When people think of calcium, the first thing that generally pops into their head is its ability to aid in strengthen bones. They think about grocery items such as milk, cheese, and yogurt, and don’t give much thought to the supplementation aspect of calcium. While all of this is accurate, there are actually more benefits that not many people are aware of that can help you reach your health and fitness goals. For that reason, it’s important to take a deeper dive into this useful ingredient.
Why should you consider calcium?
First and foremost, the most common benefit we think of in regards to calcium is its ability to help prevent osteoporosis, increase bone density, and improve overall bone health and strength. Strong bones provide stability and a solid foundation for all of our everyday movements – including exercise.
Calcium not only can improve the health of your bones, but when you supplement with this ingredient it can help release certain hormones (such as insulin) in the body, send nerve signals from the muscle to the brain (to aid in muscle contractions), and regulate vasoconstriction and dilation of blood vessels.
Those who don’t consume a diet high in calcium should definitely consider adding a calcium supplement to their regimen. But, even those who take in calcium from their diet can still benefit from adding it to their daily supplementation. In fact, if you are looking to manage your body fat levels and improve your weight, taking a calcium supplement can help. Additionally, calcium has the ability to improve glucose metabolism and lipid concentrations.
Due to the stress put on the body from intense bouts of exercise, we tend to create stress (such as free radical damage) at the cellular level that can go undetected until it creates a larger problem (like illness or disease). Supplementing with calcium can help combat oxidative stress while decreasing inflammation that can cause health issues. Additionally, and something that should be of interest, is that supplementing with calcium can also aid in enhancing lean muscle mass.
Another way to help improve your ability to put on lean muscle is by getting the proper amount of sleep – specifically REM sleep. Your body rebuilds and repairs torn down muscle fibers while you rest. The better quality the rest, the better the opportunity the body has to build muscle through hypertrophy (a solid nutrition plan is also necessary).
Calcium is a natural sleep aid and plays a role in sleep cycles. When an individual is deficient in calcium, they can find themselves having issues sleeping – both in duration and quality. When calcium is present, it allows the brain to utilize tryptophan (an amino acid) which can then produce melatonin naturally (versus through a melatonin supplement which can cause a hangover effect the following day) to promote sleep. By optimizing calcium levels, you can fall asleep easier and stay asleep for longer – giving you a better quality night’s sleep while allowing your body to properly recover from grueling training sessions.