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10 Benefits and Side Effects of Calcium Tablets

Calcium is the most important mineral element in the human body, about 99% of the calcium in the body is used to form bones and teeth, and the remaining 1% is distributed in blood, intracellular fluid, muscle and tissue, but do not underestimate this 1%, it is shouldering cell metabolism, muscle contraction, blood clotting, nerve conduction, hormone secretion and other important tasks, if the calcium concentration is unbalanced, it will be seriously life-threatening.

Dietary calcium deficiency is often found to be associated with a variety of diseases, such as obesity, hypertension, metabolic syndrome, etc., and calcium concentration markers in the body are also important in relation to blood glucose/insulin balance, diabetes, and blood lipids.

Why calcium supplementation?

According to the survey, due to the westernization of diet, 9% of Chinese people generally have insufficient calcium intake, calcium intake is only 430 mg per day, far lower than the 1,000 mg recommended by the World Health Organization, coupled with excessive intake of processed foods and insufficient exercise, the situation of calcium deficiency is even worse.

What are the recommended benefits of calcium tablets?

1. Slow down bone loss and reduce the incidence of fractures

After entering middle and old age, affected by hormones and various factors, the rate of osteocytosis will be greater than growth, and the bones begin to appear pores, and even toughness and strength decrease, especially in women (the incidence of osteoporosis after menopause is 50%).

Because bone loss is asymptomatic, it is often called a silent disease, and with age, the incidence of fractures increases.

It is estimated that there are more than 2 million osteoporosis-related fractures in the United States alone each year, of which 300,000 are the most serious hip fractures (up to 24% fatality rate in the elderly), resulting in tens of billions of dollars in medical costs (almost comparable to cardiovascular disease). Note 3

A meta-analysis (29 studies, 63,897 participants) found that taking calcium tablets and vitamin D in addition to slowing bone loss rates in the hip and spine and reducing the incidence of various forms of fracture by 12%. Note 1

The authors also mention that for optimal prevention, it is recommended to take at least 1200 mg of calcium and 800 IU of vitamin D per day.

Another meta-analysis (8 studies, 30,970 participants) pointed out that calcium supplementation and vitamin D helped reduce the total fracture risk by 15% and hip fracture risk by 30% in middle-aged and elderly people. Note 2

*Conclusion: Appropriate calcium and vitamin D supplementation can help slow bone loss and reduce the incidence of fractures

2. Reduce the incidence of esophageal cancer

Esophageal cancer is less explored among general cancers, ranking about 6th among common cancers, with high aggressiveness and low survival rate, generally divided into squamous cell carcinomas (37%) or adenocarcinomas (57%)

Retrospective studies have found that the main risk factors for esophageal cancer are: obesity, gastroesophageal reflux, smoking, frequent drinking of hot drinks, excessive intake of red meat, poor oral hygiene, low fruit and vegetable intake, Barrett’s esophagus, etc

A meta-analysis of the literature pointed out that 17 studies, 3396 cases of gastroesophageal cancer and 346,815 control groups showed that subjects with more calcium intake from their diet could reduce the incidence of esophageal cancer by 20% compared with those with the lowest calcium intake. Note 1

Subgroup analysis also found that the protective effect of calcium intake was most significant for esophageal squamous cell cancer, especially in Asians (less helpful in Europe and the United States).

*Summary: A calcium-rich diet can help reduce the incidence of esophageal cancer

3. Reduce the incidence of ovarian cancer

Although ovarian cancer accounts for only 4% of cancer cases (about 200,000 cases are diagnosed worldwide each year), it is one of the more malignant cancers in women, especially since survival rates have not improved much in the past 30 years, mainly due to the lack of effective screening methods (only 30% of patients can be detected at an early stage).

A literature analysis (Meta-Analysis, including 15 epidemiological studies, 7453 ovarian cancer cases and 493,415 participants) showed an inverse relationship between dietary calcium intake and ovarian cancer, and the population with the highest intake had a lower incidence of ovarian cancer. Note 1

The mechanism behind it may be related to the regulation of parathyroid hormone and the secretion of insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1) by calcium

*IGF-1 has the effect of promoting cell division and anti-apoptotic effect

*Summary: Higher calcium intake (from the natural diet) is associated with a lower incidence of ovarian cancer

4. Reduce the risk of breast cancer

Breast cancer ranks first among female cancers and is a malignant tumor that grows by abnormal division and expansion of milk ducts or mammary lobular cells.

