Calcium is required for development and maintenance of bones, teeth and nails. It helps to prevent the onset of osteoporosis and regulates blood clotting and muscle contraction. However, excessive intake of calcium can have an adverse effect on the body.
There are many people who take calcium supplements with the notion that it is good for bones. But before popping those supplements, it is important to note that taking too much calcium does not come without side effects. Calcium is necessary for growth and development of bones and to regulate nerve and muscle functions. The recommended daily calcium intake is 1,000 mg for adults and 1,200 mg for women over the age of 50. The best sources of calcium are dairy products. But those who are lactose intolerant can get their calcium from tofu, kale, mustard greens, almonds, beans, broccoli and fortified orange juice. But, keep in mind that taking excess calcium can cause certain side effects.
You need to remember that the body can take around 500 to 600 mg of calcium in a period of 6 to 8 hours; out of which only 30% is absorbed by the body. So, taking too much calcium is not going to do you any good. In fact, there might be some potential dangers of taking too much calcium. The side effects of taking excessive calcium are as follows.
One of the most common side effects of taking excessive calcium is constipation. Constipation for prolonged period of time can lead to stomach ulcers, pain and bloating. It is a good idea to take magnesium and vitamin D supplements to ensure that there is proper absorption of calcium.
One very embarrassing and annoying side effect of consuming excess calcium is the formation of gas or flatulence.
Taking excess calcium can cause gastrointestinal problems like nausea, vomiting and abdominal cramps.
Formation of Plaque
Too much calcium in the blood can lead to the accumulation of plaque in the arteries. This can exert a hypertensive effect on the heart muscle, which in turn increases the risk of stroke and heart attack.
Risk of Heart Disease
Some studies and clinical trials link excess intake of calcium supplements with increased risk of heart diseases. However, the results of such studies are not conclusive. To be on the safer side, it is best not to consume more calcium than the recommended daily dose.
If there is too much calcium in your blood, it might lead to a condition known as hypercalcemia. This condition which is characterized by vomiting, fatigue, loss of appetite and persistent thirst can negatively impact kidney functions. High levels of urinary calcium leads to the formation of kidney stones. People who are already suffering from kidney problems should consult their doctor before taking calcium supplements.
Risk of Prostate Cancer
Some studies have found a link between calcium intake of 600 mg per day, with an increased risk of prostate cancer. Although the research is far from conclusive, it is better to observe caution and limit the intake of calcium.
Too much calcium in the blood (over 2500 mg) may cause calcium toxicity. It can develop into abnormal deposits of calcium in tissues, which is harmful for the body.
Interactions with Medicines
Taking excess calcium can cause some adverse interactions with certain medications and so it is best to take the advice of a doctor before using calcium supplements. Excessive intake of calcium can increase the reaction to digoxin, a drug which is used for the treatment of irregular heartbeat. It can also interfere with the body’s ability to absorb certain antibiotics like ciprofloxacin, norfloxacin, tetracycline etc. Excess calcium intake may interfere with the absorption of alendronate, a medication which is used for the treatment of osteoporosis.
Other Side Effects
Dry mouth, confusion, severe fatigue, nausea, irregular heartbeat, metallic taste in mouth, loss of appetite and dizziness are some other side effects of taking too much calcium.
It is best to boost the intake of calcium through dietary sources. If you are taking calcium supplements, it is always advisable to consult a doctor for its proper dosage. Avoid self medication as excess calcium in your body might lead to many health complications.
Disclaimer: This article is for informative purposes only and does not in any way attempt to replace the advice offered by an expert on the subject.