Role of calcium - Merits
- By Team TDO
What does calcium do?
Calcium, a mineral, is found generously in your body. The realistic fact is that over 99% of calcium is stored in your bones and teeth making them hard and strong. The rest 1% of it is present in nerve cells, body tissues, blood, and other body fluids. Calcium is valuable for normal function of your body. Apart from building and maintaining resilient bones and teeth, calcium also helps your body with positive functions like:
- Normal blood clotting
- Contraction and expansion of blood vessels
- Contraction and relaxation of muscles
- Transmission of nerve signals
- Normal function of digestive enzymes
- Secretion of hormones through glands
- Maintaining a normal heartbeat
Calcium is the building block of your bones and teeth
Your bones carry the bulk of calcium. Your bones are dynamic in nature and constantly undergo remodeling through the lifetime. Remodeling is a process where the existing bones are broken down through a process called “bone resorption,” while simultaneously, new bones are built to replace the bones that are resorbed. The process of building new bones is much faster than resorption in the age 12-30 years. As you age (40 years or more), your body does not build the amount of bones it breaks down. This leads to loss of calcium. Hence, it becomes a prime reason to make sure you consume a fair amount of calcium required to maintain healthy bones.
Likewise, teeth are also calcified tissues that begin to form in the first few months of fetal life. Adequate intake of calcium is required for proper development of tooth framework and to prevent dental caries.
Inadequate calcium intake may result in rapid bone loss and low bone density in later life leaving you with brittle bones, a condition called osteoporosis.
Sources of calcium
Food is an excellent source of calcium
- Dairy products are rich in calcium. Intake of milk, yoghurt, cheddar cheese, buttermilk and tofu may give you considerable amount of absorbable calcium. Be it skimmed, low-fat, or whole milk, a cup provides you with 300 mg of calcium.
- Certain vegetables like broccoli, kale, collards, mustard greens, turnip greens, and Chinese cabbage (when eaten raw or slightly steamed), sell you favourable amounts of calcium.
- Other sources are canned salmon and sardines along with their soft bones, almonds, ready-to-eat foods like soy milk, cereals, pasta, bread, juices that are fortified with calcium.
- However, you must know that some foods like wheat bran and spinach prevent absorption of calcium.
Dietary calcium supplements
Calcium supplements are needed for those who cannot reach the daily calcium demands through food. The two most commonly used supplements are calcium citrate and calcium carbonate. Calcium citrate is absorbed fully even when taken in empty stomach, but calcium carbonate needs to be taken with food to enable better absorption. You should always take no more than 500 mg at a time since calcium is most absorbed at that level.
How much calcium should be taken everyday
Too much calcium is also harmful
The total daily calcium intake should be no more than 2500 mg in adults aged 19-50 years, while it should not outpace 2000 mg/day in adults over 50 years of age. Exceeding calcium levels may risk you to kidney stones, prostate cancer, constipation, and calcium build-up in blood vessels.