A study published in the Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness reported about the deficient calcium intake in bodybuilders. The men only met 54% of their USRDA for calcium, and the women, only 60%.
You'll often hear bodybuilders being meticulous about their protein intake. They also tend to avoid fats like the plague. But are they as exacting about their calcium intake? How many times have you heard a bodybuilder fuss about calcium consumption? It's most likely to be never. Calcium, by far, always tops the list of the most ignored mineral amongst the lot.
A calcium deficiency only comes to the fore with symptoms like aching joints, muscle aches and cramps, rheumatoid arthritis, tooth decay, and brittle nails. Most of these, unfortunately, tend to be ignored, escalating your health troubles.
For a bodybuilder, it is extremely essential to know the significance of calcium in maintaining bone health, and overall well-being. But first, here are the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) figures for men and women.
Recommended Calcium Intake for Adults
|19 - 50 years||1000 mg - 2500 mg|
|51 - 70 years||1000 mg - 2000 mg|
|71 and older||1200 mg - 2000 mg|
|19 - 50 years||1000 mg - 2500 mg|
|51 and older||1200 mg - 2000 mg|
Calcium and Bodybuilding
As steadfast as they are about their protein intake, bodybuilders often seem to forgo minerals by undermining their importance. As a result, the consequences of doing so come as a rude shock.
Calcium is the most abundant mineral found in our entire body. It regulates the heartbeat and helps in keeping blood pressure steady. It is also facilitates blood clotting, maintenance and formation of bones and teeth, and the conduction of electrical impulses in the nervous system.
A major share of the calcium present in our bodies is stored in the bones and teeth. The rest is usually found in blood, muscles, and other bodily tissues and fluid. In case your meals lack adequate amounts of calcium, the body will source the mineral out of your bones, weakening them in the long run. As a consequence, you may become susceptible to osteoporosis, which is the loss of bone mass. Since bones continually undergo repair throughout your lifetime, adequate calcium intake is necessary, irrespective of your age. Female bodybuilders, in particular, need to carefully monitor their dietary calcium intake, since low levels of estrogen can decrease calcium absorption and supplement its loss.
Calcium plays the vital role of aiding muscle contraction and relaxation. It enters into the muscle cell due to nerve stimulation and biochemical processes in motion. These processes cause the proteins myosin and actin to be drawn together, which contract the muscle cells by making them shorter and thicker. Clearly, the importance of this mineral cannot be stressed enough, especially in the case of bodybuilders.
Why Do Bodybuilders Give Calcium a Miss?
Which is the most commonly found source of calcium? Dairy products, of course, and one understands why bodybuilders tend to suffer from calcium deficiency. Most dairy products are seen as fattening, which is the reason their consumption is avoided or kept to a minimum.
The fear that dairy products are fattening is unfounded. Non-fat versions of yogurt, cottage cheese, sliced cheese, cream cheese, and sour cream are widely available, and are versatile enough to be used in every meal. Besides dairy, green leafy vegetables are another excellent source of calcium. Garbanzo beans, broccoli, fortified tofu, almonds, etc., are also rich in calcium.
While you take efforts to build your calcium intake, do not forget to up your consumption of Vitamin D, which is essential in facilitating the absorption of calcium in the body.
Disclaimer: This article is for informative purposes only and does not in any way attempt to replace the advice offered by a dietitian or nutritionist.