Calcium is a necessary mineral for the human body. Additionally, it works with other minerals and vitamins to perform various functions of the human body.
Calcium Food Sources
According to various diets, calcium will occur naturally in some foods. Also, it can occur as a supplement for calcium deficiency patients. Mostly, in food sources, the mineral will be found in dairy fortified products which include milk, yogurt, and many among others.
In addition to that, other foods include:
- seaweeds, such as kelp, hijiki, and wakame
- nuts and seeds, including pistachio, sesame, almonds, and hazelnuts
- dandelion leaves
- many fortified breakfast kinds of cereal
Calcium Daily Requirments
Nutritionists have set a certain daily requirement amount for calcium both in foods and as supplements. Excessive intakes will develop some different negative alterations in the body and so will lower intakes.
The most referred to disease is calcium deficiency which will occur from low levels. Excessive calcium intakes will lead to chronic kidney disease.
The daily requirements are;
- 1-3 years: 700 milligrams (mg) per day
- 4-8 years: 1,000 mg per day
- 9-18 years: 1,300 mg per day
- 19-50 years: 1,000 mg per day
- breast-feeding or pregnant teenager: 1,000 mg per day, adult: 1,000 mg per day
- 51-70 years (male): 1,000 mg per day (female): 1,200 mg per day
- 71+ years: 1,200 mg per day
Calcium Health Benefits
The most important function of the mineral is for the formation of milk and bones. Large portions of the mineral found in the body are in bones and teeth. Therefore, calcium is a vital mineral for both teeth and bone formation.
Other health functions include:
It regulates muscle contraction, including the beating of the heart muscle. When a nerve stimulates a muscle, calcium is released; it helps the proteins in muscle carry out the work of contraction. The muscle only relaxes again once the mineral is pumped back out of the muscle.
Additionally, it affects the smooth muscle that surrounds blood vessels, causing it to relax.
The mineral plays a key role in normal blood coagulation (clotting). The process of clotting is complex with several steps; a host of chemicals are involved. Calcium plays a part in a number of these steps.
Calcium will work with other enzymes to improve the enzymatic function. Also, in the absence of the mineral, some enzymes will not work.
Vitamin D and Calcium
The sunlight vitamin(vitamin D) will help in the absorption of calcium to the bones and teeth. Even if you’re taking in enough foods with the mineral, it could be going to waste if you’re deficient in vitamin D.
Phosphorus and Calcium
The two minerals work hand in hand to develop strong bones and teeth. Increased phosphate levels can be dropped by taking calcium which will help in the absorption of the required amounts.
Hypocalcemia, commonly known as a calcium deficiency disease, occurs when the levels in the blood are low. A long-term deficiency can lead to dental changes, cataracts, alterations in the brain, and osteoporosis, which causes the bones to become brittle.
Continous untreated calcium deficiency will even lead to death.
Signs and Symptoms of Calcium Deficiency
- Muscle Problems– these are probably the earliest signs of calcium deficiency.
Most people tend to feel pain in the thighs and arms when walking and moving. Some sensations will indicate more severe deficiency e.g numbness and tingling in the hands, arms, feet, legs, and around the mouth.
- Extreme fatigue– low levels are associated with insomnia(sleepiness). More people experience an overall feeling of sluggishness, lack of energy among other fatigue experiences
- Nail and skin symptoms– Skin will tend to be dry and itchy. Also, some research has linked the mineral’s deficiency to psoriasis.
- Osteopenia and osteoporosis– as the mineral is necessary for the bones, the following symptoms.
Osteopenia- is when your bones are weaker than normal but not so far gone that they break easily.
Osteoporosis- which means porous bone, is a disease in which the density and quality of bone are reduced. As bones become more porous and fragile, the risk of fracture is greatly increased. The loss of bone occurs silently and progressively. Often there are no symptoms until the first fracture occurs.
- Painful premenstrual Syndrome– In 2019, authors of a systematic review trusted Source concluded that low levels of vitamin D and calcium during the second half of the menstrual cycle might contribute to symptoms of PMS. The team proposed using supplements to help relieve symptoms.
- Dental Problems– When the body lacks calcium, it pulls it from sources such as the teeth. This can lead to dental problems, including weak roots, irritated gums, brittle teeth, and tooth decay.
Also, calcium deficiency in infants can delay tooth formation.
- Depression– mood disorders will lead to an increased occurrence of depression. Calcium supplements are best offered to these patients
Side Effects of Calcium
As calcium has its benefits, also it has its side effects. Some side effects will result from excessive intake of calcium others just occur naturally.
In addition to chronic kidney, other side effects include:
Some patients report gastrointestinal symptoms, such as bloating, constipation, gas, or a combination of all three. Calcium citrate usually has fewer and less pronounced side effects than calcium carbonate.
Taking the supplements with food, or spreading their intake throughout the day sometimes helps reduce the occurrence or intensity of the side effects.
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