Calcium plays an important role to build strong bones and teeth and helps to blood vessels contract and expand.
The most plentiful mineral found in the human body, calcium is essential for maintaining a healthy body. This mineral is evenly distributed and found in teeth, bones, body tissues, nerve cells, blood and other body fluids. It is one of the most important minerals for the human body. Calcium helps to form and maintain healthy teeth and bones. Proper levels of this mineral over a lifetime can help prevent osteoporosis.
Calcium helps our body with:
- Building strong bones and teeth
- Clotting blood
- Sending and receiving nerve signals
- Squeezing and relaxing muscles
- Releasing hormones and other chemicals
- Keeping a normal heartbeat
Calcium is used for treatment and prevention of low calcium levels and resulting bone conditions including osteoporosis (weak bones due to low bone density), rickets (a condition in children involving softening of the bones), and osteomalacia (a softening of bones involving pain). It is also used for premenstrual syndrome (PMS), leg cramps in pregnancy, high blood pressure in pregnancy (pre-eclampsia), and reducing the risk of colon and rectal cancers.
Some people use calcium for complications after intestinal bypass surgery, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, Lyme disease, to reduce high fluoride levels in children, and to reduce high lead levels.
Long-term calcium deficiency can increase your risk for developing osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is a disease that causes your bones to become brittle due to bone loss. With this disease, your bones fracture with little impact. Bone fractures, particularly in the spine or hip, are the most serious complication of osteoporosis. Hip fractures often result from a fall and can result in disability and even death from postoperative complications, especially in older adults. In some cases, spinal fractures can occur even if you haven’t fallen. The bones that make up your spine (vertebrae) can weaken to the point that they may crumple, which can result in back pain, lost height and a hunched forward posture. People with lactose intolerance do suffer from calcium deficiency as they are unable to absorb the lactose found in milk. Also, some medications may interfere in the way calcium is absorbed by the body.
Side effects of calcium
Calcium is safe for most people when taken by mouth or when given intravenously (by IV) and appropriately. This mineral can cause some minor side effects such as gas. When you intake high amounts of it, you run the risk of kidney stone formation.
Calcium rich foods
Although many foods contain calcium, dairy products are the best source of calcium foods. Milk and dairy products such as yogurt, cheeses and buttermilk contain a form of calcium which can be easily absorbed by your body. Green leafy vegetables such as broccoli, collards, kale, mustard greens, turnip greens, or Chinese cabbage are good sources of calcium. Some other sources of calcium foods that can help meet your body’s calcium needs are the following.
- Salmon and sardines canned with their soft bones
- Almonds, Brazil nuts, sunflower seeds, tahini, and dried beans
- Blackstrap molasses
Calcium is also added to several food products such as orange juice, soy milk, tofu, ready-to-eat cereals, and breads. These are a very good source of calcium for persons who do not eat a lot of dairy products or who are on a vegan diet. It is also found in many multivitamin-mineral supplements. The amount varies depending on the supplement. Dietary supplements may contain only calcium or calcium with other nutrients such as vitamin D. Vitamin D is also found in milk and it helps in the absorption of calcium.