You’ve probably heard you that need lots of calcium in your diet to have strong bones and a healthy body. But do you know the risks of taking too much calcium?
You can actually overdose on this mineral, and there are side effects.
Your body needs calcium, but it’s important to take the right amount of this important mineral.
Hypercalcemia is the medical term for a high calcium (Ca2+) level in the blood serum. People with a mild increase that has developed slowly usually have no symptoms.
But in those with greater levels or rapid onset, symptoms may include abdominal pain, bone pain, confusion, depression, weakness, kidney stones, or an abnormal heart rhythm including cardiac arrest.
Most cases are due to primary hyperparathyroidism or cancer.
Too much calcium in your diet is typically not related to hypercalcemia, which is a serious medical condition. Excess dietary calcium can cause constipation, and may increase your risk of kidney stones.
Tips To Prevent Too Much Calcium
To make sure you do not get too much dietary calcium, know the daily requirements and consequences.
1. Daily calcium requirements. In order to understand why too much calcium is dangerous, be aware of how much calcium you need to take every day. The recommendations vary based on your age, gender, and health history.
- In general, children need 1,000 to 1,300 mg a day. Adults need 1,000 mg a day. However, women over the age of 70 need 1,200 mg a day.
2. Constipation. One of the most common side effects of taking too much calcium is constipation. This usually occurs if you take too many supplements that have high levels of calcium. It’s rare for you to get constipation from calcium in foods, but it can happen if you overeat.
3. Kidney stones. You can have a higher risk of kidney stones from taking too much calcium. Several studies have found that those who take excessive amounts of mineral supplements are more likely to have kidney stones.
4. Other health issues. By overdosing on calcium, you may notice several health issues at the same time. Some of the most common issues are nausea, weakness and the loss of appetite. You may also experience excessive thirst. You may have vomiting and feel unwell for a long period.
- High levels of calcium can affect iron absorption in your body.
- It’s also possible to have a more serious reaction from overdosing on calcium that includes an irregular heartbeat. You may also have mental confusion and high blood pressure. One of the biggest risks is a coma.
5. How to prevent issues. Most experts share that prevention is easier than solving the issues that arise from taking too much calcium.
- Be careful with the supplements you take and how many vitamins you take at the same time. If you combine multiple pills and minerals, then you can easily overdose on calcium.
- It’s important to discuss your calcium levels with a doctor. They can recommend diet changes and supplements that are safe.
6. Focus on food instead of pills. It may be tempting to reach for a bottle of calcium supplements instead of working on your diet. However, you’re putting yourself at risk and may not be helping your body.
- Nutritionists recommend that you focus on the food you eat instead of trying to supplement with pills. Calcium is readily available in multiple foods.
- You can find it in dairy products, but there are other options if you’re lactose intolerant or vegan.
- Calcium is in kale and broccoli. Many dark leafy vegetables have high levels of this mineral.
- It’s also in salmon and sardines.
- You can get more calcium by eating fortified foods such as cereals, breakfast bars, granola, and others.
- Many nuts also have this mineral.
Calcium is considered an essential mineral and has multiple health benefits. Although your body requires it, it’s important to ensure you’re not taking too much.
In most cases, you’ll get better results by eating calcium-rich foods instead of taking supplements, but discuss your particular needs with your doctor.
Thomas E., MD, JD Levy
Death By Calcium
Medfox Publishing; 2013 ISBN-13: 978-0615889603