Calcium is the most prominent mineral in the body. Ninety-nine percent of calcium is present in the bones and teeth. It is vital for the development of bone density and strength. For calcium to be absorbed efficiently, the body needs magnesium and vitamins D and K. According to MedlinePlus, some Americans consume less than half of the recommended calcium intake to maintain and develop strong bones. Stiff joints are often due to arthritis and muscle pain rather than bone damage; therefore, calcium is not effective in treating or preventing stiff joints.
Causes of Stiff Joints
Arthritis is an inflammation of joints. The swelling causes pain and stiffness in the joints that worsen with age and lack of treatment. Osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis are the two most common forms of the disease. MayoClinic.com describes osteoarthritis as a normal wear and tear of cartilage, and rheumatoid arthritis as an autoimmune disorder that attacks the body’s joints.
There is no cure for arthritis; however, several treatment options are available to ease the stiffness and increase joint functions. Consult a doctor for advice on the right treatment option. Medication for arthritis includes counterirritants, analgesics, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs. Lifestyle changes such as weight loss, exercise and a healthy diet will relieve pressure on the joints, which helps reduce joint stiffness and pain.
Calcium deficiency occurs when you consume an insufficient amount of calcium. People with malabsorption difficulties such as Crohn’s disease and celiac disease will not absorb an adequate amount of calcium. Calcium deficiency is a silent condition; it may go unnoticed until bones fracture or break. Calcium helps prevent a disease of the bones called osteoporosis. The disease makes bones weaker and easily fracture, and it is common in menopausal women. According to a report published in December 2007 in the “Current Osteoporosis Reports,” calcium combined with vitamin D has a positive effect on bone health in post-menopausal women.
Increase calcium in your diet to treat calcium deficiency and, when possible, get calcium from dietary sources rather than supplements. Rich sources of calcium are cheeses such as Parmesan, cheddar, Romano, American mozzarella and Gruyere. Other sources include milk, yogurt, kelp, broccoli and cabbage. Calcium is also available as a supplement. The two most common forms are calcium carbonate and calcium citrate, of which the latter is more expensive and easier to digest.
According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, you should take calcium at a maximum dose of 500 mg with 6 to 8 cups of water during the day. The center recommends a dose of 1,200 mg for adults 51 years and older, 1,000 mg for 19 to 50 years and 1,800 mg for colon cancer prevention. Do not take calcium supplements without a doctor’s consultation due to adverse reactions and drug interactions.
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Calcium
- MedlinePlus: Osteoporosis
- MedlinePlus: Calcium
- MedlinePlus: Joint Pain
- “Current Osteoporosis Reports”; The Role of Hormone Therapy and Calcium Plus Vitamin D for Reduction of Bone Loss and Risk for Fractures: Lessons Learned From the Women's Health Initiative; R.D Jackson, et al.; December 2007