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Wednesday, April 13, 2011

What You Need to Know About Calcium

Calcium is considered as one of the most essential elements in the diet because of its structural use in the composition of teeth bones and soft tissues in the body. Whether it is used for strengthening the bones or enhancing the blood clotting process, the human body needs calcium to efficiently operate. As a matter of fact, if you do not get the right amounts of calcium in your diet, the body reacts by taking in calcium from the bones to maintain normal blood calcium levels. A prolonged calcium deficiency may lead to bone fragility and later on worsen into osteoporosis.

The recommended daily allowance for calcium in adults is around 700 to 800 mg every day. Experts believe that adults above the age of 50 must take in around 1,500 mg calcium daily for the prevention of osteoporosis, a pathologic condition where the bones become brittle due to lesser bone density.

How is calcium utilized in the body?
Around 99% of calcium is stored in the body's bones and teeth. Calcium plays a big role in giving strength and mass to your bones. The remaining 1% is distributed into the bloodstream and performs several essential functions. Calcium is needed by the central nervous system. Calcium ions are vital in transforming electrical impulses into chemical signals within the brain. Calcium plays a significant role in the blood clotting process thus preventing drastic bleeding episodes.

Calcium is also an essential mineral for the muscular system. The muscles in the body depend on calcium to connect nerve impulses among nerve fibers and muscle tissues. A lack of calcium in the body may cause your muscles to twitch or even worse, your heart muscles stop beating.

Calcium in your Everyday Diet
Calcium can be found in three food classes: milk & dairy products, fish & shellfish, and green leafy vegetables. Dairy products such as whole milk, cheese and yogurt are excellent sources of calcium. Other than these milk products, there are also non-dairy sources that will help you achieve the daily average calcium requirements in the body. The soft bones found in tinned salmon, sardines and pilchards are good sources of calcium. Soy bean products such as tofu are also good alternatives. Other non-dairy calcium sources include green vegetables (broccoli, okra, turnip greens, spinach & etc.), nuts, sesame seeds and dried fruits.

Calcium Supplements: Do they work?
Nowadays, you can also find plenty of calcium supplements in the market. These calcium supplements are usually prescribed by doctors in the treatment and prevention of osteoporosis. Many specialists recommend taking calcium tablets after meals because of its acid reducing effects in the stomach. Supplemental calcium should only be used upon your doctor's approval. Excessive calcium levels in the body may result to constipation, excessive gas and bloating. Calcium supplements should not be taken by people suffering from diseases such as hyperthyroidism and chronic kidney disease.

Source: Charmaine Ann Enerio, RN

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