Calcium - Benefits and Deficiency
Calcium - Learn the importance of Calcium and the foods that contain high levels.
Calcium - Benefits and Deficiency
- Calcuium can indeed be called 'King of Minerals', at least as far as the human body is concerned. Of all the various mineral that are present naturally in the human body, the mineral calcium is by far, the most plentiful.
- Although calcium is present in the highest quantities amongst all minerals, it is not very evenly distributed in the body.
- Almost all the calcium in our bodies (as much as 99%) is found in our bones and teeth. The remaining 1% of calcium flows freely in the blood stream.
Calcium Sources: Are You Getting Enough?
As per the recommended dietary allowances (RDA), men and women between the ages of 19 and 50 should have a minimum intake of 1000mg everyday.
If you area above 50, your daily intake increases to a minimum of 1200mg.
But who do you need to take so much calcium when it is so abundant in the body already? Read on to know why......
The 6 Amazing Health Benefits Of Calcium
1) Healthy Bones: The majority of your body's calcium is not stored in the bones just for nothing; it is this calcium that helps to strengthen the bones. By taking the recommended doses of calcium daily, from whichever calcium sources, you can stop bone loss and thinning, thus preventing osteoporosis and other bone deficiencies.
2) Healthy Teeth: Calcium is instrumental in making, and keeping your teeth healthy. A defieciency at an early age can cause your teeth to fall out very early in life. Yellowing of the teeth can also be associated with a deficiency, thus it is important to supplement if you want to maintain those pearly whites.
3) Alleviates Back Pain: Calcium has proved to be very beneficial in reducing back pain as it strenghtens the bones and cartilages in the back.
4) Decreases High Blood Pressure: Even though only 1% of the total calcium is present in the bloodstream, it helps to lower high blood pressure considerably.
5) Eases Heartburn: Antacid tablets that contain calcium carbonate are the easiest remedy to reduce buring and uneasiness, which are both symptoms of heartburn.
6) Can't Sleep? Take Calcium: One of the many causes for insomnia is lack of calcium. Taking calcium can thus make you sleep like a baby, provided your insomnia is due to a calcium deficiency.
These are just the many useful health benefits that one can get from different calcium sources. The stores of calcium in our body are constantly utilized and absorbed for various functions, thus it is necessary to keep replenishing these stores.
Sources Of Calcium
Dairy products (milk, yogurt, cottage cheese, cheese) are the main sources of calcium. Individuals with lactose intolerance (people who cannot completely digest the milk sugar lactose) and those who are vegans tend to avoid or eliminate dairy products from their diet. We all know that it is important for vegetarians to meet calcium needs with alternative calcium sources.
Good vegan sources of calcium include tofu (if prepared from calcium sulphate), green leafy vegetables, dried figs, broccoli, seeds and nuts. Some soya milks, instant breakfast cereals are also fortified with calcium. Drinking water can provide as much as 200 mg of calcium daily, as hard water contains a rich source of calcium.
Although most grains are not high in calcium, they do contribute calcium to the diet because they are consumed regularly and frequently.
What Affects Calcium Absorption And Excretion From The Body?
Only 20-30% of calcium in the average diet is absorbed into the body, the rest gets excreted.
A high protein diet, especially based on animal foods, causes calcium loss in the body. The higher sulphur-to-calcium ratio of meat increases calcium excretion.
Calcium absorption can also be affected by the amount of calcium present in the body, amount of vitamin D presence (helps improve calcium absorption), age, pregnancy (intestinal calcium absorption increases during pregnancy), fibre content in diet etc. The amount of calcium consumed at one time such as in a meal is inversely related to the absorption rate.
Calcium excretion refers to the amount of calcium eliminated from the body through urine, feces and sweat. Calcium excretion is affected by factors such as amount of sodium, protein, caffeine and potassium in diet.
Calcium is lost in cooking some foods even under the best conditions. To retain calcium:
- Foods are best cooked in a minimal amout of water.
- Cook food for the shortest possible time.
What Does Calcium Defiency Lead To?
Osteoporosis: major cause of bone fractures in the elderly, especially women. Prevention includes an adequate intake of calcium throughout life, but especially in childhood and young adulthood; and reduce trigger factors such as smoking, heavy drinking and lack of physical exercise. Diets high in protein and salt also increase calcium loss from the body. Post-menopausal women are more prone because they produce less estrogen, which protects the skeleton in younger women..
Rickets is a childhood disorder involving softening and weaking of the bones. It is caused by lack of vitamin D, calcium, or phosphate. Deficiency of vitamin D leads to improper regulation of calcium and phosphate. Symptoms of rickets in children included delayed sitting, crawling, walking and the development of bowlegs.