As your dentist in Littleton, our team at McGinty Dental Group want patients to know that receiving enough calcium in your diet is necessary for maintaining a number of important health functions, including maintaining bone health and oral health, and to reduce the risk of obesity and colon cancer. While you might think of calcium as a mineral only needed to help kids grow up big and strong, calcium plays an important role later in life as our bones become weak, porous, and fragile. Despite the importance of calcium, most diets don’t contain enough to properly meet the individual daily requirement.
The amount of calcium the body needs depends greatly on an individual’s age. Newborns to 6 months require just 200 milligrams a day, while adolescents and teens between the ages of 9 to 18 need 1,300 milligrams a day. Adult men should continue to receive at least 1,000 milligrams of calcium a day until the age of 70 when the daily recommended amount climbs to 1,200 milligrams. Because women need more calcium than men later in life, the Institute of Medicine recommends women increase their calcium intake to 1,200 milligrams at age 50.
Fortunately, it’s fairly easy to get enough calcium into your daily diet. You can find ample supplies of calcium from dairy foods such as yogurt, milk, and cheese, and from vegetables like Chinese cabbage, kale, and broccoli. Some types of breakfast foods like cereals and orange juice are even fortified with calcium for an added punch.
You might be surprised at the number of foods that contain calcium that are already part of your daily diet. Once you make it a point to receive the daily recommended amount of calcium, you can expect to enjoy a number of health benefits research has linked to calcium consumption.
Better Oral Health
Your mouth contains naturally occurring bacteria that use the foods and drinks we consume to produce harmful substances that slowly erode away at the durable outer layer of our teeth known as enamel. Over time, enamel becomes weakened and cracks begin to form that allow bacteria to reach the delicate interior of a tooth. Once inside, bacteria can lead to the development of tooth decay, cavities, and gum disease.
Calcium can help improve your oral health by better fortifying teeth against oral bacteria. Calcium acts a remineralization agent for tooth enamel – meaning it helps to repair the damage caused by bacteria. So just like bones in the rest of your body, the more calcium you consume, the stronger and more resilient your teeth become.
Early research has found links that suggest individuals who receive enough calcium can better maintain their body weight when compared to individuals who don’t receive enough. A calcium deficiency in the blood also causes the release of the hormone parathyroid, which leaches the calcium from bones in order to balance the levels of calcium needed in the bloodstream. Studies have also found that individuals suffering from obesity have a higher risk of developing gum disease.
Improved Heart Health
In order for the muscles in the heart to properly relax and contract, the body needs to receive a sufficient amount calcium. The nerves that help maintain pressure in the arteries also requires calcium to properly function. When the body doesn’t possess enough calcium, it releases the hormone calcitriol that causes arterial muscles to contract, thereby increasing an individual’s blood pressure.