Calcium is an extremely important mineral needed by the body. We are all aware that for healthy bones and teeth, we need calcium.
However, the beneficial role of calcium is not solely restricted to the formation of the bone cells.
Why we need calcium?
Besides preserving the bone density, calcium assists blood clotting. It helps in transmitting the nerve signals. For maintaining normal heartbeat, we need calcium. Deficiency of calcium causes muscle cramps. Calcium plays a role in lowering the cholesterol level in the blood stream. For healthy skin and for muscle growth, we need calcium. This mineral is even needed for fat metabolism. Calcium deficiency is often associated with eczema, nervousness, depression, arthritis, hypertension and insomnia.
Adult men and women need about 1000 mg of calcium per day. Older adults need at least 1200mg of calcium daily after 51. While calcium deficiency is bad for health, excess calcium can cause several health disorders such as kidney stones. Your maximum intake of calcium should not be more than 2.5 grams a day. To prevent excessive loss of calcium from the body, you should limit intake of caffeine, refined flour, alcohol, sodium and phosphorous. Absorption of calcium may be impaired by excess consumption of protein, sugar and fats.
Importance of calcium rich foods
It is estimated that about one third of the calcium consumed through foods are eliminated from the body everyday. To preserve the calcium deposit in the body, you should consume calcium rich foods regularly. Milk and dairy products are the richest sources of calcium. Calcium is found abundantly in seafood and fish. Vegans could obtain their calcium supply from calcium rich vegetables and fruits. Leafy green vegetables are rich in calcium. Calcium is also found in large quantities in cruciferous vegetables such as cabbage, broccoli and Brussels sprouts. You can find calcium in almonds, bananas, beans, peas, okra and sesame seeds.
Calcium carbonate and calcium citrate are popular calcium supplements. Our body could easily absorb these two calcium supplements. However, calcium citrate is more suitable for people with less stomach acid. Calcium supplements, though beneficial for the health, should not replace calcium rich foods.