Strong bones and teeth are associated with food sources that contain a high calcium level. Underlying conditions can often be affected by an overconsumption of this mineral.
Hypercalcemia can be caused by many different factors including severe dehydration, cancer, overactive parathyroid glands and overconsumption of vitamin D.
A diet high in calcium rich foods can often lead to a diagnosis of hypercalcaemia. We know that calcium is important for maintaining bone health and supporting the functions of the cardiovascular system. But too much calcium can lead to long term health complications.
If you feel your blood calcium levels are high, this article will be worth the read. Read on to find out what foods to avoid when calcium is high.
The most obvious food group that should be avoided is dairy. Products such as cow’s milk, cheese and yogurt all contain high levels of calcium. Today, there are many non-dairy alternatives that are helpful when trying to cut the real stuff out of your diet. Dairy products are also notoriously high in vitamin D – which can contribute to calcium-related illnesses as it enhances calcium absorption.
This one might put a smile on your face! Green vegetables such as spinach, kale and broccoli contain high levels of calcium that should be avoided if trying to cut down on your intake of calcium.
Avoiding greens doesn’t mean you should avoid vegetables altogether however. Swapping your spinach for a portion of garden peas means you are still consuming some goodness minus the calcium.
Canned salmon and sardines are an example of fish that are high in calcium and vitamin D. This can also be said for cod and shrimp. Consuming too much vitamin D can lead to hypercalcaemia. So cutting down on foods containing vitamin D is also recommended when trying to keep calcium levels low.
Pinto, soya and kidney beans contain high levels of calcium. Half a can of cooked soybeans can have as much as 131 mg of calcium. According to Dr Walter Willett, chair of the Department of Health at Harvard University, the recommended daily amount of calcium for adults should be around 500mg.
It might be time to ditch the breakfast favorites if you are trying to lower your calcium levels. Not only is the calcium content high in the cereal itself, it is also in the milk poured over it. Other examples of food that has been fortified with calcium and vitamin D are orange juice, breads, oatmeal and frozen waffles.
Other Foods To Avoid When Calcium Is High
A vast majority of food products contain calcium. If you are trying to cut down, always read the back of the label. According to one report, the recommended daily amount of calcium is around 1000mg for adults under the age of 50 and 1200mg for those above. However, other reports (as discussed above) argue that this may be too much. Here is a list of more products that contain calcium.
- Chia seeds
- Brussel sprouts
- Collard greens
What Is Hypercalcemia?
Hypercalcaemia is the result of increased levels of calcium in the blood. It usually occurs as a result of overactive parathyroid glands which are located in the neck. The glands can become overactive from overconsumption of calcium and vitamin D (particularly vitamin D and calcium supplements).
However, hypercalcaemia can be caused by breast cancer, liver cancer and other medical disorders. Kidney stones may also develop from an increased level of calcium.
Symptoms of Hypercalcemia
The symptoms of hypercalcemia can range from mild to severe and include:
- Severe dehydration
- Stomach upset
- Pain in the bones
- Chronic fatigue
- Palpitations and feeling faint (only in severe cases
Symptoms do not always present themselves, so you may not know you have it. It is important to consult your doctor if you feel you may have a calcium-related illness as soon as possible.
Kidney Stones and Calcium
Contrary to belief, a high calcium intake is not the reason behind the formation of kidney stones. While the stones themselves are mostly made up of calcium, kidney stones are the result of many factors.
Dehydration, a diet high in salt and excess body weight are the most popular contributors when it comes to the development of kidney stones.
Symptoms of kidney stones
Kidney stones are painful and cause so much discomfort because they become lodged in the ureters which blocks the flow of urine causing the kidney to swell. Symptoms may include:
- Sharp pain located in the side and the back below ribs
- Discoloured urine (brown or red)
- Burning sensation when urinating
- Intense waves of pain in the lower abdomen and groin
If anything, lowering your calcium intake can cause more harm than good when it comes to kidney stones. The most common type of stones are known as calcium oxalate.
Usually, calcium and oxalate bind together in the gut. But when calcium levels are low, this leads to higher levels of oxalate in the urine which leads to the development of stones.
Lifestyle Changes That Might Help
Many illnesses can be eliminated through changing certain aspects of your lifestyle. A healthier lifestyle can be achieved through a complete diet overhaul. This should include cutting out foods that are high in salt, sugar and fat. Taking up jogging or joining a gym to get rid of excess weight and quitting smoking are all excellent ways to change your lifestyle.
While we can’t say this will help lower your calcium levels, it will have a positive effect on organ function which is the most important thing.
Foods that are high in calcium should be avoided if you are trying to lower your calcium levels for health reasons. Many foods rich in calcium may also include increased levels of vitamin D which contributes to calcium absorption.
If you feel you may be suffering based on a high intake of calcium, consult a professional for medical advice. We hope you have found this article has been useful, and always remember to read the packaging if you are unsure.