The things those come to our mind first, thinking of calciumare bones, teeth and a glass of milk. Calcium is the chief component of our bones as well as of our teeth. Calcium along withphosphorus conjugates with protein to form bones and teeth. Our body doesn’t only consume calcium but excretes also. Calcium is lost through sweat, nails, urine, feces, skin and hair too. To replace this loss we need to consume calcium mainly through food and through calcium supplements if required.Different age group has different Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for calcium.
Newborns are born with a good store of calcium but after reaching one year till the end of the life recommended calcium allowance per day is as below:
Toddlers (1 to 3 yrs.) – 500m.g.
Children ( 4 to 8 yrs.) –800m.g.
Tweens to Teens (9 to 18 yrs) – 1300m.g.
Young adults (19 to 50 yrs) – 1000m.g.
Older adults ( 50 yrs. and above) – 1200m.g.
Deficiency of calcium causes“osteopenia” (i.e. pre stage of osteoporosis) and ultimately leads to “osteoporosis”. In this condition bones become fragile and brittle. While in another condition caused due to deficiency of calcium along with Vitamin D is “osteomalacia.” In this condition bones lose their required hardness and become soft. In both of these conditions it is necessary to take calcium supplements alongside with dietary calcium. Calcium deficiency not just causes bone deformities.Other than forming bones and teeth calcium has other very important functions as well. But are you really aware of the other important functions of calcium? Not really. So let us have a look upon the other functions of calcium.
- Nerve signal transmission: positively charged calcium ions are responsible for neurotransmission. These ions convey the information from various parts of body to the brain. Lack of calcium can affect this function. Hence may affect our memory.
- Hormone release: Calcium is also responsible for the release of the hormones. Calcium is one of the chief component of insulin hormone. We all know that insufficiency of insulin is cause of diabetes. And being an important component of insulin calcium insufficiency may also affect the quality of the hormone. Apart from this studies have shown that including sufficient amount of calcium in diet can lower the risk of hypo-parathyroidism, especially in women.
- Muscle contraction: calcium triggers muscular contraction. Calcium ions, in our muscles regulates the protein named troponin that is responsible for muscle contraction. Lack of calcium certainly affects the flexibility of our muscles and hence our physical activity. This way calcium is also important for our muscular function.
- Blood vessel function:According to a research conducted by University of CT shows that calcium has an important role to play in blood vessels also. As mentioned in a point before, calcium is responsible for muscle contraction, similarly calcium also has a great relation with contraction of blood vessels. Therefore calcium also affects blood pressure. In middle aged men, consumption of calcium from diet especially from dairy origin tend to lower blood pressure.
- Blood clotting: when we get injured, calcium plays very important role healing cuts and wounds. As wound comes in contact with open air, calcium, along with Vit. K activates a protein names fibrinogen. That forms a layer or clot on the wound and stops bleeding, hence prevents blood losses. While small injuries normal calcium levels suffice to form clot, greater injuries may require calcium supplements to heal the wounds.
In India, most of the people are calcium deficient. Especially ladies. Now we know that not just for bone health, but calcium is important for the overall well being. Hence inclusion of calcium rich food such as mik& milk products, ragi millet, lady’s finger, almonds, cashews, tofu, broccoli, green beans, sesame seeds etc. are must to include. And calcium supplements can also be taken to fill the nutritional gap, obviously with doctor’s advise.