Calcium: Role, Benefits, Deficiency, Sources, Daily Dose, Supplements

Calcium is the most abundant mineral in our body, representing up to 2% of body weight. We all know, since childhood, that adequate calcium intake helps us to have strong and healthy bones. In addition to this vital role, calcium also has other functions in the body, which makes its daily presence in our diet indispensable.

People feed on nutrients but call them food. It is essential to know what we are eating and not just to inflate our stomachs with foods that do not use us energetically.

Nutrients are divided into macronutrients – proteins, lipids, carbohydrates, and micronutrients – vitamins and minerals. We do not have to have medical studies to know what the foods we eat contain.

It is essential to think about health, not just the pleasure of taste. Nutrition means both nutrients and flavor. 

Balance is the key to proper nutrition adapted to each of us!

I started the series of articles about minerals with Magnesium, today I will continue with another essential mineral for the health of our body: Calcium

The role of calcium in the body

Calcium is the most abundant mineral in our body, representing up to 2% of body weight/

We all know, since childhood, that adequate calcium intake helps us to have strong and healthy bones.

In addition to this vital role, calcium also has other functions in the body, which makes its daily presence in our diet indispensable.

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11 benefits of calcium

Calcium plays an important role in the whole body. 

Although its weight is higher in the bones and teeth, it is found in many organs and systems in the body and contributes to their proper functioning.

Here are 11 of the most important benefits of calcium

1) It regulates blood pressure.

2) Due to calcium, muscles respond to commands given by the nerves.

3) It has an essential role in blood clotting,

4) It is a mineral responsible for activating some enzymes.

5) This mineral has a significant contribution to the absorption of nutrients in the body and their transport to organs.

6) It directly influences the increase or decrease of the level of some hormones such as the thyroid, being thus responsible for the normal functioning of the endocrine system.

7) Calcium can significantly influence the health of nails, skin, and hair, but also their appearance.

8) It has an important role in strengthening the immune system, making the body strong in the face of infections and able to heal.

9) It is essential for the health of teeth and bones, having a crucial supporting role for the skeletal structure.

10) Brain development and brain activity are calcium-dependent. The mineral also helps the central nervous system to function optimally.

11) Calcium also has an essential role in reducing the risk of several cancers, including colon, rectal, and prostate cancer.

Symptoms of calcium deficiency

Calcium deficiency, sometimes responsible for diseases such as osteoporosis, cataracts, and rickets, can be detected at the first signs.

The lack of this mineral is common among children, who may suffer a stagnation in bone development; therefore, calcium-based supplements are often recommended by pediatricians.

Among the most common symptoms of calcium deficiency are:

• Heart rhythm disorders and palpitations

• General fatigue

• Feeling numb

• Stiffness or involuntary muscle contractions (cramps)

• Occurrence of insomnia

• Intense and persistent headaches

• Menstrual disorders or menopausal disorders

• Memory loss and fainting

• Decreases effort capacity

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The best natural sources of calcium

The main dietary source of calcium is dairy products. They cover the need for this mineral in a proportion of 60-80%, under the conditions of a regular diet.

Other sources of calcium 

•      Chia seeds provide 50% of the recommended daily dose of calcium.

•      Sesame seeds

•      Hemp seeds

•      Pumpkin seeds

•      Sunflower seeds

•      White beans

•      Carrot

•      Peanuts

•      Brown rice

•      Dried figs and almonds are also important sources of calcium.

•      Sardines

•      Salmon

Dark green leafy vegetables such as:

•      Parsley

•      Spinach

•      Basil

•      Thyme

•      Dill

•      Arugula

•      Algae

•      Broccoli

•      Nettles

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What foods steal your calcium from your body

Coffee and alcohol prevent the assimilation of calcium in the body. Coffee has a diuretic effect and decreases calcium absorption, and alcohol abuse can lead to decreased intestinal calcium assimilation, inhibiting liver enzymes that contribute to vitamin D activation.

Carbonated beverages contain phosphates, which can upset the calcium balance. Calcium balance in the body is also sensitive to excessive meat protein intake. Increased protein intake can overload the liver and kidneys, leading to calcium depletion.

Also, high salt intake may promote renal calcium excretion. This also increases the risk of osteoporosis.

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Recommended daily dose of calcium

Because they are in the process of growing and developing the musculoskeletal system, children need more calcium than adults. Lack of this mineral can have severe consequences for the little ones, such as rickets.

Here is the recommended daily dose of calcium, depending on age:

• infants: 200-260 mg

• children between 1 and 3 years: 700 mg

• children between 4 and 8 years: 1000 mg

• children and adolescents between 9 and 18 years: 1,300 mg

• adults: 1,000 mg

• pregnant or breastfeeding women, menopausal women: 1,000-1,300 mg.

Calcium supplements: when and how to administer

Its recommended that dietary supplements be given as directed by a doctor or other health care professional if blood tests show that there is a calcium deficiency. In the case of supplements, it is the doctor who determines the dose administered.

• For babies up to 1 year of age, the dose of calcium does not exceed 270 mg/day.

• Adults will take around 1,000 mg/day.

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