Discover the Role of Calcium in the Body
While calcium is known as the principal currency of bone and teeth in the human body, it has a number of other important roles and functions. Calcium is the most abundantly found mineral in the body and is essential for overall health and nutrition.
As a matter of fact, about 2% of your body’s overall weight is just calcium. So, what are the different roles that calcium plays in the body? Let us have a look.
The most important role of calcium is to improve and maintain the health of your bones and teeth. Around 99% of the calcium in the human body is used for this purpose. The remaining 1% also plays an active role in a host of bodily functions such as blood clotting, cell signalling, nerve function, and muscle contraction.
Cells also make use of calcium for activating some enzymes, communicate with other cells, and transporting ions through the cellular membrane. Moreover, it is also important for maintaining a normal heartbeat.
As calcium is so important for the bones, consuming it in the recommended quantities is one of the best ways to prevent conditions such as osteoporosis (a condition that occurs due to the loss of bone). Generally caused by the lack of calcium or vitamin D, osteoporosis makes your bones fragile and brittle.
Some studies also suggest that calcium can minimize the risk of some types of cancer such as colorectal cancer, a type of cancer which starts in the colon or rectum which are located at the lower end of the digestive tract. People suffering from high blood pressure are often prescribed calcium supplements as they work as channel blockers to reduce systolic blood pressure.
Some studies also suggest that consuming foods that are rich in calcium can reduce your chances of being overweight. However, this continues to be a widely debated topic within the scientific community.
Side-Effects of Excess Calcium
Consuming a higher amount of calcium than the recommended daily limit for a short duration is generally not known to result in any side effects. But if a higher amount of calcium is consumed over a long duration, it could result in conditions such as kidney stones and constipation.
Excess calcium can also result in a condition known as Hypercalcemia, an electrolyte imbalance which is caused due to high content of calcium in blood.
Children, Teens, and Calcium
Due to the critical roles that calcium plays in our health, it is recommended that men and women should consume around 1,000 mg of this mineral every day. The importance of calcium is even more when it comes to kids and teens since the majority of bone development takes place before the age of 25.
So, in a way, by consuming healthy amounts of calcium every day, kids and teens can lay the foundation for a stronger skeletal system. Kids between the age of 4 and 8 are recommended to consume at least 1,000 mg of calcium per day. For kids and teens between 9 and 18, the recommended calcium consumption is 1,300 mg per day.
Moreover, it is also important to consume vitamin D along with calcium as your body needs vitamin D to absorb calcium from food sources.
Dairy Products for Calcium
One of the best sources of calcium is dairy products, including milk, cheese, and yogurt. 1 cup of whole cow’s milk can contain as much as 300 mg of calcium. Parents can also consider options such as milk fortified with calcium and vitamin D as it contains a higher amount of vitamins and minerals to help you ensure that your child receives the recommended dosage on a daily basis.
Apart from dairy products, some of the other sources of calcium are as follows:
3. Lentils and beans
4. Spinach and Kale
Parents should also encourage kids to be more physically active with a focus on bone-strengthening activities such as running, playground activities, dancing, skipping, and hiking. All of these are weight-bearing activities that are known to strengthen bones and aid their development.
Calcium for a Healthy and Strong Body
As you can see, there are several important functions of calcium in the human body apart from the bone and teeth health. This also means that it is one of the most important minerals for a human body irrespective of the age. However, as the bones are still developing during the childhood and teen years, the importance of calcium is very high during this period.