What is Calcium?
Calcium is the most abundant mineral in the human body. Almost all the calcium is stored in our teeth and bones. The remaining small portion of calcium circulates in our blood and is important for the maintenance of our metabolism.
Sources of Calcium:
Sufficient vitamin D or sun exposure is needed to promote the absorption of calcium from food; taking calcium supplements can also improve calcium levels in our body. Good dietary sources of calcium include dairy, mussels, oysters, firm tofu, nuts and dark green leafy vegetables.
Why is Calcium important?
Calcium is important to keep our bones and teeth healthy and strong. It also contributes to heart health, as well as good functioning of our nerves and muscles. Calcium plays an important role in regulating our muscle contraction, as calcium is used each time your muscle fibre contracts. Deficiency in calcium may affect sports performance due to muscle cramping and fatigue.
Adults can absorb between 10-60% of the calcium from food. Women during menopause, people older than 65 years, people who are on a high protein diet and those who consume large amounts of caffeine or alcohol can experience higher loss of calcium. Calcium deficiency can also be caused by the use of laxatives or steroid medication.
Symptoms of calcium deficiency include:
- Osteoporosis (brittle, easily broken bones)
- Muscle cramping
- Tiredness and fatigue
- Coarse hair
- Brittle nails
- Dry skin
- Tooth decay
Calcium can help with:
- Prevent osteoporosis
- Prevent tooth cavities and tooth loss
- Improve athletic performance by preventing cramps and reducing fatigue
- Lower risk of bone fractures
Side effects and toxicity
Excessive intake of calcium may increase the risk of kidney stones and heart diseases. Symptoms of high calcium levels may include bloating, constipation, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, headache, dry mouth, increased thirst or urination, tiredness and confusion. High levels of calcium in our body can affect the absorption of iron, zinc and manganese in our body. If you have ever had kidney diseases, heart diseases, blood circulation issues, thyroid gland issues or cancer, it is recommended to speak to a health professional before taking calcium supplements.
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