Calcium is a mineral considered to be a true all-rounder: it relieves PMS, strengthens bones, and can prevent cancer. Find out more things you need to know about calcium and why it becomes so important to women as they approach menopause.
After age 51, a woman’s need for calcium increases by one-fifth.
Many women suffer from premenstrual syndrome (PMS) before their period: irritability, mood swings, water retention or insomnia. Now there is finally the help needed to combat it: Doctors discovered that the symptoms are related to calcium levels. The lower the calcium levels, the stronger the symptoms of PMS .
Calcium activates nerve cells
The brain also needs calcium. If we have too little in our blood, we will become nervous, fearful, or explode at the slightest provocation. Women who are exposed to a double burden through family and work need a lot of calcium. Because stress hormones are among the worst calcium predators.
The risk of osteoporosis increases with menopause
The calcium is particularly important for bone metabolism . In healthy bones, new bone tissue is constantly building up and old is breaking down. Both processes are balanced. This balance is disturbed during menopause: bone loss increases because of a lack of estrogen.
The hormone promotes the absorption of calcium in the bones. If this support is lacking, the body will need more calcium. Otherwise there will be osteoporosis, which mainly affects women. According to the latest information, 7.8 million women are affected in Germany, and the trend is increasing. Now the World Health Organization has put osteoporosis on the list of the top ten diseases. Because decreased bone mass increases the risk of fractures, which can have life-threatening consequences.
Prevention makes bones stronger
Optimal osteoporosis prophylaxis is based on three pillars: nutrition, exercise, and calcium. The basic rules for a diet to strengthen bones: lots of milk, whole grains, fruits and green vegetables. For calcium into the bones really, you need vitamin D . In most cases, diet alone is not enough to provide enough calcium (1200 mg / day).
In the adult population, vitamin D deficiency is one of the main factors leading to an increased risk of fractures due to reduced mechanical strength of the skeleton and increased number of falls.
Borgis – Postępy Nauk Medycznych
Calcium and vitamin D
Together, vitamin D and calcium are involved in many processes in the body, from building bones to regulating cell function . Therefore, a calcium deficiency can also result from a vitamin D deficiency .
Vitamin D and calcium share the activity of enzymes that control the balance between cell division, cell maturation and differentiation, and apoptosis.
Vitamin D plays an extremely important role in the release of calcium from the mitochondria. However, vitamin D works properly only when calcium levels in the blood are sufficient. Research has shown that these ingredients only together can fully develop their effects.
Women should take care of calcium before men
In women, from 51 years of age, the need for calcium increases by 200 mg per day to 1200 mg per day, in relation to the requirement in the ages of 19 to 50 years, while in men this requirement does not increase until after 66 years of age, that is, up to 15 years later.
This is related to the deterioration of calcium absorption with age, as well as to the dynamic changes that take place in the female body in relation to menopause (as a result, among others, the loss of bone mass increases rapidly).
Therefore, in women of this age, it is recommended to increase calcium intake with the diet, so that the body is saturated with this ingredient before its greatest loss, and that additional servings of products rich in calcium compensate over time. “Leak” of calcium released from the bones.
So what exactly and in what quantity should women over 51 years of age, but also other people struggling with calcium deficiency, add to their current diet ?
Dietary sources of calcium
- A source of calcium that is well absorbed is milk and its products (cheese, yogurt)
- Fish also contains significant amounts of this nutrient [ 1 ].
- Some plant products, especially green leafy vegetables (kale, parsley leaves, spinach, dried bean seeds) also contain large amounts of calcium [ 2 ]
- Tofu and nuts are also good sources [ 3 , 4 , 5 ]
- Less calcium is found in grains and meat [ 6 ]
Factors that increase calcium absorption
- Vitamin D,
- milk phosphopeptides,
- some amino acids
Test your calcium levels
The most common test is total serum calcium levels and can be judged on the basis of several measurements:
- Calcium bound to proteins, mainly albumin (about 40%).
- Calcium complexed with phosphate and citrate (about 10%).
- Ionized calcium, also known as free or active calcium (about 50%).
Recommended calcium doses
Recommended daily allowance of calcium: 1000-1300 mg
Calcium is better absorbed by the body and less frequently causes renal calcification with concomitant vitamin D intake [ 7 ].
Final Calcium Considerations for Menopausal and Later Women
Calcium plays a role in many basic bodily functions. Especially the cells of the bones, the heart and the brain need it to function properly. In addition, it is essential for blood circulation, muscle function, and intercellular signaling. Its balance in the body and its correct use are very important. Otherwise, excess calcium can be harmful.