Calcium deficiencies can be caused by insufficient calcium in your diet, or by a lack of the minerals absorption in your system.
Our bones and teeth store 99% of the calcium in our body; the rest is stored in our tissues and blood. When young, calcium is critical in helping our bodies build healthy, strong, dense bones.
As we get older it is even more important to maintain healthy levels of calcium because our bones only store calcium up until about the age of 35. It is much more difficult to replace calcium after that point in time.
Consequently, young children, teenagers and mature women are the most at risk.
What does calcium do for our health?
- It helps…
- …our blood to clot
- …regulate the contraction and relaxation of our muscles
- …strengthen our teeth and bones
- …heart functions
- …transmit nervous system messages
All of these functions are essential and we want them to keep humming along in our systems!
What are the signs and symptoms of calcium deficiency?
Tiring easily, a feeling of listlessness and skin pallor can be signs that your body is not getting enough calcium. But, it can be difficult to detect this problem and the best action to take is to eat a diet rich in calcium to prevent these types of problems from occurring.
A long term lack of enough calcium can result in not only osteoporosis (particularly in women experiencing menopause), but also rickets and poor blood clotting.
What foods help to minimize or eliminate calcium deficiency?
Ensuring that your daily diet includes foods that are rich in calcium is the very best way to maintain proper levels of this nutrient. Supplements are just that…supplements, and should be discussed with your family physician, as it is possible to take too much calcium, which can result in gastrointestinal issues like bloating and constipation.
There are times, however, when additional calcium is recommended, such as for women who show signs of osteopenia, which is the beginning stages of osteoporosis.
Which Foods are rich in calcium?
- Milk and milk products. Most of us learned at an early age that ‘drinking milk builds strong bones’. Cheese, yogurt and buttermilk are also good sources of calcium.
- Leafy green vegetables – broccoli, spinach, collards and bok choy.
- Fish – salmon and sardines specifically
- Nuts – brazil nuts and almonds
- Calcium fortified foods, such as bread, breakfast cereal and fruit juice (always read package labels to determine the amount of calcium per serving.
Calcium deficiency can be minimized and avoided altogether in the vast majority of people, young and old.
How to Increase Bone Density after Calcium Deficiency?
As a women in her mid fifties, I know from experience how my body is changing as I age.
Sometimes, just getting up out of a sitting position, or kneeling down to pick something up off of the floor, makes my bones creak and crack.
I’m not carrying extra weight, plus I work out regularly. So when I have to put extra effort into some activities that used to be easy, simple and done without a thought, my body is ‘speaking’ to me, saying, “I’m changing whether you like it or not, so you better take care of me!”
We want strong bones as we age, to help keep us mobile, feeling young and most of all, to enable us to remain independent as we reach our later years.
Research has shown that new bone growth is stimulated when we engage in activities that put increased stress on our bones. This is usually referred to as resistance training or weight bearing exercises.
These types of exercises are different than aerobic exercise. Although both are needed, the first type of exercise helps increase our bone density.
What is the best way to increase bone density?
A great way is lifting weights, and varying the routine so we will work various areas of our body, and thus help bone density in those areas.
Here are a few tips for lifting weights:
- Rotate between strength training (lifting weights) and aerobic training. Give your muscles at least a one day break between strength training.
- The most effective bone density exercise is to lift a weight heavy enough that you can only do 7-8 repetitions. When you can do 15 repetitions of a weight, go to the next higher weight.
- Slow lifting is the key to stronger bones, so try to life each weight to a slow count of eight. It’s harder than it sounds, but will give you the results you need.
- I came across this suggestion while researching this topic, and I think it has merit for keeping our bones and muscles strong: ”Get up from your chair without using your hands or arms. The ability to do this means that your legs are strong. And it is often noticed that those who can not do this simple movement are often candidates for assisted living. If you want to maintain your independence, get up for your chair without using your hands.”
Another way to increase bone density that is just as critical as weight training is getting enough of two very important nutrients, Vitamin D and Calcium.
Calcium is needed for bone formation, but also is important to other functions of your body.
If you don’t get the calcium your body needs, it will get the calcium from your bones, and the result can be lower bone density. Don’t let this happen to you!
Hand in hand with calcium consumption is getting enough Vitamin D, as this nutrient is crucial for proper absorption of calcium into your body.
- Calcium can be found in Dairy Products, Meat, Nuts, particularly Almonds, Broccoli, White and Navy Beans, Oranges, Tofu, Okra, Sardines and Salmon. Calcium supplements are another way to ensure you are getting enough of this nutrient into your system.
- Vitamin D can be produced by your body through direct exposure to sunlight (a short amount of exposure is all you need), or you can consume foods such as Tuna, Beef Liver, fortified Dairy Products, Whole Eggs, Salmon, Shrimp and Cod.
The proper use of a supplement to address the signs of lessening bone density may provide the additional help you need to reduce the risk of fractures and build denser and stronger bones.
Many women suffer from deficiencies of different kinds while going through menopause. The best thing to do is to check with your doctor regarding any deficiencies you have so you can take steps to deal with them.
If you find that you are indeed deficient in calcium and have low bone density as a result, then take the steps in this article to increase your levels.
The two most important vitamins and minerals for increasing your bone density is getting enough calcium and vitamin D. And the best exercises you can do are definitely weight baring workouts with weights that allow you to do about 7-8 reps per exercise.