Because breast cancer is rich in blood vessels, lymphatic vessels, and lymph nodes, if the cancer cells are out of control, it is very easy to metastasize and affect surrounding organs or tissues, so early detection is related to whether it can be cured.

A meta-analysis (11 generational studies with 872,895 participants) found that those who consumed the most calcium reduced the risk of breast cancer by 8% compared with those with the least calcium.

In addition, every 300 mg increase in dietary calcium intake helps reduce the risk of cancer by anywhere from 2% to 8%.Note 1

The mechanism behind it is still unknown, but it may be related to the regulation of cell proliferation, differentiation and apoptosis of calcium.

5. Beneficial dyslipidemia objects

Hyperlipidemia is mainly defined as total cholesterol and low-density cholesterol exceeding the standard value, which is the primary risk factor for cardiovascular disease (about 90.1% of patients with coronary heart disease have excessive blood lipids).

According to statistics in the United States, 48% of the adult population is dyslipidemia, and elevated LDL cholesterol is the most common.

Multiple clinical studies have also found that as long as LDL cholesterol can be reduced by 40% and HDL cholesterol can be increased by 30%, the risk of cardiovascular disease can be reduced by 70%.Note 16

A meta-analysis (including 22 randomized controlled trials) pointed out that additional calcium supplementation can help regulate blood lipids, reduce low-density bad cholesterol, and increase high-density good cholesterol, with an average reduction of 4.64 mg/dL and 1.93 mg/dL, respectively, but because the included studies have a short trial period (mostly less than 6 months), more long-term studies are needed to further verify.Note 17

The mechanism behind it is thought to be related to calcium uptake regulating calcitrophic hormone, further promoting fat decomposition and reducing lipid storage.

6. Reduce the risk of colorectal cancer

Colorectal cancer ranks third among common cancers (accounting for 10% of all cases), after lung cancer and prostate cancer in men, breast cancer and lung cancer in women.

The survival rate of colorectal cancer is important related to the stage of diagnosis, generally speaking, the 5-year survival rate of the lesion in situ at the time of diagnosis is 90%, and the survival rate will be greatly reduced to 10% if metastasis, so early detection is very important.

A large observational study (including 88,509 women and 47,740 men with a follow-up period of 33 years) found that observed subjects with a total daily calcium intake (from food or health food) greater than 1400 mg reduced the risk of colorectal cancer by 22% (compared with those with less than 600 mg).Note 1

The preventive effect of calcium intake was found to be more pronounced in proximal colon cancer (anterior middle colon connected to the small intestine) (compared to distal colon cancer, the colon near the opening).

*Proximal colon cancer refers to (cecum/cecum, ascending colon, transverse colon/transverse colon site), which is the more malignant type of colorectal cancer.Note 2

7. Risk of cardiovascular disease

In addition to cancer, cardiovascular disease is the second largest health threat to human beings, according to the well-known Framingham Heart Study in the United States: heart disease is often manifested suddenly, especially in men, 62% of the first attack is sudden death or myocardial infarction, and women are as high as 46%, which means that heart disease often kills people without warning, making people unpreventableNote 3

Several studies have found an association between calcium and reduced cardiovascular mortality, for example, in a large observation (in 3,<> menopausal women), calcium supplementation (either from food or health food) reduced mortality from ischemic heart diseaseNote 4(The mechanism behind it may be related to the fact that calcium has the ability to regulate blood lipids, blood glucose metabolism, and improve blood pressure).

Other observations later came to a different conclusion, suggesting that calcium supplementation actually increased the risk of cardiovascular disease, thus causing a lot of panic. But so far this view has not been confirmed, and no similar results have been found. Note 5

Other recent large database observations (up to 3 to 7 years) have found that additional calcium or vitamin D supplementation does not increase the risk of cardiovascular disease (e.g., myocardial infarction, angina, acute arterial symptoms). Note 6

8. Soothes premenstrual discomfort

About 75% of women of childbearing age experience various mild physical and mental discomforts before menstruation, 20% to 50% are moderate, and the other 5% are more severe severe premenstrual dysphoric disorder, which may have symptoms such as irritability, nervousness, depression, breast pain, abdominal pain, etc., often seriously interfering with daily life

There are two peaks in estrogen during the menstrual cycle, an increase in progesterone (ovulation) and a luteal phase, when calcium concentrations are at their lowest.

