We all have been taught the importance of calcium since childhood. It is the mineral without which survival of human beings is not possible. Calcium is a mineral that plays an integral role in formation and maintenance of healthy bones and teeth. It provides the bones a comprehensive strength same as that of a concrete material.
Almost 99 percent of calcium is in the bones and teeth. The rest of it is found in blood, tissues and other organs. With this small one percent it is enough for the nerves to exchange messages, the blood to clot and the muscles to contract.
Lack of calcium has been linked to several degenerative diseases in the body. The mineral calcium is called the prime instigator of vital activity. In the following paragraph, let us find how important calcium is to human body.
Benefits Of Calcium For Strong Teeth And Bones
Calcium is the main mineral required for formation of healthy bones and teeth. Bone consists of protein mineralized with crystals of calcium phosphates, along with magnesium, sodium and fluoride. Of all these minerals, calcium is essential for maintaining the infrastructure of bones.
Human skeleton is a dynamic structure and it is made up of several bones.These bones undergo changes throughout the life. Calcium can seep out from the bones into the blood stream when it requires for other purposes or for maintaining optimum level in blood stream. Similarly calcium gets deposited in the bones.
This process goes on throughout life, although body is efficient in making the bone strong till the age of 30. After that bone density tends to decrease. As age advances the bones may become weak and porous. The condition is called osteoporosis. Especially women after their menopause develop mild to moderate osteoporosis, because of imbalance in their hormone level.
Osteoporotic bones tend to crack and fracture easily. Research suggests that proper intake of calcium before the age of 30 helps to prevent osteoporosis. Thus the bones are less likely to become so weak that they fracture easily.
Function Of Calcium In The Human Body
- Calcium is vital for muscles: Calcium is vital for muscle relaxation and contraction. Its deficiency is known to cause severe muscle spasm, a condition called Tetany. Extra calcium is often prescribed by the physicians when a woman is pregnant, especially when she complains of leg cramps. Calcium along with magnesium is often necessary to reduce menstrual cramps and symptoms accompanied with premenstrual syndrome. The proper involuntary contraction of heart muscle is possible because of calcium. Calcium is also required for clotting process of the blood.
- Calcium helps to prevent colon cancer: Studies suggest that people who get adequate amount of calcium in their diet are less likely to suffer from colon cancer than people who are taking less amount of calcium. One theory suggests that calcium binds cancer promoting bile acids produced in colon. It thus reduces irritation in the intestine.
- Calcium for fetal development: Besides cramps during pregnancy, calcium is also required for healthy development of fetus. It also promotes adequate lactation and secretion of breast milk. It may also reduce the chances of pregnancy induced hypertension.
- Calcium for nerve conduction: Calcium speeds up all healing processes and controls the conduction mechanism in nerve tissues so that messages travel fast enough for the functioning of the body.
Natural Dietary Sources Of Calcium
Eating a healthy and balanced diet is sufficient for normal men and women for their daily calcium need. In certain conditions such as pregnancy, developmental stage in children etc the requirement increases.
The recommended daily requirement of calcium is 600mg in adults, 1000mg to 1500mg in infants and children, 1500 to 2000mg during pregnancy and lactation.
- Milk and milk products are the major source of calcium. Drinking two glasses of milk will almost fulfill the daily requirement of calcium. Additionally other dairy products such as cheese, yogurt, and buttermilk also have enough amount of calcium.
- Greens: Turnip greens, mustard greens, broccoli, kale, Chinese cabbage, okra, cauliflower, carrots, fenugreek, radish all contain calcium together with other mineral and vitamins.
- In fruits the good source of calcium is oranges.
- Almonds and mustard seeds are good source of calcium.
- Fish such as salmon and sardines and dried fish are rich source of calcium from seafood.