|Calcium - Bone Builder!|
Calcium is a naturally occurring mineral that is needed by the body to build and maintain strong bones and teeth. Because calcium is not made in the body, it must be absorbed from a person's dietary intake. Calcium is shed from the body in skin, nails, hair, sweat, urine, and feces. Vitamin D is needed to absorb calcium. When a person does not get enough calcium through their diet, the body must break down bone to obtain the mineral.
Calcium also plays a role in cell biology. Calcium can bind to a wide range of proteins altering their biological activity. This is important in nerve impulse transmission and muscle contraction. Calcium is also needed for blood clotting, activating clotting factors. A low level of calcium in the blood and tissues can cause hypocalcaemia. This involves sensations of tingling and numbness and muscle twitches. In severe cases muscle spasms may occur. This is called tetany.
Osteoporosis can be due to calcium deficiency. This involves loss of calcium from the bones and reduced bone density. This causes bones to be brittle and liable to fracture. Bone loss occurs with age in all individuals. This usually occurs after 35-40 years and involves the shrinking of the skeleton. Bone loss is greatest in women following the menopause.
Calcium is present in a wide range of foods. Dairy products, leafy green vegetables, nuts and seeds (almonds, brazil, sesame seeds), tofu, and dried fruit are all good sources of calcium. Most flour is fortified with calcium carbonate so cereals can also be a good source. Hard water may also provide calcium. Meat is a very poor source of calcium.
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