Calcium is the most abundant mineral in the body. It receives much emphasis because an adequate intake helps grow a healthy skeleton in early life And helps minimize bone loss in later life.
Ninety percent of the body's calcium is in the bones (and teeth), where it plays two roles. First, it is an integral part of bone structure, providing a rigid frame that holds the body upright and serves as attachment points for muscles, making motion possible. Second, it serves as a calcium bank, offering a readily available source of the mineral to the body fluids when a drop in blood levels of calcium occurs.
Many people have the idea that once a bone is built, it is inert like a rock. Actually, the bones are gaining and losing minerals continuously in an ongoing process of remodeling. Growing children gain more bone than they lose, and healthy adults maintain a reasonable balance. When withdrawals substantially exceed deposits, problems such as osteoporosis develop.
The formation of teeth follows a pattern similar to that of bones. The turnover of minerals in teeth is not as rapid as in bone; however, fluoride hardens and stabilizes the crystals of teeth, opposing the withdrawals of minerals from them.
Calcium also plays a critical rile in supporting the body's vital functions; such as controlling blood pressure and maintaining the heart beat also.
Not just Calcium, Vitamin D is also important
The body needs vitamin D to absorb calcium properly. The best source of vitamin D is sunlight. Vitamin D is also available in oily fish and eggs.
To promote strong bones throughout life, it is recommended that everyone, including pregnant or breastfeeding women, observes the following daily calcium intakes (to include dietary calcium plus any calcium supplement taken.)
Infants - 500 mg
Children - 400 mg
Adolescents - 600 mg
Adults - 500 mg
Pregnant women - 1000 mg
Lactating mothers - 1000 mg
There is a need to maintain 800 mg/day throughout. But for females 1 to 1.5 g a day will reduce the likelihood of osteoporosis.
A variety of factors contribute to healthy bones.
If we consume more calcium than recommends, there is no proof that it will benefit the bones. High calcium intakes on a regular basis may be harmful. The adverse effects of excessive calcium intake may include high blood calcium levels, kidney complications and kidneys stone formation.
When sufficient calcium is not supplied, pregnant women lose calcium from their body tissues to supply the needs of the fetus.
Similarly, nursing mothers need calcium and phosphorus for the formation of milk. In calcium deficiency bones of women get porous and either bend or break with the weight of the body. The teeth are also affected and the blood does not clot normally.
Calcium's most famous role in disease prevention is in building strong bones to protect against osteoporosis. As important as calcium may be to bone health, osteoporosis is not a calcium deficiency disease comparable to iron deficiency anemia. In iron deficiency anemia, high iron intakes reliably reverse the condition; in osteoporosis, however, high calcium intakes alone during adulthood may do little or nothing to reverse bone loss. An adequate calcium intake early in life helps most to grow a healthy skeleton that can defend itself against bone loss in later life.
Some habits in the teenage years can steal calcium from your bones or increase the need for it, weakening the bones for life.
Healthy eating is about learning which foods to eat to stay well. But it is also about integrating a balance and variety of different foods into an enjoyable daily routine!
|Dairy Products||Per 100g|
|Khoa (Cows' milk)||956|
|Dried Fruits and Nuts Agathi||1130|
Dr. S. Bhuvaneswari
Chief Dietitian, Apollo Hospitals, Chennai