Calcium is one of the most important minerals the body needs to have in adequate amounts daily. It helps to increase and maintain bone density, aids in the proper functioning of the central nervous system as well as other vital processes like blood coagulation and muscle contraction. Our bones retain 99% of the calcium absorbed in the body while 1% is mixed in the blood. Deficiency in calcium for extended periods can lead to various diseases one of the most common is osteoporosis, osteomalacia, and osteopenia.
Calcium side effects
The body requires 1000mg of calcium each day. However, people who are consuming as high as 2,500mg a day reported to have experienced no significant calcium side effects or presence of toxicity. Calcium side effects are minimal if excessive calcium is taken for a limited period although this risks the kidneys to work extra hard to eliminate the extra calcium from the body. However, calcium side effects could arise if too much calcium is present in the blood for longer periods.
One of the calcium side effects is the minimized absorption of other vitamins and minerals since calcium has been known to compete with these. Some patients reason that calcium causes constipation in them but this can be remedied by adding citrate either in the diet or as supplement. Another minor side effect of calcium (as calcium carbonate) is gastritis when calcium is taken in between meals. The reason could be that calcium carbonate is a known antacid component and when taken on an empty stomach reverses its function resulting in more acid production.
Very high doses of calcium can also lead to alkalosis. One of the calcium side effects is the formation of calcium oxalate, a type of kidney stone, when calcium is absorbed in timing when it binds with oxalates. Although calcium prevents osteoporosis, having too much of this mineral can also cause the said condition.
There seems to be a significant difference in calcium side effects when comparing dietary calcium and calcium supplements. Having too much calcium from supplements tend to result in more calcium side effects compared with those obtained from food sources. High levels of blood calcium could also be a result of hyperparathyroidism (abnormal secretion of the parathyroid hormone) or lead to hypercalcemia.
Other possible side effects are:
- Ischemic heart disease and stroke
- Cardiovascular disease
- Low stomach acid
- Muscle/Joint pains
- Cataracts and Glaucoma
- Higher risk for some cancers
- Dry Skin
If you think you are taking in too much calcium or calcium supplements, check with your doctor or nutritionist to see what may be best for you.