Compared to any other mineral, calcium is found aplenty in the human body to help perform certain important functions such as secretion of the enzymes and hormones, assisting the blood vessels and the muscles to expand and contract and promoting a healthy nervous system.
What Is Calcium
Calcium, a copious mineral comprising of 2% the total body weight of a human adult has several important functions. 99% of the body’s calcium is located in the bones and teeth while the remaining 1% is dispersed in the rest of the body.
Dietary Sources Of Calcium
The richest calcium food sources are varieties of cheese that include feta, mozzarella, parmesan and cheddar. Low calorie Dairy like yogurt milk and tofu. Other sources include Brazil nuts, almonds and hazelnuts, dark green leafy vegetables like broccoli, spinach, kale, collard, Swiss chard, dandelion, cabbage, romaine lettuce, green beans, Brussels sprouts and mustard.
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Seafood sources include salmon, sardines and oysters, with beverages like orange juice and soymilk, pulses such as black-eyed peas and green peas, herbs like Basil, thyme, dill seed, oregano and cinnamon.
Benefits Of Calcium
Calcium promotes bone health. Apart from strengthening the backbone and preventing pain, it also prevent osteoporosis and arthritis. Therefore, throughout childhood and adolescence it is imperative to consume adequate calcium, along with vitamins D and K2 and magnesium.
Adequate intake of calcium reduces and prevents premenstrual blues. These symptoms are mainly due to low calcium levels that release hormones causing hypertension, mood swings, dizziness, depression, bloating, food cravings and irritability.
Healthy Gums And Teeth
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Taking a diet rich in calcium helps maintain healthy teeth. Calcium keeps jawbone strong thus preventing the teeth from weakening bacterial infection, bleeding and inflammation.
A diet rich in calcium along with fruits and veggies reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and hypertension. They help cardiac muscles to contract and relax effectively thereby maintaining proper pressure in the arteries.
The crystallized deposits of minerals and calcium in the urinary tract result in the formation of Kidney Stones. Recent researchers thwarted the belief that, dietary calcium cause kidney stones. However, they reduce the risk of kidney stones significantly. Instead high oxalate consumption from leafy green vegetables like spinach and kale besides insufficient fluid consumption lead to formation of kidney stones.
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Research suggests that Calcium efficiently helps in prevention and maintenance of ideal body weight by helping to burn more fats and accumulating less of them.
Sufficient calcium intake alleviates risk of colon cancer and adenomas, a non-malignant tumour in the colon, which is a predecessor to colon cancer. However, this study has not yet proved conclusive.
A low fat diet combined with sufficient intake of Calcium helps maintain healthy cholesterol levels.
Calcium taken in combination with vitamins C and D helps prevent fluoride poisoning in children.
Rickets causes softening and weakening of the bone in children. Initially it was believed that they were caused due to a deficiency in Vitamin D. However, in the year 2000, studies proved that an effective treatment for rickets were none other than calcium supplements.
Women who consumed more calcium had less chances of developing a stroke.
The daily requirement for children up to one year is 1000 milligram. From the age of one to eight years of age, the RDA is 2500. For children belonging to the age group of nine to eighteen the daily requirement is 3000 milligram.
The RDA of Calcium from nineteen to fifty years is 2500 milligram. For people who are fifty plus, it is 2000 milligram.
Pregnant And Nursing Mothers
For pregnant and nursing women younger than 18 years the RDA is 3000 milligram, while for women older than 18 years the requirement is 2500 milligram.
Deficiency Symptoms Of Calcium
Lack of calcium in the body, or an inability to absorb calcium often results in muscle cramping, muscle irritation, and eye twitching. Besides this, Calcium deficiency also contributes to muscle weakness, headaches, coarse hair
brittle nails, scaly skin, convulsions, cataracts dementia, depression and jaw pain.
With long-term calcium deficiency, the bones become brittle and break easily, leading to osteoporosis. A deficiency of calcium can result in early periodontal disease and tooth loss.
