We’ve all heard a lot about calcium and for good reason, calcium is one of the main chemicals that our bodies need to function properly. It is required to develop and maintain bone and dental strength from infancy until old age. Preventing weak bones and reducing the risk of fractures in our twilight years requires an adequate consumption of calcium.
The general health benefits of calcium are:
- Calcium supports healthy bone growth and is crucial for maintaining bone strength throughout life. It is especially important for young adults as they grow. Adequate calcium also prevents bone loss during the natural aging process.
- Calcium is necessary for women as it dictates how hormones like estrogen react with other necessary hormones. A lack of calcium may cause a negative reaction and lead to PMS symptoms.
- Cardiac protection is improved when there are appropriate amounts of calcium present. Calcium helps cardiac muscles stretch and relax comfortably. It also dictates the pressure levels in the arteries.
- Calcium may also help prevent depression, kidney stones, colon cancer, blood pressure issues and more.
Overall, calcium is one of the most important nutrients and a deficiency could lead to major problems.
When someone is deficient in calcium, they may show signs of these common symptoms:
- Memory loss
- Muscle spasms
- Weak nails
- Numbness in the hands, arms and fingers
Severe cases of deficiency could result in neurological changes and chronic symptoms.
What Vegans and Vegetarians Need to Know about Calcium
Vegans and vegetarians can fulfill their calcium requirements through a variety of nut-based milks like soy and almond milk, as well as a wide range of plant-based foods such as calcium-rich tofu, soy beans, broccoli, collard greens and other vegetables. For decades, the media, government, and powerful dairy industry lobbyists have perpetuated the myth that dairy milk is THE best source of calcium. We now know that this is in no way true. In most cases, a good serving of one of the plant-based natural foods mentioned above, such as tofu, contains more calcium than an entire cup of dairy milk. Some research has even shown that vegetarians often consume higher levels of calcium compared to non-vegetarians.
The most common treatment for a calcium deficiency is supplementation. Visiting a nutritionist could help you better understand what supplements to take and for how long. Those looking to go vegan have nothing to worry about when it comes to calcium intake, a balanced, whole-foods plant-based diet can provide all the calcium that one needs.
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