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Why the body needs calcium?

Calcium is the most abundant mineral in the body. More than 98% of human skeleton consist of calcium. Calcium plays an important role in bone and teeth health. It also affects your muscles, hormones, nerve function, and ability to form blood clots.

The recommended daily intake of calcium is 1,000 to 1,300 milligrams per day for people ages 9 and up. In case of pregnant women, the calcium intake needs to be increased from 800mg a day to 1100mg a day. That’s an extra 300mg calcium a day (equivalent to 1 serve of a calcium-rich food). Pregnant women need to eat around 4 serves of calcium-rich foods every day to meet their needs.

Functions of Calcium

  • The human body uses 99 percent of its calcium to keep your bones and teeth strong.
  • Calcium also helps in cell signaling, blood clotting, muscle contraction and nerve function.
  • Cells use calcium to activate certain enzymes, transport ions across the cellular membrane, and send and receive neurotransmitters during communication with other cells.
  • Calcium helps in maintaining a regular heartbeat.
  • Calcium helps in regulating blood pressure.
  • Adequate intake of calcium over time seemed to reduce PMS symptoms, including anxiety, irritability, depression, headaches, and cramps.
  • Calcium helps in losing weight.
  • Calcium may decrease the risk for colorectal cancer.
  • Calcium decreases the risk for osteoporosis.
  • Without vitamin D, your body cannot absorb calcium.

Caution

Consuming too much calcium, especially in the form of calcium supplements, can lead to constipation and kidney stones. Caffeine, alcohol and excess sodium can all decrease calcium absorption and/or increase calcium excretion from your body.

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Calcium Intake

Daily Calcium Requirement by the body

Calcium deficiency

Deficiency of calcium can increase the risk of developing diseases like osteoporosis, osteopenia, and calcium deficiency disease (hypocalcemia). The hormone disorder hyperparathyroidism may also cause calcium deficiency disease. Some of the causes for calcium deficiency include low levels of vitamin D, which makes it harder to absorb calcium, too much potassium which can burn up calcium and medications, such as those for thyroid replacement.

Calcium deficiencies can affect all parts of the body, resulting in weak nails, slower hair growth, and fragile, thin skin. Some of the symptoms of calcium deficiency disease include:

  • confusion or memory loss
  • muscle spasms
  • numbness and tingling in the hands, feet, and face
  • depression
  • hallucinations
  • muscle cramps
  • weak and brittle nails
  • easy fracturing of the bones

Food items rich in calcium

Dairy Products

Calcium content in dairy products

Dairy products are an excellent source of calcium.

Dairy Products are an excellent source of calcium.

Broccoli

Two cups of broccoli contains around 86 milligrams of calcium.

Two cups of broccoli contains 86 milligrams of calcium

Collard greens

1 cup cooked collard greens contains around 270 milligrams  of calcium.

1 cup cooked collard greens contains around 270 milligrams  of calcium.

Kale

One cup of raw kale contains around 100 milligrams of calcium.

One cup of raw kale contains around 100 milligrams of calcium

Figs

Half a cup of figs contain 120 milligrams of calcium.

Half a cup of figs contain 120 milligrams of calcium.

Sardines

100 grams of canned sardine can contains 382 mg of calcium.

100 grams of canned sardine can contains 382 mg of calcium.

Oranges

100 grams of oranges contain 40 mg of calcium.

100 grams of oranges contain 40 mg of calcium.

Read more about the health benefits of oranges.

Almonds

1 cup of almonds contains 243 mg of calcium.

1 cup of almonds contains 243 mg of calcium

Eggs

One large boiled egg contains 25 mg of calcium.

One large boiled egg contains 25 mg of calcium.

Read more about the other benefits of eggs.

Tofu

100 grams of tofu contains 350 mg of calcium.

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100 grams of tofu contains 350 mg of calcium

Canned Salmon

Half can of salmon contains 240 mg of calcium.

Half can of salmon contains 240 mg of calcium.

Okra

100 grams of okra contains 82 mg of calcium.

100 grams of okra contains 82 mg of calcium.

Sesame seeds

One tablespoon (9 grams) of sesame seeds contain 88 mg of calcium.

One tablespoon (9 grams) of sesame seeds contain 88 mg of calcium.

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