Saturday, July 7, 2012

The Importance of Calcium for the Human Body

The mineral calcium is the most abundantly found mineral in the human body. And we all know that along with phosphorous and Vitamin D, it is essential for strong teeth and bones. The average adult human body will contain as much as one kilogram of this mineral. Almost all of it is in the bones and teeth. Some amount of it is used by the body to ensure proper muscle contraction, blood clotting, and maintaining neurotransmission.

There exist many sources of dietary calcium and supplements can be easily purchased as over the counter medication; however, these should be taken under medical guidance. Milk and milk products are amongst the best known natural sources of calcium. However, there are many people who are lactose intolerant. Fortunately, for such people there is choice from leafy greens; nuts such as almonds, hazelnuts, etc; seaweed; blackstrap molasses; and fish whose bones can be consumed easily. It is also possible to obtain it from fortified products such as juices and breads.

The most commonly used calcium supplement is calcium carbonate. This supplement should ideally be taken with food. It is cheap and contains a good amount of elemental calcium. It may be a good idea to take vitamin D supplements to improve calcium absorption by the body. Calcium supplements can also contain calcium citrate, calcium lactate, and calcium phosphate. Calcium citrate is expensive and does not contain as much elemental calcium as calcium carbonate.

An excess of calcium levels in the blood signifies a condition known as hypercalcemia. The condition can be caused by an increase in the amount of calcium intake and insufficient calcium excretion by the kidneys. Another reason is when the bones start leeching calcium into the blood. High calcium blood values should be brought under control as early as possible in order to avoid complications such as kidney stones, abdominal pain, polyuria, and even psychiatric disorders.

Hypocalcemia, on the other hand, indicates low levels of calcium in the blood. This condition is a symptom of parathyroid hormone deficiency.

As mentioned earlier, calcium intake is essential for bone health and maintaining bone density. Low levels of calcium in the body can lead to osteoporosis. Bone loss is a serious issue that senior citizens and post-menopausal women face. A regimen of proper diet and exercise is essential to keep bones strong. People with osteoporosis are at greater risk of bone fractures, particularly of the wrist and hip.