Can you have too much of a good thing? Yes, says Dr. Mehmet Oz, who warned about calcium overload on his October 25 talk show. Learn about the pros and cons of calcium below and how to know if you're getting enough - or too much - in your daily diet.
First, the good news: Calcium provides you with benefits ranging from bone health to hormonal balance. If you're 19 years old or older, you need a minimum of 1,000 mg per day, according to the Institute of Medicine. And before you think "more is better," the Institute also has an upper limit of 2,000 mg.
Getting enough calcium is essential for your health. It not only promotes bone health, but it’s also needed for muscle contraction, blood vessel constriction and relaxation, hormone secretion, and nervous system function.
What happens if you don't get enough calcium? A condition called hypocalcemia, which results in symptoms ranging from muscle twitches to tingling. If your diet lacks sufficient calcium, the body takes it from your bones, which can boost your risk of osteoporosis. Some types of diets, such as plant-based plans, can make it particularly challenging to get enough calcium without supplementation.
But too much calcium, warns Dr. Oz, is harmful to your heart. He cites a recent study showing:
- Women who consumed lots of calcium through their diet and/or supplements had higher risks of developing cardiovascular disease or heart disease.
- Women who ate diets extremely high in calcium and also took supplements had even more risk of heart disease.
But what's the link between calcium and heart disease? If you have too much calcium, it gets deposited in your arteries in layers and gets hard. The result: Your heart must work harder to pump blood, resulting in cardiovascular disease.
Although too much calcium from supplements was not such a concern previously, we now live in an era where products such as cereal and orange juice boast on their labels "Fortified with Calcium" and candy-like calcium chews are sold in every grocery store. Therefore, it's important to recognize the risks of calcium overload, says Dr. Oz.
For natural sources of calcium to add to your diet rather than relying on supplements or fortified foods, try:
- Low-fat Greek yogurt: One 8-ounce cup has 415 mg of calcium.
- Collard greens: One cup has 350 mg of calcium.
- Canned salmon: One 3-ounce serving has 181 mg of calcium.
- White beans: A half-cup of beans contains 100 mg of calcium.