Columnist Nozaina: Calcium is the most abundant mineral in the body that all living organisms need. It is associated with healthy teeth and bones. About 99% of the body’s calcium is present in the teeth and bones. Human needs calcium to maintain and build strong bones. Calcium is naturally present in many foods. Many food
Columnist Nozaina: Calcium is the most abundant mineral in the body that all living organisms need. It is associated with healthy teeth and bones. About 99% of the body’s calcium is present in the teeth and bones. Human needs calcium to maintain and build strong bones. Calcium is naturally present in many foods. Many food manufacturers add calcium to their products. It also plays a significant role in cardiovascular function, and muscle movement, and also maintains communication between the brain and other body parts. Vitamin D is also very important. It helps in the absorption of calcium. Sunlight, fish oil, and fortified dairy products are the main sources of vitamin D.
RDA (Recommended Dietary Allowance) of Calcium
0-6 months: 200 milligrams
7-12 months: 260 milligrams
1-3 years: 700 milligrams
4-8 years: 1,000 milligrams
9-18 years: 1,300 milligrams
19-50 years: 1,000 milligrams
51-70 years: 1,200 milligrams for females and 1,000 milligrams for males
71 years and above: 1,200 milligrams
Milk, yogurt, sardine, salmon, cheese, tofu, green leafy vegetables, nuts, seeds (sesame, chia), grains, legumes, and corn meal are the natural sources of calcium. Numerous seeds are a good source of calcium, as a tablespoon of sesame seeds contains 87.8 mg while poppy seeds contain 126.5 mg of calcium. Yogurt is one of the best sources of calcium and also a good source of protein and other nutrients. 1 cup of yogurt contains 448 mg of calcium. Milk is an excellent source of calcium; 1 cup of cow milk provides 309 mg of calcium. A 6-ounce serving of fresh salmon contains 340 mg of calcium.
Calcium plays the following roles in the body. It helps to regulate muscle contraction. Body release
calcium when a nerve stimulates a muscle. Calcium helps the muscle protein to carry out the work of contraction. The muscles relax when the body pumps the calcium out of the muscles. Calcium is important for the maintenance, growth, and development of bones. During the growth of the child, calcium contributes to the bones’ development. When a person’s growth stops, then calcium slows down bone density loss and maintains the bones. Females are at great risk of osteoporosis (a bone disease that develops when bone mass and bone mineral density decrease) than males. It lowers the risk of high blood pressure during pregnancy. Calcium helps in blood clotting. It maintains the action of heart muscles and relaxes the smooth muscles that surround blood vessels.
Calcium deficiency leads to many health issues. The calcium level of blood is strongly regulated. If the diet does not provide enough calcium, then bone release calcium into the blood. One of the most serious calcium deficiencies is called Hypocalcemia. Hypocalcemia occurs due to kidney failure, gastric bypass, and the use of some medicines like diuretics that interfere with calcium absorption. Poor appetite, muscle cramps, abnormal heartbeat, and numbness or tingling in fingers are the symptoms of hypocalcemia. A gradual calcium deficiency usually occurs in those people who are not getting enough calcium through diet or calcium is not absorbed in the body. An early stage of bone loss is Osteopenia. If osteopenia is left untreated osteoporosis follows.
In osteoporosis bone become extremely fragile and brittle, even a slight stretch or fall can cause a fracture. This condition is common among women. Osteoporosis fractures most commonly occur in the spine, wrist, and hip bone, and may occur in other bones like an arm. In the early stages, no symptom occurs, but once it develops you may notice some symptoms like brittle nails, receding gums, bone injuries, a stooped posture, and weakened grip strength. Some factors like long-term steroid use, genetics, low BMI level, having an eating disorder (bulimia or anorexia), long-term use of medications (anti-estrogen), age factor, sedentary lifestyle, underlying conditions like hormonal conditions and inflammatory conditions can majorly increase the risk of osteoporosis.
An irregular heartbeat is a symptom of calcium deficiency. It can be life-threatening if severe. The heart is a muscle; calcium deficiency disturbs the heart rate. If heart cells do not get enough calcium, they stop working as they should. Hypocalcemia can initiate seizures. Brain cells need
optimum calcium levels to release neurotransmitters. Hypocalcemia can over-excite the brain which triggers seizures. Calcium deficiency can impair cognitive functions. Memory loss, confusion, and disorientation can be symptoms of hypocalcemia because brain and nerve cells depend on calcium. Calcium entry in the nerve cells stimulates the release of neurotransmitters.
Hypocalcemia cause gum disease and tooth decay. Carbonated beverages, unhealthy food, and mouth bacteria can damage minerals in teeth. Adequate calcium intake is needed to prevent mineral loss. Calcium or vitamin D deficiency can cause rickets in children. Rickets is the weakening and softening of bones in children. Calcium deficiency prevents the proper mineralization of bones, and due to this bones become soft and weak. Deformities of bones are also possible. In developing countries, rickets is not common.
Higher than normal level of calcium in the blood is called hypercalcemia. The upper limit of calcium from supplements and food is 2,500 mg daily. People above 50 years should not take more than 2,000 mg daily. High calcium intake can increase the risk of kidney stones, constipation, and
prostate cancer. Some researchers revealed that in certain people, calcium accumulates in blood vessels and causes heart problems. Calcium can block the absorption of some minerals (zinc and iron). Vomiting, nausea, chest pain, fatigue, weakness, heart palpitation, and irregular heartbeat are the symptoms of hypercalcemia.
We can prevent calcium deficiency and its symptoms by following some guidelines.
Drink plenty of water
Cautiousness to avoid fall
Maintain healthy body weight
Consuming 600-800 IU of vitamin D daily
Taking care of gums and teeth by regular brushing
A healthy diet with plenty of lean protein, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, and fruits
Along with calcium, we should take food rich in phosphorus & vitamin C. Phosphorus is essential for strong teeth. Vitamin C promotes gum health. Enough intake of calcium prevents bone density
loss. We should try to get calcium and other nutrients from our diet rather than supplements. If it is necessary to take supplements, then it is recommended to take supplements under a physician’s prescription or advice.