Health Benefits of Calcium
Calcium is a chemical element that is essential for living organisms, including humans. It is the most abundant mineral in the body and vital for good health.
We need to consume a certain amount of calcium to build and maintain strong bones all throughout life and facilitates healthy communication between the brain and other parts of the body. It is also helpful in the prevention of colon cancer and the reduction of obesity. Calcium is found naturally in many foods; it is also added to certain products, and supplements are available.
Calcium is vital for bone health, it is essential for the development, growth and maintenance of bone. Around 99 percent of the calcium in the human body is found in the bones and teeth. Calcium continues strengthening the bones of humans until they reach the age of 20-25 when bone density is highest. After that age, bone density declines, but calcium continues to help maintain bones and slow down bone density loss, which is a natural part of the aging process.
People who do not consume enough calcium before the age of 20-25 have a considerably higher risk of developing brittle bone disease or osteoporosis later in life; this is because calcium is drawn from the bones as a reserve. A regular supply of calcium is very important for growing children and teanagers as it can prevent rickets early on and osteoporosis in old age. Osteoarthritis is a common ailment in one out of every three women and in one man in every 12, above age 50.
Calcium regulates muscle contraction, including the beating of the heart, sufficient calcium helps cardiac muscles contract and relax properly. When a nerve stimulates a muscle, calcium is released/ it helps the proteins in muscle carry out the work of contraction. The muscle relaxes after the calcium is pumped out of the muscle. (lactic-acid buildup) If there is a calcium drop, a hormone called calcitriol is released, contracting the smooth muscles of the arteries, and increasing blood pressure. Cardiac muscles need extracellular calcium ions for contraction. When the intracellular concentration of calcium increases, the ions gather together on the protein troponin. This stimulates the secretion of extracellular fluid and the intracellular stores, including that of the skeletal muscle, which is only activated by calcium stored in the sarcoplasmic reticulum.
A report in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition by Dr. Peters, Dr. McGlynn et al, states that an adequate amount of calcium prevents the overall risk of colon cancer. It surpresses the growth of polyps, which has the potential to lead to cancer. Calcium supplementation reduces the risk of adenomas as well as nonmalignant tumors of the colon.
Calcium efficiently helps maintain optimal body weight in men and women. The body will tend to release parathyroid hormone which in turn stimulates bones to release it into the bloodstream if there is any bodily mineral deficiencies. On the other hand, parathyroid hormone also stimulates the production fo fat and prevents its breakdown which subsequently causes obesity. Basically make sure you have the right daily intake of calcium.
Calcium plays a key role in normal blood clotting. The process of clotting is complex with a number of steps and a host of chemicals involved. Calcium plays a key part in a number of these steps.
Adequate amounts of calcium can lessen symptoms of premenstrual syndrome such as dizziness, mood swings, hypertension and others. Recent studies show that a high dietary intake of calcium helps maintain healthy pH levels and considerably reduces the risk of oxalate kidney stones and improves general health and vitality.
Calcium is a co-factor for many enzymes; meaning without the presence of calcium, enzymes cannot work as efficiently. Calcium helps transport nutrients across cell membranes.
Vitamin D helps the body absorb and retain calcium and is often added to calcium supplements because it encourages the synthesis of proteins in the body making the absorption of calcium possible.
Calcium supplements can produce side effects, such as bloating and gas, some dark green veggies contain high levels of oxalic acid which can reduce the body’s ability to absorb calcium
Many conditions, circumstances or illnesses contribute to calcium deficiency. Individuals who are lactose intolerant may not get enough calcium if they do not seek out non-dairy foods that are rich in calcium or have the mineral added.