As you get older, it becomes more and more important to watch out for your health. Your body changes once you pass the age of 50, and sometimes it needs some extra support. It is easy to worry about your health, but knowledge is a powerful tool. Understanding your nutritional needs can give you the confidence to look after your health properly. So if you are concerned about your Calcium needs as a mature adult, then it is time to find out the facts about this mineral and your health.
The risks of Calcium deficiency mainly concern bone health. The importance of Calcium to healthy bones means that a deficiency can lead to bone conditions developing. Adults with a low Calcium intake are at risk of low bone mineral density. Your bone mineral density measures how strong and mineral rich your bones are. A low bone density means that the bones are weak and light. This makes the risk of injury much higher, and can eventually lead to the development of serious health conditions. For example, Osteoporosis can be caused by poor bone mineral density. Osteoporosis can affect anyone of any age. However, it is particularly common amongst post-menopausal women. The menopause can take its toll on the body and lead to low bones mineral density. Osteoporosis is characterised by weakened bones that are prone to fractures and breakages. It can also cause muscle pain and sensitivity. This is why a good supply oof various minerals in your diet throughout life is vital.
Another bone disease to be aware of as an older person is Osteoarthritis. This is the most common form of Arthritis, a degenerative joint disease. It causes weakened joints and bones. This leads to severely limited mobility. Osteoarthritis sufferers experience stiffness and swelling of the joints, as well as weakened bones. This can make even normal everyday movement difficult. This inflammatory condition can be painful and difficult to live with. But it can be controlled with a specialised diet and physical therapy. Having a good supply of Calcium in your diet can help to lower your risk of developing this condition.
Your bones constantly go through a process of repair. Like your skin cells, bone tissues are replaced over and over again throughout your life. This is so that bones can grow, develop, and adjust to the state of your health. Your diet and how much exercise you get will determine how often this regeneration process will occur, and how effective it will be. By renewing the bones, your body heals any minor or major damage the bones have experienced. As you age, your bones become less efficient at regenerating themselves. This means that any damage that your bones experience will not heal as quickly as they used to. This can cause an accumulation of damage over time. This greatly increases your risk of bone related diseases. Getting an adequate supply of Calcium is thus vital once you pass the age of 50.
It is true that the main use of Calcium for the body is to support bone health. If you ask someone why they need Calcium, they will tell you it is for bones and teeth. But did you know that Calcium is also important for heart health? Keeping your heart healthy becomes vital as you mature. Ensuring you have a good supply of Calcium is just one way to support good cardiovascular health. Calcium ensures that the blood vessels stay strong and healthy, and it also helps to monitor blood pressure. Asides from this, Calcium plays an essential role in maintaining a regular heartbeat. This is because the mineral is essential for muscle contractions. Calcium supports the contraction of heart muscles. When your heart muscles contract, blood is pumped out of the heart and around the body. As your heart gets weaker when you age, circulation can become poor. But with a good supply of Calcium in your diet this can be potentially prevented. Getting your daily Calcium needs will prevent irregular heartbeat, poor circulation, and other cardiovascular problems.
How Much Calcium?
At different ages, you will need different amounts of Calcium on a daily basis. Between the ages of 19 and 50, both men and women need to get at least 1000 mg of Calcium a day. After the age of 50 the RDA, or Recommended Daily Allowance, changes for women. Women are much more prone to bone diseases like Osteoporosis. This means that they need even more Calcium than mature men do. This becomes particularly important as you grow older. Women over the age of 50 need about 1200 mg of Calcium a day, whilst men still only need 1000 mg. Only after the age of 70 do men need 1200 mg. For the older generation, Calcium becomes more and more important. As your bones become weaker because of the wear and tear of life, Calcium is even more essential. This is why your calcium needs will go up as you go older. Being aware of this will help you stay on top of your nutritional needs for bone health.
The most obvious dietary source of Calcium is dairy products. Including milk, cheese, and yoghurt in your diet can help to ensure that you get a regular supply of Calcium from a rich source. If you are worried about weight gain or cholesterol levels, opt for low fat yoghurts and cheeses, and choose semi skimmed or skimmed milks. Be aware that these low fat options may contain more sugar than their full fat versions. If you are Diabetic or at risk of Diabetes, then choose your low fat dairy products with caution.
If you don’t eat dairy for whatever reasons, you can choose soya based products. Soya milk, yoghurt, cheese, ice cream, and even cream are all fairly widely available. Other plant based alternatives to soya, such as nut milks or rice milk, can be found in fortified versions. Try to look for fortified products when choosing you plant based alternatives to dairy. These fortified foods will often be comparable to dairy products in terms of Calcium content. Other Calcium rich foods to consider include beans, nuts, and leafy green vegetables. Eating a varied diet will help to ensure that you get all the Calcium you need from your diet?
How much Vitamin D do you get in your daily life? Is it enough? It can be difficult to tell, and many people overlook their Vitamin D needs. As well as Calcium, you need to get Vitamin D in order to preserve good bone health. Not many people realise that there is a connection between Calcium and Vitamin D. The link is an important one though, so is worth understanding. Vitamin D plays many important roles in the body. One of the main uses for this vitamin is to promote proper Calcium uptake. Vitamin D is required by your body in order for Calcium to be absorbed and used effectively. Without enough Vitamin D, your body will use Calcium much less effectively. This can increase your risk of bone diseases. But with enough Vitamin D, this does not have to be a worry.
Unlike most other vitamins, Vitamin D is not mainly obtained through the diet. As unusual as it sounds, Vitamin D is actually produced by your own body when sunlight hits your skin. Sounds strange, doesn’t it? Well, if you think of how plants make energy from sunlight, it makes more sense. So the main way to get Vitamin D in your diet is to go outside and expose skin to sunlight. Doing this on a regular basis, particularly in the summer, will ensure you have a good intake. Just 15 minutes of exposure to sunlight every few days is enough.
However, if you are housebound or live in a cold climate like the UK, this can be difficult. Many older people worry that they will not be able to protect the wellbeing of their bones because they cannot get enough Vitamin D. You can be reassured that you don’t need too much sunlight to give you good reserves of this important vitamin. However, you can also eat oily fish like salmon and cod regularly. Oil derived from fish, like Cod Liver Oil, also contains a high concentration of Vitamin D. Mushrooms, fortified breakfast cereals, dairy products, and some soya foods are also good options. These foods contain a good supply of Vitamin D, so can be valuable when you are unable to get enough sunlight. You can also choose to take a supplement if you are concerned, but this should not usually be a necessity.
Too Much Calcium?
Whilst it is important to stock up on Calcium, it is worth being aware that too much Calcium can be bad for you. It can sometimes be hard for people to imagine that your health could be damaged by too much Calcium. Surely more is better, right? The problem is that your body can only cope with so much Calcium. It processes minerals like Calcium fairly slowly, and will only remove excess supply. Whilst it is very uncommon for anyone to get too much Calcium, it is a risk when you take supplements.
According to a recent study, taking too many Calcium supplements can actually increase your risk of heart failure. In the study it was found that women who took too much Calcium were at a greater risk of dying from heart failure. This is because the Calcium flooded the body and overwhelmed the cardiovascular system. Remember, Calcium plays a role in cardiovascular health as well. Too much Calcium floods the blood supply and causes problems. To avoid this problem, never go over the recommended daily doses. This is especially important if you already have poor cardiovascular health. Take a supplement only if you need it. Otherwise, focus on getting enough Calcium from your diet.