Calcium is one of the most important minerals in the human body and is a main component of bones and teeth. It is a mineral found in many foods and getting enough of this nutrient is vitally important because the human body cannot make it. Even a fully grown adult will still require an adequate calcium intake because the body loses calcium every day through the skin, nails, hair, and sweat, as well as through urine and faeces.
If we do not take enough calcium into our diet the body will take calcium from the bones to perform other functions, which makes the bones weaker and more likely to break over time.
Why is it Important?
Calcium is essential in the body for the following functions:
- Normal growth in children
- Blood Clotting
- Energy metabolism
- Immune Function
- Muscle Contraction
- Normal Heart Beat
Our bodies cannot make calcium so we have to get it from the food that we eat or drink or from adding supplements to our diet.
After water, calcium is the next greatest substance in our body. It is vital for the growth and strengthening of our bones and teeth.
When a baby is born its bones are soft and pliable, along with other minerals calcium is essential to convert this cartilage into solid bone.
Our bones continue to grow and strengthen from infancy through to early adulthood before starting to decline with the ageing process. As early as their mid thirties, both men and women will gradually lose strength in their bone and suffer bone loss. It is essential therefore, that strong bones are built in early life to prevent poor bone health. Bone loss accelerates rapidly during the menopause putting women at risk of osteoporosis.
Are you Calcium Deficient?
The following categories also may choose to take extra calcium due to the demands on its supplies within the body:
- Childhood, particularly during growth spurt
- Post menopausal women, who are particularly at risk of osteoporosis.
- Consumers of high phosphate drinks, e.g. soft drinks
- Long term digestive upsets
- Menopause and post menopause
It may also be necessary to look at other essential nutrients as Vitamin D plays a crucial role in bone metabolism and calcium absorption.
Most of our vitamin D is obtained from normal exposure to sunlight; dietary sources include oily fish, eggs and foods that have had it added including margarine and spreads.