By now, you’ve probably seen enough yogurt and almond advertisements to know that calcium has become a strong selling point.
Sure, calcium plays an important for the structure and function of the bones and teeth, but its importance goes way beyond just that.
Calcium is the most abundant mineral in the body, and for good reason: It’s required for vascular contraction and vasodilation, muscle function, nerve transmission, intracellular signaling, hormonal secretion, and to make blood clots.
1% of your body’s calcium content goes towards these functions while the other 99% remains in the bones and teeth. As your body performs functions requiring calcium, it leeches calcium from old bone cells. Bones are actually continuously being broken down and remodeled as you consume and use calcium (1,2).
To keep your bones at their best, the National Institute of Health recommends 1,000mg a day for adult women and 1,200mg for men.
Here’s an easy chart with the recommendations. Of course, certain health conditions may require that you consult your doctor, naturopath, or nutritionist to adjust your intake.
|0–6 months*||200 mg||200 mg|
|7–12 months*||260 mg||260 mg|
|1–3 years||700 mg||700 mg|
|4–8 years||1,000 mg||1,000 mg|
|9–13 years||1,300 mg||1,300 mg|
|14–18 years||1,300 mg||1,300 mg||1,300 mg||1,300 mg|
|19–50 years||1,000 mg||1,000 mg||1,000 mg||1,000 mg|
|51–70 years||1,000 mg||1,200 mg|
|71+ years||1,200 mg||1,200 mg|
These quantities can be a difficult to reach through diet alone for vegans, pregnant women, and lactose intolerant people. Not getting of calcium can lead to osteopenia, which may develop into osteoporosis (3).
The Warning Signs
Osteopenia is much easier to manage and reverse than osteoporosis is, so watch out for these signs to know if you’re getting enough calcium. If you experience any of the symptoms below, talk to your doctor (4).
Muscle cramps and pains: Nighttime leg cramps can be an indication that your magnesium, potassium, and calcium levels are too low since these minerals regulate muscle contraction (5). These symptoms can normally be remedied by eating calcium-rich food before bed and taking a nightly Epsom salt bath.
Bruising easily : Since calcium plays a role in clotting blood, it can stop a small bruise from spreading or appearing by restricting the amount of blood that escapes damaged capillaries.
Receding gums : This symptom is most common is menopausal women as their jaw loses bone mass and it begins to affect the teeth and gums. Similarly, toothaches can also be a prime indication of calcium deficiency.
Height loss : Shrinking grandparents isn’t a myth– spinal fracture caused by low bone density and atrophied muscles can make you get shorter as you age. Losing strength is another prime symptom of calcium deficiency that shouldn’t be ignored.
Memory loss : Calcium is important for nerve signaling, so not getting enough in your youth can lead to memory problems as well as other neurological symptoms.
Brittle nails : Calcium is necessary for strong nails- so much so that brittle nails are one of the earliest signs of calcium deficiency. This symptom is less obvious in swimmers and gardeners, as these hobbies weaken nails.
How To Make Your Own Supplement
Instead of buying expensive supplements that can have questionable origins, you can actually make your own calcium powder at home by using something you typically throw out – egg shells.
Keep in mind that your total of calcium intake should be around 1,000mg, not your supplement intake alone. In most cases, 1/4-1/2 teaspoon of this eggshell supplement (equivalent to 450-900mg, respectively) is enough to help you meet your daily goals alongside the calcium you get through your diet.
Too much calcium can lead to cardiovascular issues, kidney stones, acute gastrointestinal symptoms, and nutrient malabsorption, so it’s important to adjust your supplement intake only to fill in the gaps that your meals can’t provide (7).
- 12 eggshells
- A colander
- A large pot
- A cookie sheet
- A blender
- Fill a pot large enough to accommodate all the shells with water and bring it to a boil.
- Rinse the empty eggshells using a colander.
- Make sure to leave the membrane in the shell.
- Carefully transfer the eggshells into the pot and boil for ten minutes, submerging any floating eggs. This will kill any potential pathogens on the shell.
- In the meantime, preheat your oven to 200°F.
- After they’ve boiled, remove the eggs from the water and let them drain.
- Place the eggs on a cookie sheet, jagged side up.
- Bake for 15 minutes
- Grind them up in a blender or coffee grinder until they form a fine powder.
To help your body process the calcium, take it with foods rich in calcium, Vitamin D, and vitamin K2.