Clinically, it has also been found that the symptoms of premenstrual discomfort overlap highly with hypocalcemia, so calcium supplementation can alleviate many premenstrual physical and mental symptoms (such as irritability, anxiety, depression, social withdrawal, headache, abdominal cramps, etc.)Note 8

A double-prevention controlled study published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology found that taking calcium tablets improved the symptoms of premenstrual discomfort by 48% (using scale analysis), compared with only 30% in the placebo group (and the four core symptoms such as negative mood, edema, food cravings, and pain were significantly reduced).Note 9

9. Reduce the incidence of diabetes

Diabetes is a skyrocketing disease in countries around the world, with 4100 million people at potential risk in the United States alone, but only 100 million diagnosed each year. Due to the skyrocketing obesity population, the World Health Organization estimates that about 2025 million people worldwide will develop diabetes by 3.

In addition to the increase in blood sugar, diabetes will also affect blood lipid metabolism, if coupled with hypertension, will increase the incidence of cardiovascular disease several times, and various complications will appear early, such as nerve, kidney, retinopathy.

Studies published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology have mentioned that calcium or vitamin D deficiency can have a direct impact on insulin secretion, and large observations have found that daily intake of more calcium (more than 1200 mg per day) and vitamin D (more than 800 IU per day) can reduce the risk of type 33 diabetes by 2%.Note 10

10. Beneficial for weight management

Overweight is not only a significant change in appearance, but also a threat to life and health, with an estimated 2.3 billion people overweight and 0.7 billion overweight (defined as a body mass index (BMI) between 25.0 and 29.9 and overweight is more than 30kg/m2)

Overexpanded fat cells are like an inflammatory factory, secreting various inflammatory hormones (especially interleukin-6/IL-6), and triggering inflammatory responses, increasing the incidence of cardiovascular disease, hypertension, cancer, and diabetesNote 13

Over the past few decades, epidemiology has consistently found that a higher dietary intake of calcium, especially from dairy products, is associated with lower obesity rates

In a double-blind controlled study (32 obese people on a low-calorie diet), it was found that diets containing more calcium (whether from milk or calcium tablets) had a significant decrease in weight and body fat, with the only difference being that consuming more dairy products had better results (better than those taking calcium tablets).Note 11

A meta-analysis (33 studies, 4733 participants) showed that calcium intake did not significantly alter body weight compared with controls

However, after further consideration of age, sex, BMI, and length of supplementation, moderate calcium supplementation (from diet or supplementation) did help reduce weight (especially in normal-BMI, children, adolescents, adult men, and premenopausal women).Note 1

The mechanism behind it is related to the combination of calcium: fatty acids, which promotes fat excretion in feces, regulates intestinal flora, reduces fat accumulation and increases static energy expenditure.Note 2

Are there any side effects of calcium tablets?

Possible side effects of calcium supplementation include constipation, abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea, and excessive doses may cause nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, kidney damage, irregular heart rate, and polyuria (symptoms of hypercalcemia).

For the average person, the upper daily limit of calcium intake is 2500 mg (including food and additional sources), if it exceeds it may cause adverse reactions and even hinder the absorption of other minerals (such as zinc, magnesium, phosphorus, etc.).

Safety precautions

  • Do not use it in combination with antibiotics Ceftriaxone and Gentamicin, which may cause dangerous side effects
  • Do not combine with osteoporosis bisphosphonate, hypertension drugs (Beta-blockers or Calcium-channel blockers), cholesterol-lowering drugs (bile acid sequestrants), thyroid hormones, antibiotics (Quinolones, Tetracyclines), may interfere with the drug effect
  • Do not use it in combination with the psoriasis/psoriasis drug Calcipotriol, which may produce hypercalcemia
  • Williams-Beuren syndrome (gene defect disease) Do not take calcium tablets and vitamin D, hypercalcemia may occur
  • Taking too many calcium tablets during pregnancy may cause fetal abnormalities
  • Patients with hyperparathyroidism, sarcoidosis, renal failure, or cancer may be at risk for hypercalcemia and should be avoided or supplemented with caution
  • People who have had kidney stones should take calcium tablets with caution or discuss with a doctor, although kidney stones are not directly related to calcium supplementation
  • Certain antiepileptic drugs (Tegretol, Dilantin) may lower the body’s calcium concentration, so it is recommended that the two should be taken at intervals (at least 2 hours) to avoid possible conflicts of action
  • Do not mix with the cardiac drug digoxin (Digoxin), which may produce cardiotoxicity
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