Dem bones, dem bones…we’ve got bones on the brain today. According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, approximately 1.5 million Canadians aged 40 or better suffer from osteoporosis (2009). And because they start at a lower bone density than men and lose bone mass more quickly with age, women are particularly susceptible to this bone disease.
As bones become thin and weak from osteoporosis, the possibility of painful fractures increases, even from simple falls, bends, or minor traumas. To help maintain bone strength, an adequate daily intake of calcium is essential.
We all know that calcium does a body good, but do you realize just how much good it does? Almost every cell in the body uses calcium in some way—from the heart to the nervous system to, of course, the bones and teeth. So we’re singing the praises of calcium today by highlighting some of the benefits of this important mineral.
As mentioned, osteoporosis is characterized by low bone mass and a loss of bone tissue, which leads to increased fragility and risk of fracture. The hip, spine, wrist, and shoulder are particularly at risk. Adequate calcium intake (with vitamin D) can significantly increase bone mass in children and young adults and help decrease bone loss in people aged 30 and older.
Aid in weight management
Calcium may play a part in how your body breaks down and stores fats: the more calcium in a fat cell, the more fat it burns. Acting as a natural catalyst on the metabolism, calcium helps increase the digestive processes to help you maintain an optimal body weight.
Minimize PMS symptoms
In women who are deficient in calcium and vitamin D, the hormones that regulate calcium can react negatively with estrogen and progesterone. This can lead to the triggering of premenstrual symptoms (PMS), including mood swings, bloating and pain. A daily intake of 1000 mg of calcium and 1000-2000 mg of vitamin D can help minimize these symptoms.
Support a healthy smile
Strong, healthy teeth are no strangers to calcium—99% of the body’s calcium reserves are stored in the bones and teeth, where they provide important structural support. Osteoporosis can cause the jawbone to weaken, which can lead to loose or lost teeth and calcium deficiency can raise your risk of gum disease.
Transport nutrients throughout the body
When combined with vitamin D, calcium is the chief transporter of nutrients between the cells in your body. In addition to providing the basic support for your skeletal structure, this vital mineral makes sure that each one of your cells receives the nutrients it needs to replicate and grow.
Keeping your bones (and the rest of your body) strong and healthy is important at every stage of your life. Regular physical activity and the support of calcium supplements can help prevent, delay or decrease bone loss, so take good care of dem bones!