calcium too. Let us debunk 4 commonly heard myths for you:
Myth #1: Extra calcium intake ensure strong bones
This is the most common myth people have about calcium. Calcium in our bodies is stored in bones and teeth. Sometimes when its level in the blood drops or when dietary calcium intake is not sufficient, the body extracts calcium from the bones. It uses it to replace the insufficient levels of the mineral in the body. But that doesn’t mean one needs to take extra calcium.
Calcium certainly plays an important role in bone health, but it doesn’t guarantee strong bones all by itself. In order to keep bones strong, the body also needs regular exercise and good nutrient-rich food. The nutrients that play a vital role in maintaining bone health and complete calcium absorption are vitamin D, K2, magnesium, and potassium. Vitamins D and K2 ensure proper calcium absorption and utilization respectively. Magnesium prevents bones from becoming brittle. Potassium on the other hand prevents sodium build-up leading to calcium excretion.
Myth #2: Dairy is the only source of calcium
The most well-known calcium source is milk and dairy products. Some believe dairy is the only source of calcium. But, next time you pick up that extra glass of milk or reach for an extra serving of cheese and yogurt, remember there are other sources too. Most of these sources are non-dairy.
Seeds such as chia, poppy, and sesame are high in calcium. Other sources of the mineral include almonds, dark leafy green vegetables, some bean varieties, amaranth, and sardines. Diversifying the food intake ensures the body gets all the nutrients in sufficient amounts.
Myth #3: Calcium intake causes kidney stones
This is yet another popular myth. People often fear calcium because they hear it causes kidney stones. But just because it forms part of the name calcium-oxalate stones, doesn’t make it the main culprit. In fact, studies show that reducing calcium intake can increase the risk of kidney stones. Because reduced intake puts one at the risk of over-absorbing oxalate, commonly found in fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes, and seeds. Hence it is necessary to consume a diet rich in calcium and other vital nutrients to prevent the formation of calcium oxalate stones.
Myth #4: Youngsters need not take calcium supplements
It is often thought that since adolescents consume meat, eggs, vegetables, and milk they do not need additional calcium supplements. Human food habits however do not provide the body with enough calcium. Hence, taking supplements prevents calcium deficiency problems as one ages.
With age, calcium requirement also increases. The body demands the most calcium as it hits puberty, which is about 1300 mg/day. Bones grow rapidly during the adolescence stage. Insufficient intake during these years causes calcium deficiency problems in adult life. Teens must therefore take enough calcium to build strong bones and prevent fractures in later life.
It is always advisable to consult your medical practitioner before starting on supplements.