Calcium: Health Benefits, Foods and Deficiencies
March 22, 2022 | by Yashaswi Pathakamuri | Posted in Nutrition Facts
Calcium is a nutrient that all living organisms need, including humans. It is a mineral that is found in the bones, teeth, and muscles. It helps in the process of bone growth and development.
Calcium has many functions in the body. It is necessary for a healthy diet because it helps to build strong bones and teeth. Calcium is also important for cardiovascular health because it regulates blood pressure. It also prevents osteoporosis and cancer of the bones and teeth. Calcium also plays a role in temperature regulation.
Calcium is also important for blood clotting, muscle contraction and nerve transmission. It is found in food items like milk, cheese, and yogurt.
Recommended Dietary Allowance
The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) of calcium:
- 0–6 months: 200 milligrams (mg)
- 7–12 months: 260 mg
- 1–3 years: 700 mg
- 4–8 years: 1,000 mg
- 9–18 years: 1,300 mg
- 19–50 years: 1,000 mg
- 51–70 years: 1,000 mg for males and 1,200 mg for females
- 71 years and above: 1,200 mg
Pregnant and breastfeeding women require 1,000–1,300 mg depending on age.
A doctor may recommend additional calcium for people who:
- Follow a vegan diet
- Have started menopause
- Stop menstruating due to anorexia nervosa or excessive exercise
- Have lactose intolerance or a cow’s milk allergy
Why is calcium needed?
Calcium is needed for healthy bones and teeth. It is also needed for many other functions in the body like muscle contraction and nerve conduction.
Calcium is found in most foods that are rich in protein, such as dairy products, fish, poultry, and eggs. It can also be found in vegetables like spinach and kale, as well as fortified foods like orange juice or cereal.
Calcium is an essential mineral that is needed for a number of vital functions. It helps in the development of bones and teeth, strengthens the muscles, and keeps the heart healthy. Calcium is also needed for nerve transmission, muscle contraction, and blood clotting.
Calcium plays various roles in the body. These include the following:
1. Cardiovascular system
Calcium plays a key role in blood clotting. It helps improve cardiovascular disease. This complex process has different steps that involve many separate chemicals, which include calcium
Calcium’s role in muscle function includes maintaining the action of the heart muscle. Calcium relaxes the smooth muscle that surrounds blood vessels. Various studies have indicated a possible link between high consumption of calcium and lower blood pressure.
Vitamin D is also essential for bone health, and it helps the body absorb calcium. It has shown to reduce the risk of certain cancers such as colon cancer, breast cancer, lung cancer and prostate cancer.
2. Muscle contraction
Calcium helps regulate muscle contraction by providing a source of energy to muscles. When a nerve stimulates a muscle, the body releases calcium in order to activate the proteins that control contraction. When the body pumps the calcium out of the muscle, the muscle will relax.
3. Bone health
Around 99% of the calcium in the human body is in the bones and teeth. Calcium is essential for the development, growth, and maintenance of bone.
As children grow, calcium contributes to the development of their bones. After a person stops growing, calcium continues to help maintain the bones and slow down bone density loss, which is a natural part of the aging process.
Females who have already experienced menopause can lose bone density at a higher rate than males or younger people. They have a higher risk of developing osteoporosis, and a doctor may recommend calcium supplements.
4. Kidney Stones
At one time, experts recommended that people with kidney stones limit their calcium intake to prevent kidney stones from forming. However, research has found that restricting your sodium intake may have the opposite effect by making your kidneys shed excess calcium from the body, which creates a high risk of developing kidney stones.
Research from large trials including the Women’s Health Initiative and the Nurses’ Health Study found that a high intake of calcium foods decreased the risk for kidney stones in women. However, the same effect was not true with supplements, as calcium in pill form was found to increase risk.
5. Other roles
Calcium is a co-factor for many enzymes. Without calcium, some key enzymes cannot work efficiently.
Studies have also suggested that consuming enough calcium can result in:
- Improved cholesterol values.
- A lower risk of colorectal adenomas, a type of non-cancerous tumor.
- A lower risk of developing conditions involving high blood pressure during pregnancy.
- Lower blood pressure in young people.
- Lower blood pressure in those whose mothers who consumed enough calcium during pregnancy.
People can obtain calcium from a range of foods and drinks. The following are good sources:
- Fortified dairy alternatives, such as soy milk
- Sardines and salmon
- Green leafy vegetables, such as broccoli, turnip leaves, watercress, and kale
- Fortified breakfast cereals
- Fortified fruit juices
- Nuts and seeds, especially almonds, sesame, and chia
- legumes and grains
- Cornmeal and corn tortillas
Some dark green vegetables, such as spinach, contain calcium. However, they also contain high levels of oxalic acid. According to studies oxalic acid reduces the body’s ability to absorb calcium.
Calcium is also a large mineral that can block the absorption of other minerals like iron and zinc. Too much calcium in the blood is called hypercalcemia
Symptoms of hypercalcemia:
- Weakness, fatigue
- Nausea, vomiting
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain
- Heart palpitations, irregular heart rate
The following conditions or lifestyle habits may result in low calcium levels, also known as hypocalcemia:
- Bulimia, anorexia, and some other eating disorders.
- Mercury exposure
- Overconsumption of magnesium
- Prolonged use of some medicines, such as chemotherapy or corticosteroids
- Chelation therapy used for metal exposure
- Lack of parathyroid hormone
- High consumption of caffeine, soda, or alcohol
- Some surgical procedures, including removing the stomach
- Kidney failure
- Vitamin D deficiency
- Phosphate deficiency
- Long-term use of laxatives
- People who eat a lot of protein or sodium may excrete calcium.
- Some conditions, such as celiac disease, inflammatory bowel disease, Crohn’s disease, and some other digestive diseases
The body eliminates some calcium in sweat, urine, and feces. Foods and activities that encourage these functions may reduce the levels of calcium in the body.
Calcium is an important nutrient that helps in the building of strong bones and teeth. It also plays a role in muscle contraction, muscle relaxation and nerve conduction.
Calcium is a mineral that is essential for the body to function properly. It helps maintain bone health and plays a role in muscle contraction and nerve impulse transmission.
Calcium is an ionic compound of calcium ions and hydroxyapatite (Ca10(PO4)6(OH)2). The Ca2+ ions are bound to the central Ca10(PO4)6(OH)2 tetrahedral core. Calcium ions are found in all living organisms, where they play a major role in many metabolic processes.
Calcium is found in most foods, but it’s also available as supplements. The recommended daily intake of calcium varies by age, gender, and other factors.
Calcium deficiency can lead to osteoporosis, while excess calcium can lead to kidney stones or hypercalcemia.
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