Do Calcium Supplements Help You Grow Taller?
Calcium is a critical nutrient for bone structure. If a child doesn't get a minimum amount of calcium, it will directly affect final adult height. On the other hand, if a child takes in more calcium than recommended, this does not cause the child to grow taller than he would with a regular diet. High levels of calcium do appear to help boys grow faster, if not taller. There is no indication that this is the case for girls.
Calcium and Height in Adulthood
For adults, calcium is essential to help maintain height. It is natural for men and women to get shorter with age, but calcium supplements or increased calcium intake can preserve skeletal structure. Women are more at risk than men. Men should intake 1,200 mg of calcium daily after age 70. Women should reach 1,200 mg of Calcium daily after age 50. Vitamin D is also critical for bone health. While the body produces vitamin D in response to exposure to sunlight, consider vitamin D supplementation after age fifty.
Calcium and Osteoporosis
Osteoporosis is a dangerous and life-threatening condition in which the bones get weaker as a result of impaired calcium absorption. As we get older, our bodies aren't able to store adequate calcium in the bones due to leeching. Osteoporosis is more widespread and has an earlier onset in women because men start out with larger and stronger bones. Also, testosterone and estrogen both promote bone health.
Women produce significantly less estrogen after menopause, increasing the risk of osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is a silent killer because there are often no signs of trouble until a bone fractures or breaks. This is particularly threatening with hip fractures, which have a high mortality rate.
Calcium and Kidney Stones
While very high levels of calcium intake can increase the risk of kidney stones, this painful condition is usually the result of not getting enough calcium in your diet. When the body is not getting enough calcium, it will leech calcium from the bones, which can form stones of calcium oxalate. Three factors associated with kidney stones are excess caffeine, too much salt, and not enough water. If you drink lots of water and limit salt and caffeine intake, your risk of kidney stones plummets.
Calcium Overdose Risk
While calcium supplements can be beneficial to men and women at risk of calcium deficiency, it's important to be careful not to take too much calcium. There is evidence that hypercalcemia is associated with an increased risk of prostate cancer and heart disease. Of course, if you don't get enough calcium, your chance of osteoporosis increases dramatically.
How Much Calcium?
Men and women should aim for 1,000-1,200 mg of calcium per day while making sure to limit calcium intake to less than 2,000 mg to reduce the risk of complications. If you opt for calcium supplements, just be wary not to overdose. Good sources of calcium include dairy, fish with bones, beans, peas, nuts, and dark leafy greens. Many foods are fortified with extra calcium.
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