Calcium is a mineral that is found plentiful in the human body. It makes up about one to two percent of an adult human being's body weight. It assists in the formation and maintenance of healthy bones and teeth. The bones and teeth contain most of the calcium. Body tissues, blood, nerve cells, and other body fluids contain the rest of it.
Benefits of calcium
Calcium is known for its role in the bone structure. It helps to control nerve and muscle function. Calcium also helps to manage the acid-base balance in your blood stream.
• Bone health – Bone is a very metabolically active tissue. It is being broken down and built constantly. About ninety-nine percent of total body calcium stores are found in bones and teeth. This calcium is critical in maintaining the structural integrity of your skeleton. Calcium is the most important and critical nutrient for skeletal health.
• Acid-base balance – Calcium is absolutely critical in regulating the acid-base balance (pH) in the blood. Calcium is released from the bones when the pH level starts getting low to balance the acid-base balance. The pH level is critical to the sustenance of life.
• Nerve and muscle function – A balanced regulation of calcium, inside and outside of nerve cells, is required to control the flow of sodium in and out. The nerves conduct signals to and from the brain by means of this flow of sodium. Any abnormality in the calcium concentration will affect the transmission of signals. Same is the case with the muscle function also. If calcium levels are abnormal, it can lead to muscle spasm.
In essence, calcium helps your body with developing and building strong teeth and bones, clotting blood, squeezing and relaxing muscles, sending and receiving nerve signals, releasing hormones and other chemicals, and maintaining a normal heartbeat.
Food sources rich in calcium
Dairy products are the ideal source for calcium. Whole milk, skim milk, cheese, yoghurt, and buttermilk are rich in calcium. Green leafy vegetables like broccoli, kale, collards, turnip greens, mustard greens, and Chinese cabbage or bok choy are all good sources of calcium as well. Sardines and salmon with their soft bones, blackstrap molasses, almonds, sunflower seeds, Brazil nuts, dried beans, and tahini can also be taken for calcium needs. Soy milk, orange juice, tofu, bread, and ready-to-eat cereals also have added calcium in them. Many multivitamin-mineral supplements contain calcium as well.
The requirement of calcium is basically dependent on your gender and age. A few other factors, like illnesses and pregnancy, also comes into play when deciding the required calcium intake. Calcium-rich foods are the preferred source of calcium. However, you can take calcium supplements also as per your situation or need.