Properties and Benefits of Calcium: As a mineral of dietary importance, calcium is essential for good health. The average person has about 2-3 kilograms of calcium in their body, 99% of which is stored in our bones and teeth. The remaining 1% is found in our blood and cells where it supports numerous life-sustaining metabolic processes. If calcium blood reserves are insufficient, then our body will draw on calcium reserves from the bones in order to maintain essential levels in the blood.
This process causes fragile teeth, brittle bones and even osteoporosis. Moreover, the excessive consumption of coffee or sodas may also reduce the body’s calcium intake. What is interesting is that we don’t just absorb the calcium we need just because we eat it or take it from dietary supplements. We actually need other nutrients such as magnesium to be able to draw in calcium in our bones and several others to be able to keep it there.
Several vitamin and mineral deficiencies can cause us to lose calcium from our bones and teeth indirectly. Another important aspect to keep in mind is that absorbing the mineral and keeping it where we need it in the body is greatly influenced by hormonal processes.
Why is calcium so important for good health? As it is mentioned above, 99% of the calcium in our body is deposited in our bones, where it plays both a structural and a physiological role. As far as structure is concerned, its function is somewhat obvious: it helps build and maintain strong bones.
But calcium boasts other surprising health benefits:
1) Supports hemostasis (the blood clotting process);
2) Regulates the activity of the nervous by ensuring accurate muscle contractions (prevents eye twitching, muscle spasms, tingling or numbness in both the upper and lower limbs);
3) Helps maintain normal blood pressure.
Calcium is a mineral of great importance for both children and adults. I would like to underline this idea because adults tends to underestimate their body’s calcium needs. Indeed, children need calcium so their bones develop beautifully and stay strong. But why do adults need just as much calcium? Bones undergo a continuous process of renewal and calcium, like all other nutrients, circulates through the body, is used and gotten rid of.
A constant supply of all minerals and vitamins is necessary in order to provide the body with resources to continue the life-process and preserve a healthy body. A poor diet and bad lifestyle habits will deplete it of all its resources and it will malfunction. Calcium deficiency, for instance, can lead to fragile teeth, brittle bones or even full-on osteoporosis, all thanks to a low bone mineral density as a result of nutrient deficiencies.
While children need calcium for the development of a strong, healthy bone frame, adults and older people need it to maintain it. But for this, a smart diet and good lifestyle habits are imperative. It is important that calcium-rich foods be present in your daily diet. However, it is just as important to exclude some drinks.
Research suggest that drinking cola-based sodas and coffee on a daily basis, even multiple times a day, can rapidly deplete our body if essential calcium deposits. How is this possible? Apparently, cola drinks contain phosphoric acid which, if consumed in higher proportion than calcium, may lead to bone loss and calcium deficiency. And since cola may replace even your breakfast milk or orange juice, then you are definitely in for a deficiency.
Also, caffeine is believed to prevent calcium absorption, thus leading to an insufficient intake and possible future deficiencies. Another problem would be the fact that drinking a lot of sodas reduces the intake of other healthier drinks such as water, milk, orange, carrot or beet juice which would supply our body with extra quantities of vitamins and minerals. Milk, for instance, offers a great start in the morning and provides excellent amounts of calcium.
However, if your diet isn’t enough to cover your daily needs, you can always consider calcium supplements. Of course, it is best to talk to your doctor and get personalized advice. Our calcium needs may differ considerably according to gender, weight, age or medical history. For those of you who are new at this, remember it is good to take calcium supplements along with vitamin D (to increase absorption) and magnesium (to ensure it goes in the bones, rather than joints, heart valves or artery walls).
Also, here is an interesting fact about calcium supplements: the best forms of calcium are calcium citrate and calcium citrate malate. Calcium carbonate, readily available in most supplement formulas, has a low bioavailability. This means that is does not dissolve properly in the digestive tract and is thus poorly absorbed by the body, particularly in people with a long history of digestive problems.
Now that you know which calcium forms are absorbed better and how you can increase this absorption, you should know why it is never good to exceed 1,500 mg per day. Although vital for good health, an excess of calcium can, in time, lead to blocked arteries, kidney stones or stiff, painful joints as a result of abnormal calcium deposits.