Calcium has a lot of health benefits. These include its contribution to the maintenance of healthy bones and teeth, prevention of colorectal cancer, and obesity.
Calcium is an essential mineral needed by the body. Infants need this to ensure proper formation and growth of bones and teeth. Adolescents, on the other hand, need this to support rapid bone growth and development.
As a person ages, bone matter inevitably weakens and becomes more porous. This is why it is important to ensure sufficient intake to effectively combat the effects of aging on the bones.
Approximately 2 percent of the total body weight of a human adult is composed of this inportant mineral. Most of it is found deposited in the bones and teeth. Trace amounts of this mineral are also found in the blood, which acts to prevent the incidences of life-threatening blood loss and hemorrhages.
A Rising Diet Problem
With the emergence of diet fads left and right, the adequate consumption of calcium-rich foods sometimes is ignored. Often, many diet fads suggest people to stay away from foods that inherently contains this precious mineral. Avoiding such foods lead to the deficiency of certain vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients. In the case of people who restrict their diet from dairy, they risk themselves of becoming deficient of it.
According to some reports, there is a steady rise in this mineral deficiency, especially among women who choose to go through low-calorie diets to lose weight. As an adverse effect, some of these women are at risk for osteoporosis.
Osteoporosis is prevalent in the older population. About 30 to 35 percent of every woman and 8 to 10 percent of every man beyond the age of 50 are affected by this disorder.
Deficiency Signs and Symptoms
Recognizing calcium deficiency can be challenging since its signs and symptoms are similar to having abnormally high amounts of calcium as well.
Most common signs would include muscle twitching, muscle aches, sudden spasms, and cramps. Other symptoms would include hypertension, heart palpitations, osteoporosis, shaking and loss of teeth, and gingivitis and other gum diseases. Furthermore, other indications such as the inability to sleep or insomnia, menstrual cramps, tetany, and arthritis are present.
Some children may suffer from rickets which is a condition where the bones become extremely weak. Children with rickets would also manifest with bow leggedness, beaded ribs, and sunken chests. Usually, these children with rickets have received tiny amounts of calcium ever since they were born.
This only speaks of how important this nutrient is to our health regardless of life stages.
Popular sources of dietary calcium include milk and other dairy products such as yogurt and cheese. Also, it is derived from other foods such as nuts, seeds, as well as canned salmon.
Most people believe that milk is the richest dietary calcium source. In reality, however, broccoli contains higher levels of calcium compared to most dairy products. In general, all cruciferous vegetables contains this important mineral in them.
Here are some of the health benefits of what a healthy dose of this mineral does to the body:
Improves Bone Strength
Calcium strengthens the bones, particularly the spine to ensure the right shape and posture of the body. This mineral also makes sure that bones maintain their proper shape and density, to prevent musculoskeletal problems. These include bone-related conditions like osteoporosis and arthritis which causes severe pain and limit a person’s physical mobility.
Safeguards the Heart Muscles
Calcium protects the muscles of the heart. When its levels are within the normal range, the cardiac muscles effectively relax and contract. Additionally, it also maintains the proper arterial pressure in the nervous system.
As a Protection from Colorectal Cancer
Sufficient amounts of calcium prevents the development of colon cancer by suppressing the growth of polyps in the intestinal tract. A healthy supplementation of this mineral decreases the risk of adenoma. These are non-cancerous growths commonplace in the epithelial layer of the walls of the intestines. Although not cancerous at this stage, it might eventually develop into cancerous tumors.
When the body absorbs all the calcium it needs, the excess amounts of the mineral is stored in the intestines. As the unabsorbed nutrient moves towards the colon, it attracts tumor promoters to bind with it, and eventually, these cells are excreted out of the body.
According to research, both food supplements and natural food sources and calcium supply the body with this protection. For food supplements, it is better to take them in liquid form since they are easier to absorb compared to tablets.
Prevents Premenstrual Symptoms and Mood Swings
When you consume sufficient amounts of calcium, your body keep you from suffering some premenstrual symptoms such as hypertension, mood swings, and dizziness at bay.
On the other hand, low levels of it in the body stimulates the release of hormones that trigger irritability, depression, and mood swings.
Inhibits the Formation of Kidney Stones
Crystallized calcium and other minerals are what makes up kidney stones in the urinary tract. The most common type of kidney stones is oxalate stones.
In the past, people believed that excessive intake and increased absorption are the culprits for the development of kidney stones. But recent studies show the contrary. The high dietary consumption of calcium significantly decreases the formation of kidney stones.
In other words, dietary calcium does not cause kidney stones but excessive levels of calcium in drinking water do.
Another reason why people develop kidney stones is because of high oxalate consumption as paired with poor fluid intake.
Maintains Healthy pH levels
Consumption of too much sugar, preserved foods, and junk foods make the body highly acidic. When the body is acidic (low pH levels), many serious diseases such as hypertension, cancer, and kidney stones develop.
Calcium helps achieve optimum pH balance in the body, thus, improving the person’s overall vigor and health condition.
Ensures Healthy Blood Pressure
According to some studies, a vegetarian diet that is rich in fiber, calcium, potassium, and magnesium resolve hypertension and maintain healthy blood pressure levels. As such, consuming calcium, together with fruits and vegetables, effectively resolve hypertension and maintain healthy blood pressure levels.
Promotes Healthy Gums and Teeth
The mineral calcium protects a person’s bones and teeth. Young children should especially consume higher levels of calcium since their bones and teeth are still developing. High calcium intake among the young population will ensure that they grow up with strong and healthy teeth.
Therefore, it is important always to have sufficient calcium in your diet to prevent future problems with your teeth and gums.
Efficiently Transports Nutrients
Calcium contributes to the smooth movement of nutrients across the membranes of the cells.
Even though calcium is an essential mineral, many people tend to overlook its importance. Some children refuse to take milk until it no longer is part of their regular diet. However, parents should be cautious about this. They need to be aware that insufficient intake of calcium eventually lead to serious diseases.
Calcium is an essential component in all healthy food regimen. If your diet beliefs ask you to stay away from milk and other dairy products, make sure that you get your calcium from other sources.
If you just find milk and dairy not to your taste, tweak your meals a little to accommodate these in your daily intake. For instance, you can combine milk with cereals and fruits, if you do not like drinking milk on its own.
Also, consider supplementing with calcium. Food supplements which contains this mineral are available in most health stores. However, before supplementing, consult with your physician or pharmacist first. This is to ensure that what you are doing will cause no harm to your health.