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Calcium - Benefits, Deficiency Symptoms And Food Sources

Calcium is the most abundant mineral in the human body, and a very important mineral for the maintenance of neuromuscular function. It constitutes 2% of the total body weight and 26% of the dry weight of bones and teeth, as phosphates and carbonates. About 0.5 g serum calcium is exchanged with bone calcium every day.

Most of the calcium in our bodies - 99 percent of it - is found in our bones and teeth and remaining 1 percent is found throughout the body in blood, muscle, and the fluid between cells. New research indicates that calcium may also be an effective weapon against high blood pressure, heart attack, PMS (premenstrual syndrome), and colon cancer.

Benefits and functions of Calcium

  • Calcium in the bloodstream plays an important role in blood clotting, transmission of nerve impulses, muscle contraction, and other metabolic activities. In the bloodstream, calcium maintains a constant balance with phosphate.
  • Calcium and phosphorus are necessary for bone formation.
  • Bones consist of a protein matrix (framework) in which calcium phosphate is deposited. Proteins, vitamins A and C, and sex hormones are necessary for the formation of the matrix. The calcium in the bones is always being turned over with calcium in the blood and other tissues, at a rate of 0.5 g (12.5 mmol) per day.
  • Ionic calcium affects neuromuscular excitability of both the voluntary and involuntary muscles. When the ionic serum calcium concentration. is diminished, neuromuscular excitability is considerably increased, as in tetany.

Recommended dosage of Calcium

The minimum Recommended Dosage Allowance of Calcium are :-

  • Adults - 800 mg.
  • Children - 600 mg.
  • Pregnant Women - 1200 mg.

Deficiency symptoms of Calcium

Calcium deficiency can cause thinning of the bones, which can result in osteoporosis or other bone problems. Insufficient amounts of calcium in the blood can provoke muscle spasms. Deficiencies of calcium are also associated with cognitive impairment, convulsions, depression, delusions, and hyperactivity.

Food sources of Calcium

Dairy products are the major source of calcium. Eggs, green leafy vegetables, broccoli, legumes, nuts, and whole grains provide calcium but in smaller amounts than dairy products.

Symptoms of high intake

Clinical symptoms of hypercalcemia are constipation, lethargy, lassitude, rapid onset of fatigue, and sometimes excessive urine.

Hypercalcemia crisis produces nausea, vomiting (with subsequent dehydration), loss of appetite, constipation, and severe abdominal pain frequently associated with peptic ulcer or pancreatitis.

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