Deficiency Of Calcium
The Dietary calcium deficiency symptoms result in muscles spasm, twitches, aches, thinning and weakening of the bones, with tingling and numbness in the arms and legs. Calcium deficiency also affects the teeth. The teeth may be defective in babies with this deficiency. If teeth start yellowing, for adults more calcium is required in the diet. Osteoporosis, a condition, where the bones become porous and fragile, due to fast withdrawal of calcium from the bones and other areas, much faster than deposited.
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Calcium deficiency may lead to menstrual cramps, irregular menstruation, excessive bleeding and anaemia. A diet rich in calcium may alleviate these symptoms. Moderate cases of calcium deficiency may lead to slow pulse rates, joint pains, cardiac arrhythmias, heart palpitations, increased cholesterol, and hypertensive levels. Pale skin and listless appearance with a tendency to get tired easily is another deficiency symptom.
Insomnia is another deficiency. Persistent Kidney stones are also symptoms of calcium deficiency. Tetany caused due to low calcium levels known as hypocalcemia is characterized by muscle cramps, spasms or tremors. Major symptoms of calcium deficiency cause skeletal abnormalities like Osteopenia, osteomalacia, osteoporosis and rickets .
Lack of adequate intake of calcium during pregnancy has often been associated with premature births. Low calcium amounts are also associated with cancers of the breast and colon.
Overdose Of Calcium
Increased calcium intake, of more than 3000 milligram a day, causes hypocalcaemia, a condition with high calcium levels. High calcium levels (hypercalcemia) combined with low phosphorus levels in blood may lead to soft tissue calcification, which incorporate unwanted calcium build up in cells instead of bone.
Excess calcium prevents absorption of iron from food causing anaemia and zinc deficiencies. Excessive doses of calcium may lead to constipation and stomach upsets combined with nausea, vomiting and appetite loss. Due to enhanced nerve and muscle functions, increased levels of calcium cause arrhythmias and confusion.
High levels may also cause increased urination and kidney damage. High quantity can lead to kidney stones, when the excess levels are deposited in the kidney. People with kidney problems, cancer and hypothyroidism may avoid calcium supplements due to an increased risk of excessive calcium. These problems are aggravated when calcium is taken in combination with Vitamin D. A few studies suggest that there are chances of developing cancer in the prostate with increased levels of calcium.
Biphosphates, medication used for treating osteoporosis have a tendency to impede the bodys absorption of calcium. Therefore, it is advisable to take calcium a couple of hours earlier or later than taking this medication.
Antacids containing aluminium
Calcium citrate taken with aluminium-containing antacids, may increase the absorption of aluminium significantly in the blood. This is particularly the case with people suffering from kidney disorders as the aluminium levels could become toxic.
Medications for blood pressure
Certain medications used for treating hypertension, have possibilities of interfering with calcium. Although these studies have not yet been proved, it would however be better if calcium supplements were taken under medical care.
Colesevelam, colestipol and cholestyramine, used for treating elevated cholesterol levels , have a tendency to interfere with calcium absorption, leading to calcium loss during urination. Nevertheless, the doctor may recommend taking calcium along with vitamin D supplements.
Intake of corticosteroids over prolonged periods may require supplements in calcium form.
Digoxin, a medication for treating heart arrhythmias, along with high calcium doses may elevate risk of toxicity, while low levels may prevent the medication from being effective. Therefore, it is crucial to monitor calcium levels periodically while taking this medication.
Thiazide diuretics like chlorothiazide (Diuril), metolozone (Zaroxolyn)hydrochlorothiazide, polythiazide (Renese) ghlorthalidone (Hygroton) and indapamide (Lozol) increase the Calcium quantities in the blood. Diuretics like bumetanide (Bumex) and furosemide (Lasix) cut down levels of calcium.
Amiloride (Midamor), help reduce the quantity of calcium leakage through urine, thereby raising the quantity of calcium in the blood for people suffering from renal stones.
Estrogen, in general increases blood calcium levels. When taken with calcium supplements help improve bone mass.
Gentamicin, an antibiotic, may perhaps raise lethal renal consequences.
Medications used for seizures, have possibilities of calcium decreasing within the body. Therefore, taking vitamin D in combination with medications for seizures is often recommended. Besides, these medications when taken along with calcium should be taken within a gap of two hours as they interfere with each other’s absorption.